Lately I've been doing a rather stupid thing, which is to read Ann Coulter's most recent minum opus, How To Talk To a Liberal (If You Really Must), a collection of her columns spanning roughly the past five years. In doing so, it's become apparent to me -- though not for the first time -- that conservatives are very, very angry people.
No less than halfway through the introduction, Coulter states that "torturing the guy you know for a fact is withholding information actually works quite well" (a statement based, no doubt, on her years of extensive experience in criminal and prisoner interrogations). She devotes an entire column to asserting that the real women of American are nothing like those seen on Sex and the City -- that they are not interested in pursuing sex, refrain from using bawdy language to describe sex, and that any man not in a monogomous marriage is gay. "Do you actually know any girls," she writes, "who actually talk about sex using the d-word and c-word to describe body parts? No, you don't."
Actually, Ann, almost every woman I've hung out with/dated/slept with does this, but then, I hang out with/date/sleep with fetish models, actresses, artists, and go-go dancers, so my information may be skewed. No more skewed, though, than supposing that all women in Atlanta are "sweet Southern belles who don't think about sex in coarse euphamisms for body parts". ("Chicks With D****", Jan 2000)
She spends another entire chapter praising the Confederate Army as noble, gallant men and viciously mocking anyone who opposes the resurrection of the Confederate flag. ("The Battle Flag", undated)
Turn on the radio and listen to the rabid sputterings of commentator Michael Savage, to whom virtually everything is a mesh of Jewish conspiracy and liberal ideals (which he describes as a "mental disorder"), and delights in deriding any naysaying callers as "pigs", "rats", "pieces of garbage", and "sodomites".
Sean Hannity, another vocal mouthpiece of the far right, specializes in winning arguments by badgering his opponents to death with unrelated questions, or by simply hanging up on them and making snide remarks about them for the next thirty seconds.
Rush Limbaugh's favorite tactic is to argue against recordings of Democrats, usually ending his diatribes with vocalizations of disgust and demands for his producer to turn the damn thing off, ranting about how he can't bear to listen to this anymore.
Yes, it's obvious that the conservatives are angry about something. One could say that they're angry about what they can't have; they see the liberal, artsy types dancing, having sex, drinking, creating, singing, accepting others' sexuality, race, and religions, and it pisses them off. After all, they're not getting any younger or more attractive, and they tend to abhor sensual pleasure in favor of maintaining the 1940s pure-as-snow image and being bored out of their skulls in front of pictures of Jesus on Sunday morning, at the same time those of us without sticks up our asses are enjoying the post-bedlam bravado of another wild Saturday night.
But I think they're angry for an entirely different reason: abject fear. By the very definition of the word, conservatives seek to conserve, but what they want to conserve is merely the status quo.
And the fact that they're losing is terrifying them.
Generation X, the digerati, the up-and-coming leaders of tomorrow, are crushing conservatism beneath stiletto bootheels, and as the traditionally conservative Baby Boomer set fades into irrelevency, these Fox-News-watching, Nascar-racing, bible-thumping lovers of Establishment are beginning to realize just how little they matter.
The musical Rent, a tribute to bohemian lifestyle and a blast against materialist concerns, is heralded by the twentysomething crowd as a defining event of their generation. It's also one of the longest-running plays on Broadway, and its soundtrack the best-selling in thirty years -- which means the people are speaking with their pocketbooks, a metric conservatives love to use except in cases like this, where it speaks against them.
The popularity of books and films like Fight Club and Office Space, monuments of the modern ennui of this generation against corporate conformity, career-minded type-As, and blind adherence to anyone who happens to be in authority, further demonstrates the distaste of conservative values.
Despite repeated attempts of conservative governments like Alabama and other states to ban the sale of "marital aids", sex toys topped a record 2 billion dollars in sales last year according to MSNBC, and has been steadily increasing.
Despite recent bids by the religious right and the Bush administration to legislate against gay marriage, in the past few years, thirteen more states have recognized gay marriage or equivalent unions as legitimate.
Despite the efforts of conservatives to lure the "youth crowd", college students voted overwhelmingly for Kerry in the 2004 election. The highest support for Bush was among the business majors, with 46%, while humanities majors, education majors, science and engineering majors, and humanitarian and arts majors supported Kerry by 66%. In other words, all the future educators, scientists, architects, film producers, musicians -- all the people who actually think, get things done, and influence culture -- swing liberal, while the business majors, destined to be little more than the useless middle managers of tomorrow, are the biggest conservative supporters.. and then, by less than half.
Despite continuing pushes by conservatives to mandate school prayer, oust sex education, remove teaching of evolution and replace it with "intelligent design", and other inane initiatives based solely on religion, nearly 1.1 billion people in the world today consider themselves non-religious (atheist, agnostic, secular humanist, etc), bested only by Islam and Christianity by sheer numbers -- and those numbers are dwindling. Close to a fifth of Americans, and nearly a third of Brits, place themselves in this category.
It's over, conservatives. Pack it up. You have lost. You lost when we, the children of the 80s and 90s, watched our parents work 50 hours a week for corporations which downsized them anyway and CEOs increased their own salaries more than twohundredfold.
You lost when we were handed the three trillion dollar debt your hero Reagan racked up for us to defeat an "enemy" that was about to collapse on its own.
You lost when we watched your hero Bush turn a budget surplus into yet another massive deficit to fight a war based on a lie, and couldn't be bothered to show up at the funerals of our friends who came home from Iraq in bodybags.
You lost when, after conservatively refusing to teach us about condoms, because sex is evil (but guns are good) we watched our friends die of AIDS.
You lost when we turned our cute childhood hobby of computers into the power that drives the modern economy and news outlets, bringing vast amounts of information to the world and letting the everyman have his say on the internet (hi!), while you sue us, censor us, argue about legislating an incorporeal global network, and bicker about wiretapping us.
You lost when you taxed us into oblivion for social security, something we will never see.
You lost when we tried it your way, and the result was religious strife, eroding civil liberties, a neverending war against an undefinable enemy, sexual intolerance, class divides, and oppression.
In another two decades or so, conservatism will largely be obsolete. It's out of touch with nearly everything that matters, especially the people who are about to run the world while conservatives all soak off the social security they've ripped from the dot-com crowd with no intention of repaying. The institutions held so dear by conservatives are crumbling -- the gays are marrying, the women are sexual, and people are caring less and less about what a two thousand year old book has to say.
We've been left to fend for ourselves, and we're okay with that. We don't care who is gay. We don't care who is Christian. We don't care who is white. We take lower-paying jobs to enjoy higher qualities of free time. We don't need your bloated social security, your return to family values, your undying loyalty to your company and career that has failed so often in the past, or your unswerving trust in government, your faith in Jesus, or your rampant jingosim. We don't need you.
La vie boheme.