Personal Reflections of a Conservative Who Wants To Be Liked

My wife and I were having volume problems with our laptop so we brought our computer into an electronics store to let the technicians have a look at it.  The way the computer people work at this establishment is they place your computer on a counter and work upon it right in front of you. I had already gone to the DVD section of the store, grabbed a few new DVDs for purchase, and joined my wife, as she was just stepping up for service, laptop in hand.

As the technician (an African American) was getting the computer ready for analysis, he noticed the DVDs I was holding, and we struck up an amicable conversation about our personal movie collections. Turning his attention to the computer, he plugged in the right plugs, opened the lid, pushed the power button on, and up pooped an array of desktop icons, one of which included the photo and name of Rush Limbaugh (I am a Rush 24/7 member).

The technician worked diligently on the computer problem for what seemed a lifetime while my wife and I stood just on the other side of the counter watching.  Because it was a volume problem he went into "iTunes" to test a couple of times, where, because I had previously downloaded one of Rush's radio shows, a picture of Mr. Limbaugh popped up each time. Still struggling with how to fix the computer, he called over a fellow technician, (name tag Mahmoud), and Mahmoud then proceeded to repeat every step, with another round of displayed Rush icons.

Politically speaking, I am a conservative whereas my wife is often on a different page.  When we got into the car, she more or less let me have it.  She told me how embarrassed she was that Rush Limbaugh's picture and name kept popping up on the screen and that our technicians probably thought we were some kind of racists.

Of course I was quick to dispel her fears with, "They probably didn't even notice," and, "Why would you think that?"  The problem was, although I did not fess up to it, I had shared some of the same uneasy feelings that she did.

This caused me to do much reflection and I believe I now understand my uneasiness and perhaps the root problem of the entire conservative movement: America's preoccupation with television and the human desire to be liked.

Let me explain. Conservatism is in trouble, not because liberalism is better for the nation, but because conservatism does not play well on the much watched television news, which is short on substance yet high on passive thinking imagery. Just as one picture is worth ten thousand words, a carefully narrated television image can be worth a million votes.

Just to give the mainstream media a pass for the moment, which is difficult to do, the news, understandably, has always been about life's victims. Who wants to read, or hear, or see about people who have nothing of interest happening to them?  Victim stories in America, as the conservative understands, are only about a fraction of society, yet a modern-day television image and liberal narration can move television viewers in the same way Bambi's mother's murder moved theatre audiences to tears over fifty years ago.

Liberalism works well with stories about people who fall through the cracks, making them appear larger than life.  The Democrats, and "moderate" Republicans, exploit the various victims of the news and are forever declaring emergency rescue plans.  This makes them appear compassionate. Conservatism, on the other hand, works well in the world of concepts and ideas.  The talking point merits of capitalism, laissez-faire, the constitution, and individual liberty, although far better for our nation as a whole than liberal socialism, appear as void of compassion arguments in the face of TV victim imagery.

The Democratic Party, with the aid of their bedfellows in media land, has unfairly convinced much of America into believing conservatives do not want safety nets for those who fall through the cracks.  This is not true.  The difference between liberals and conservatives is that conservatives understand safety nets should not be massive entitlement programs capable of bringing down the nation. 

Now back to my discomfort at the store.  Liberal television news has a propensity for displaying woeful news images, implying a dire need for immediate government rescue (i.e. the Democratic Party), and then contrasting these images with out of context conservative sound bites from the likes of Rush Limbaugh (and others).  This makes conservatism and their spokespeople appear to be uncaring, lacking compassion, and villain like.   In a world in which perception is so encompassing, is it any wonder I felt discomfort thinking about what the computer technicians might be thinking about me?  It is human nature to want to be liked and I did not want these two gentlemen to think, on any given day, I was capable of murdering Bambi's mother.

It would appear the combination of television imaging and liberal spin is almost too much to overcome for a national populace that is becoming more and more entrenched in what television does best: instill uncritical passive thinking. Obviously, an infinite amount of work needs to be done on behalf of the conservative movement if we are going to return to power one day soon.  If we are to succeed, we must become thicker skinned and take the battle away from the world of television images and liberal narration, into the world where we are strongest, what Rush would call, the Reagan world of conservative ideas. This is no small undertaking.

As for myself, I have decided to start my battle at the home front.  My wife deleted the Rush icon from the desktop the moment we returned from the electronics store, and I am going to put him back up.