Saturday, January 26, 2008

The mind of a conservative

I struggle to understand how conservatives think. It seems as if they reach conclusions that I just cannot fathom (e.g., that Republican are still the party of fiscal conservatism), so I stay on the lookout for insight into that thinking.

Adam's blog sheds some light. He complains about Otter's focus on prisons and his effort to stop "the overcrowding of our prisons." Our prisons are overcrowded, says Adam, because
Fundamentally, this comes back to the decline of family and the rate of fatherlessness in our communities.
The decline of the family. That is a concern of the right that seems to inform many of their priorities.

You know, I just don't see that families are in decline. Maybe the percent of nuclear families is lower, but that doesn't mean there are fewer families. Being part of a blended family, I think my family is just fine. My kids don't seem to be headed for prison.

A bigger reason for bulging prisons might be criminalizing drugs instead of providing treatment for users. But, conservative are usually into accountability (except when it comes to the Bush administration). So spend tax $$ to punish, rather than to help.

And BTW, I don't think the rate of "fatherlessness" is changing at all. So far, everyone still has to have a father. Perhaps there are fewer fathers in nuclear families, and thus not living with the kids. That doesn't make the kids fatherless.

I understand that conservatives are concerned about families in decline, but I don't think their conclusions (overcrowded prisons) logically flow from that concern. It'd be easy enough to show that large numbers of folks in prisons are from non-nuclear families, but there are many other stats that explain it even more closely. How about socio-economic status? If we had no poor people, we'd have way fewer folks locked up.


untamedshrew said...

I agree with your comment about not seeing families in "decline." Adam and his ilk assume that any form of family other than the ideal, nuclear family is necessarily bad. As a divorced parent, I still share the responsibility of raising my children with my ex-husband. We manage to do that job pretty well. No one's in juvie, and I don't expect that to happen. The implication that my family, and our ability to be good parents, is somehow compromised or wanting simply because we're divorced is offensive to me. It makes me really angry.

Sara E Anderson said...

When you're in prison, it's hard to be around for your children. So that's got to be part of it...

untamedshrew said...

Yeah, well married people are still allowed in prison, last time I checked.

ericn1300 said...

Alan, your problem in understanding how conservatives think is based on your definition of conservatism. A true conservative view is just to the right of moderate as a liberal view is just to the left of moderate. Your mistake is in considering the wing nut reactionaries as conservatives .

These guys are no more a conservative then the radicals of the SDS (Students for a Democratic Society) in the 70's were liberals. I've noticed a trend in the national media to distinguish these guys as “social conservatives” which is a good start in pointing out the difference but kinda like air brushing the warts off toads.

Alan said...

I agree that what is typically called conservative is probably more accurately described as reactionary. Reactionaries don't want to conserve, they want to turn back the clock. To wit, Steve Tahyn and his longing for 1950s families and values.

The right succeeded in making "conservative" a desired description, and "liberal" one to be avoided.

Binkyboy said...

Adam has responded, poorly as usual, and I would suggest that you not back down but instead go on the attack.

Mostly just because I like to watch him squirm and try to use logic that is so far above him that he actually gets nosebleeds reaching for it.

untamedshrew said...

I thought about taking you up on this suggestion Binky, but who has time for his drivel? You're right, it's so poorly written I had trouble identifying his various points. I'd love to see you and/or Alan respond, though!

fortboise said...

Not that *I* can explain the mind of others... but there is some room for discussion about symptoms and causes in sociology. There's no question that our large prison populations are caused in large measure by the criminalization of drugs. Or that intact and functional family structures are preferable to broken ones. ("House blend" is fine. :-)

Personally, I'd argue that intact COMMUNITIES are more important than families. And communities are built on shared economic purpose. Our winner-take-all economic system, abetted by too many elites of both political parties, is a bigger issue than "family values."