When the Left Snatches our Kids
I am skeptical that our efforts as conservative parents to produce conservative offspring will materialize. Even with the best of intentions, the odds are not in our favor to successfully counter the Democrat-Media Complex, the educational system, and pop culture. That doesn’t mean there aren’t success stories (some in my own family), but I hear more about the failure and the disaffection it engenders in conservative families.
Conservative parents have learned the hard way that how your kids turn out depends on a host of factors that, at some point during the maturation process, are way beyond our control -- friends, personal experiences, a particular book or documentary, brain chemistry, friends, a teacher/professor/boss, personality, a romantic relationship, college activities, pop culture, hobbies, and…friends. Usually, it’s not one but an amalgamation of several factors and presto chango! The kid who was once the lone conservative arguing at the lunch table, now thinks David Hogg and AOC are bitchin’.
We see them everywhere -- the emaciated college-age vegans working at Starbucks, hysterical young girls pounding on Supreme Court doors, attractive anti-Semites leading the charge in Congress. I’m sure some of them had conservative upbringings -- you cannot assume they were all raised by liberals. Yet, in her reporting about out-of-control liberal college students some time ago, I heard Laura Ingraham link their behavior to their upbringing. Only a parent whose children hadn’t yet attended high school could make such an absurd connection. We can try but we cannot guarantee what our children will believe.
Once again, I find myself referencing Red Scare movies like Invasion of the Body Snatchers. It resonates. We have to be vigilant, stay informed, understand the arguments of the other side and how to combat them. If we don’t, eventually the pods take us over. I graduated high school a Reagan Republican whose political arguments were admittedly my Dad’s. When I arrived at a competitive college filled with smart, often private-school educated Merit scholars, I lost every political debate. I just didn’t have the breadth of information and understanding of history to counter their arguments. Thus, I graduated college…a Democrat. In time, I fell back on those critical thinking skills my parents instilled in me. A desire to understand more as I graduated from law school and entered the work force, led me to self-educate and, eventually, return to my conservative roots.
That was also in the ‘80s and early ‘90s when life was simpler and more balanced: when “gay marriage” was still an oxymoron; before triggers and safe spaces, the internet, social media, doom and gloom “climate change,” and legalized pot; before we had an alphabet of sexualities to choose from and the ability to change sexes; before blended families became the norm; before hatred became the quintessential reason for all of society’s ills.
Not all teachers and professors were proselytizing progressives, the media was less corrupt, and your politics were not a factor in getting or retaining a job. Because of the deep societal changes since then, not every Millennial or Gen Xer has the wherewithal, the background, or the backbone to recognize and then punch back against the forces of propaganda, fess up to and toil with their own ignorance, or simply engage in respectful debate with those who have another point of view -- no matter how steeped in conservatism their childhood.
I am not suggesting we stop lecturing our children about competing points of view, stop teaching them to be skeptical about what they learn in school or from their peers, or stop challenging the false orthodoxies they are barraged with on virtually every topic from sexuality to climate, energy to food, and national security to border security. We should continue to bang the drum. We must. And we must remain hopeful that someday those we lost will return to the conservative fold because they see the wisdom of conservative principles. But for all of you young parents out there who think you’ll do better than those before you, be prepared for disappointment.
The conservative path is littered with the bodies of well-intentioned parents who are devastated when their formerly straight kids come out of imaginary closets, transition to the opposite sex, or demand to be called “they”; when their Jewish Day School educated children announce their support for the BDS movement; when their evangelical children support blatant infanticide; when their happy, well-adjusted kids go off to college and return believing weed is innocuous, struggling with drug addiction, or suffering from mental illness.
These cultural maladies affect liberals and conservatives alike, but are unusually bitter pills for conservatives to swallow because they are packaged in a lifestyle and value system antithetical to everything we teach our children -- resilience, pride, integrity, honesty, open-mindedness, self-reliance, individuality, taking responsibility for our actions, doing right when we screw up, and teaching a man to fish. Liberals cast us as hypocrites whose principles clash with reality, but what they don’t understand is that we believe in taking responsibility for and learning from our missteps so we constantly evolve into better beings (and don’t get mired in unbridled, misplaced hatred and lifelong victimhood).
Secondly, conservative parents are treated by their children with a level of hostility that doesn’t seem to afflict liberal parents with conservative children. Loving, nurturing conservative parents find themselves catapulted to Holocaust-denier status and demoted to homophobic, intolerant, racist, privileged, religious zealots. Relics of an oppressive past. It is painful when your kids reject everything you raised them to value. Despise you. Scoff at you. Turn against you. Align with your political foes. Resent you for brainwashing them with your hateful, 1950‘s agenda.
Now, some of that is typical teenage/young adult angst and rebellion. When frontal lobes are soothed by the right combination of hormones and our insecure little monsters segue into more confident adults, those nasty side effects often dissipate. But much of the antipathy they are exposed to is encouraged by “the man” in the liberal camp -- we’ll call him “the burning man.” He instructs us to hate authority, hate anything established, hate tradition, hate the moral code you grew up with, hate anyone who is white or successful, and hate those who embrace any of this. Hence, hate your parents. Hate your old neighborhood. They are the problem. And while today all you have to do is oppose them, someday you might have to actively go against them, even “turn them in.” The burning man says this is okay because you are right and the end justifies the means. I’m not being paranoid. Our entire educational system is based on appropriating the minds of our children and undoing all they have learned at home, turning them into weapons of mass societal destruction in the burning man’s toolbox.
We have all participated in holiday dinners and family vacations ruined by dissension and door-slamming. Family harmony devolves into family discord, function into dysfunction, and closeness morphs into estrangement. Parents are instructed to just shut up already! Politics and religion are off the table. Dinner conversations revolve around silly cat videos and trivial drivel. Soon there is little left to discuss. After all, everything is political now -- from your sneakers to your bus commute during Pride Month.
Once upon a time, we could fall back on cultural interests like music, movies, theater, travel, and sports to avoid potentially explosive conversations at family gatherings about politics and religion. Now, virtue signaling is so ubiquitous that everything seems to fall into the Realm of the verboten. It becomes more and more difficult to find common ground. Constructive input I like your haircut and simple questions Did you decide on a major? What are you doing for break? How do you like your job? are potential triggers. Family get togethers are so contentious there is an increasing tendency to minimize interactions. Even life’s big “hatching, matching, and dispatching” events are often fraught with tension -- relatives who couldn’t be seated together because of some family squabble are now separated because one has a worldview the other finds detestable.
Some parents give in. They don’t want politics or values to stand in the way of their relationships with their kids, so they re-visit their Weltanschauung. Constant pressure from your 20-year-old bubelah goes a long way towards re-educating Mom and Dad. Senator Rob Portman was against gay marriage until his son came out and then… he evolved. I’d rather fight than switch is a paean to another time.
This is nothing new. Many parents drank the Kool-Aid and became part of the 60s counterculture their children brought home. Ironically, many of their hippie children became yuppies and did the unthinkable -- morphed into their conservative parents. Hmm. I suppose we can be clear-eyed about the transformative societal and political forces pulling our children away from conservatism, at the same time we cling to the hope that our liberal progeny will switch and fight for conservative principles and maybe even cling to their bibles and the Constitution, too.