Identifying those Relatively Apolitical Americans with Conservative Instincts
There’s a demographic out there that I can describe but not label.
These folks are instinctively conservative, but probably don’t apply that label to themselves. They work for a living, or they are looking for work. They can’t stand what they perceive as whining.
But they don’t identify with the Republican party. They look at the leadership of the party, at least in Washington — House speaker John Boehner, Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell, RNC chair Reince Priebus — and don’t feel any sense of connection to them.
In fact, they don’t really relate to or connect with any particular politician. They either tune out politics as much as possible, or they find the political process to be dominated by adults acting like children and bickering in a selfish, obstinate manner.
One reason they don’t feel any particular attachment to the current crop of Republican leaders — or perhaps the last Republican presidential standard-bearer, Mitt Romney — is that they’re suspicious, or at least wary of Wall Street, or most big companies. They may work for a big company but they don’t feel a particular loyalty or identification with their employer.
These folks might sound like potential Tea Partiers, but at some point, these folks either tuned out the Tea Party or got turned off by some of the more fiery rhetoric. The Tea Party rallies almost inevitably feature somebody dressed up in Revolutionary War garb, and that’s not who they are.
However, Common Core drives them nuts because they don’t understand the homework their kid is bringing home. They feel sorry for all of the children from Central America coming over the border right now, but they don’t feel that taking care of those kids should be America’s duty.
When these folks get galvanized, it’s more often by a figure outside the political arena who articulates a conservative value. Think of Tim Tebow, or Dr. Ben Carson, or “Dirty Jobs” host Mike Rowe — soon to return to CNN — lamenting America’s lawsuit-minded culture and the loss of a sense of shame. Or Gene Simmons of Kiss, arguing that it’s silly to demonize the rich, and important to assimilate immigrants and to stand by Israel in the Middle East.
Or Adam Carolla, raging against political correctness . . .
It’s weird that comedians are on the list of people who are offending other people with the things they say. It’s counterintuitive. It’s like — I think every year Variety or the Hollywood Reporter or one of those magazines comes out with a list of celebrities or notables that hate the gay community. Whatever it is. I was on that list, because in 2011 I made a joke about Chaz Bono. Jesus Christ, if you can’t joke about Chaz Bono, then we’re all through! They had Tracy Morgan, several of the people on the list were comedians. And when did this start up? They’re comedians, onstage, making jokes! They may mean it half the time, but they’re still making jokes, why are they held to the same standard as statesmen?
Here’s Nicole Curtis, host of “Rehab Addict” on HGTV, in a February Facebook post:
In the past couple of weeks, I have had a few unpleasant experiences with women who actually had the nerve to state that they are a minority business owner (because they are a woman) and that should do what ? This is where I bang my head — I am a business owner who happens to be a woman — don’t judge me on my gender — judge me on my work — ladies — you want equal ground — gain it by being equal in professionalism and quality of work — not by making excuses that you are a small minority business owner. It brings the rest of us down. I scrubbed floors for 10 years and worked my rear off to get where I am at-don’t think for a minute that I’m the person to whine to that you should be able to short step the process of dedication because you are a woman — last time I checked, I am too. We are all given opportunities when we put the time in and develop the drive — teach your daughters that that’s how you get ahead — no entitlement here, please.
Even a bit of chef-turned-TV-travelogue host Anthony Bourdain, in his libertarian moments:
In New York, where I live, the appearance of a gun — anywhere — is a cause for immediate and extreme alarm. Yet, in much of America, I have come to find, it’s perfectly normal. I’ve walked many times into bars in Missouri, Nevada, Texas, where absolutely everyone is packing. I’ve sat down many times to dinner in perfectly nice family homes where — at end of dinner — Mom swings open the gun locker and invites us all to step into the back yard and pot some beer cans. That may not be Piers Morgan’s idea of normal. It may not be yours. But that’s a facet of American life that’s unlikely to change.
I may be a New York lefty — with all the experiences, prejudices and attitudes that one would expect to come along with that, but I do NOT believe that we will reduce gun violence — or reach any kind of consensus — by shrieking at each other. Gun owners — the vast majority of them I have met — are NOT idiots. They are NOT psychos. They are not even necessarily Republican (New Mexico, by the way, is a Blue State). They are not hicks, right wing “nuts” or necessarily violent by nature. And if “we” have any hope of ever changing anything in this country in the cause of reason — and the safety of our children — we should stop talking about a significant part of our population as if they were lesser, stupider or crazier than we are.
It’s almost as if the political arena de-legitimizes the voices of its participants. But when a figure untainted by the 24-7 hypocritical rugby scrum that is our politics expresses what we would consider to be a conservative value, a lot of folks who aren’t into politics applaud.
Am I describing instinctively conservative populists? Or is this the “libertarian populist” phenomenon described by Ben Domenech and Conn Carroll?