Thursday, November 06, 2008

What Are Right-Wingers Made Of?

Sugar and spice and everything nice? Well, I haven't exactly found that to be true. Let's just say that some are much spicier than others! Certainly though some are very decent people, and as interested as I am in getting to the bottom of this country's policy challenges. I've mentioned recently my "travels" at Rightwingsparkle, a conservative blog run by a self-described "theocon", a middle-aged wife and mother of five near Houston, Texas. First, a little background about how I arrived there. I wandered over there at the same time I started this blog, at a time in early 2005 when Republicans in general and much more alarming to me, religious conservatives specifically, were suddenly flexing their political muscle. The rest of us hadn't quite gotten "good and tired" enough to do something about it, namely vote against it. Certainly they seemed to think they knew how we should all conduct our lives, so I decided to try and understand them better. Little did I know that the seeds of their decline had already been sown, with the Schiavo case happening at that time, to be followed by more unpopular over-reaching. Disasters, scandals, and more policy blunders led to the 2006 election, effectively ending Bush's political clout. Then Barack Obama was elected President of the United States two days ago.

In a way I'm kind of glad that I didn't know that it would all unravel so quickly when I started blogging in 2005, because if I had, I wouldn't have been so concerned, wouldn't have felt compelled to make my voice heard through blogging, and wouldn't have reached out to communicate and debate with conservatives. I'm better off for having had the experience, and I will continue to do so in a more limited capacity. I am however quite disappointed at some aspects of my experience there, especially during the last couple months. I learned that there are some people in the world that are so ruled by politics that they literally cannot look past it to see a fellow human being. There are actually commenters there that refused to even associate with me outside of that blog when politely offered. There were others that cursed at me, called me part of the "culture of death", and all kinds of other bizarre and creative names, along with unfounded character attacks on my personality and lifestyle just because I disagreed with them politically. The venom itself never bothered me, and I did my best to never sink to their level, but I must admit that the very fact that this sort of behavior is acceptable to so many people that are supposed to have excellent morals made my jaw drop at times. I find it truly sad that so many of these people exist.

In short, I went there for respectful debate, and there has been not much of that for some time now. They are upset about what has happened, and I'm just another target at this point. Even the hostess used to be more positive from time to time, even uplifting every now and then. I still very much respect her as a person, but more and more her posts seem to be about tearing someone else down, and the outrage is very palpable. Even on the night of the historic election, she put up a post calling for "resistance" to a man that has not yet even taken office, with a picture equating him with a mindless machine from the Terminator movies. I truly hope politics is not unwittingly turning her into that same machine, because she is really not that person. Post-election she seems to have softened a bit, and is posting about right to life issues and religion. No matter how careful I am to be respectful though, abortion debates on that site just get uglier and uglier, so I won't say a lot on the subject. I am not afraid of going toe to toe with people on this issue, and I have numerous times in the past, but I no longer feel the need to subject myself to the anger and outrage. I can take it, but it just isn't worth it to me any more.

So, I will be pulling back a great deal from her site, at least for now, and maybe for longer. I have many, many interests outside of politics, and now that the election is over, it's time I turned my attention to them. I will check in and say hello every now and then I'm sure, but it is unlikely that I will ever participate there to that level again. Perhaps I will stop into Mark Goluskin's "Right View from the Left Coast" from time to time once political season comes back around. He's a theocon too, and his blog is less traveled, but he seems to be interested in discussing the whole range of issues that face us in a more analytical way, and that's important to me. Meanwhile, I'll continue blogging and I'll be mixing a lot of my other interests into my blog as this historic election fades into, well... history.


Anonymous said...

As always, Erik. Congratulations on your high road approach. I can't blame you for losing the stomach to return to that group of narrow minded people. That Kathleen has returned to her crusade for right ot lifers is acceptable to me. There is nothing that can be said to her, If you are in opposition to her views you are part of the Culture of Death and as easily dismissed by her as a bad nightmare the morning after.Her clones and cronies are so eaten up with themselves, convinced theDemcrats stole the election, trying to cast the net of fear by dire warnings of taxation to death and blood letting in the streets. I prefer to the attitudes and reactions in Florida where , at my sister's house we had "We Are the Champions" playing a top volume, drinking toasts of my homemade ice wine and dancing in the front yard and street when Obama was declared and for hours afterward.

I wish you well in future endeavors, Erik. Thank You.
Gary Rodgers.(no longer anonymous)

nicnerd said...

Wow, Erik I am your friend in RL, but I cannot believe you posted this. This level of insolence is disturbing from you.

Do not mistake, I disagree with RWS an awful lot, but I don't think I would be this nasty to anyone.

I do not intend to offend you, but if I were her I would be insulted. Like her views, or hate them, you did come to her turf. Effectively, a guest in her home.

Your own commenters mock me, but I do not think that I would post diatribe about them on my blog. Sheesh, some pissing is best left in your head.

It is your prerogative, but it certainly makes my opinion of you go down.

Righty64 said...

Thank you for the plug! One of the reasons that I enjoy blogging is finding some one that is a good representative on the "other side". As I have noted, I come from a family of Democrats (insert disbelief here!) and it is kind of like Sparkle the other way! I wanted to win the election, but look, I feel that now conservatives/Republicans need to look to the future. And, I meant it about President-elect Obama. And relating the story about being at the event where the overwhelming majority of people were black made me think about the election a little more from their point of view. Do not get me wrong, I will be on the president-elect's heels-on January 21! But, we all can relax a little. BTW, when we get the shirt thing figured out, let me know. I won't go back on my word!

Erik Grow said...

Nicnerd, two other people read my post and didn't see it as "insolent". Why do you??? Like I told you before, you have not read the last couple months of posts over there. It has been crazier than you EVER saw it before. Some of the comments would make even your skin crawl, I guarantee it!

Yes, I am a guest in her home, but she allows dissent and I am there to dissent and debate. Your position seems to be that I shouldn't be going to her site to dissent at all. How is that being nasty, either that or what I said in this post? I am saying how I feel, and she says how she feels. I don't hate her, I'm just not happy with the direction she took her blog recently. What was the thing I said about her that you think is out of bounds? I want to understand this.

Erik Grow said...

Hehheh, thank you Gary Rodgers and Mark Goluskin! I appreciate it. I need to think of all of the new topics I can post about now!

nicnerd said...

I am not saying that you should not go there, but that you should expect to reap what you sow. You know the score when you walk into the door, so try not to act shocked. Like me when I go into a local bar in DC wearing my Cowboys gera, I know I am going to get some serious flak for it. Some of it will be good natured ribbing, but a lot of is will be crass and nasty.

My point is that you knew what you were getting into, so stop acting shocked. People are people, and not all people possess civility. Look at your blog. Almost everyone here are decent people and disagree, but are not crude about it. Other people here, well some people never learned to play nice in another playground's sandbox.

Erik Grow said...

Well, I was under the impression that she welcomed dissent. Maybe that was the wrong assumption on my part. Anyway, I edited it some. I can "take it", but it's just not worth it to me any more.

tully said...

I agree with you Erik. If there is one thing I learned is that unless people want their minds to be changed or want to understand where you are coming from…they merely just want to lock horns when you don’t agree with them. Tell you how their way is the righteous way and how dumb/blind/etc. you are for feeling differently.

This is a battle we cannot win! We thought Bush stole the election in 2000 and 2004…they think we stole this one (even though the Electoral College was 2 to 1). Each side will always think they are right.

What I think happens most of the time is that we stumble onto these sites because we want to know what we are up against, to understand where they are coming from (still assuming that even though we disagree that logic will still prevail) and then when we read some of the insane things the WingNuts are posting (like Obama’s hankering for baby flesh) it outrages us and makes us feel compelled to respond. This is where the nightmare starts and it ends with no one feeling satisfied because we all have failed to agree to disagree, and in many fundamentalist conservatives, their emotions get so intense that they act in ways that contradict that which they preach. They are human, but they need not get preachy about “what would Jesus do” when they clearly aren’t doing what Jesus would do!

I’m 100% with you Erik…I’ve argued with the WingNuts one time too many and just don’t have the energy, patience, or stomach for it anymore. I concede that they are entitled to their opinion but I am done subjecting myself to it because there are more important things in life than getting into pissing matches with people who don’t know me, who I don’t know, who have nothing invested in the relationship, and who get downright nasty just because I see the world differently. It’s a lose/lose venture and life is simply too short. ;)

tully said...

BTW, here is a pretty cool post that was sent to me yesterday:

Anonymous said...

nicnerd...'guest inher home, that site the other 'guests' have some damned bad table manners and are always more than willing to flush you down the toilet because thats where they believe you belong. That the host is so willing to allow it speaks reams, but that she would elbow her way to the head of the line so often shows being a guest to her hostess role is very onesided. GR

Rightwingsnarkle said...

I've been watching your recent gradual awakening with great interest, and will even take some small amount of credit for it.

It's time for you to read Altemeyer.

Download the pdf or buy the book from

Sparkie's a classic rightwing authoritarian follower. As you'll see, it's a mindset that doesn't start or stop at what you call 'politics.'

It's a philosophy of life, a way of trying to make sense of the world.

It's not healthy, positive, mature, or productive. But it's most definitely a way. It is perhaps the easiest way, because it doesn't require thought or effort.

Well done, young grasshopper. Now is the time to keep moving forward.

Erik Grow said...

Wow, I just read the first chapter. Really quite fascinating! I scored a 24 on the test. I even went back to see if maybe I was being unrealistic, but I saw very little way to even punch me up to 30, much less to the average.

Hey Nicnerd, you should take that test! It's pretty fascinating!!! Go to that link and hit the first pdf. You don't have to read the whole thing. You can just take the test, but it's all interesting.

Rightwingsnarkle said...

I scored a 24 on the test.

That's not a surprise. Based on what I've read of your stuff, including many comments at Sparkie's, you seem to be a very open and accomodating, quite willing to give someone else the benefit of the doubt, consider their opinions, reconsider your own, etc.

All of these attributes are directly opposit those of wingnuts. They're closed-minded, unwilling to consider other peoples' views, not at all willing to reconsider their own, etc.

Altemeyer's been doing some very important work for over twenty years. He's a serious scholar and researcher. Give him your full attention.

Two Dogs said...

I was wondering what was going on over here at The Culture of Death, so I decided to pop in.

I just need to drop one small tidbit of advice to you, you might want to rethink calling a woman, "middle-aged." Just saying.

And if you want to see the basic premise of your post in glaring clarity, just check out the handle of the guy right above my comment.

Erik, I laughed at this, "at least for now, and maybe for longer."


Anyhoo, quit being such a sissy. Bark may be the next president, it looks like a possibility, unless the Supremes steal this one, too.

Tully said...

Two made me laugh...thank you for that! ;)

-Tom said...

they're incurable. What really SHOULD piss them off, but apparently doesn't, is that the REAL right-wingers (people who don't want to be taxed or idealists in the 'non-intervention' form of economics) are completely brainwashing the religious right. Generally speaking, the people who are running the GOP have little interest in religion beyond their constituency. They realize that they need the RRight's votes to have a chance. The party is split and I think the economists are tired of being lumped in with what they rightly consider to be lunatics. They wonder why the party is falling apart? Look no further than the last GOP meeting. Newt Gingrich and Sarah Palin on stage at the same time. Does anyone REALLY think these two have ANYTHING in common? I hope they stay in the forefront -- I want to see that party implode under the weight of its own pretentious idealism. Wake up religious conservatives -- you're being used.