By: Jonathan Livi  | 

Trends in Politics

People often form their political opinions based on micro-issues. By this I mean that they look into fine details of economic and social policy, and develop views in accordance with the policies they identify with. I do not do this. I like to form opinions based on macro-issues. Instead of engaging in frivolous research into policies and statistics that I cannot understand or vet, I look for trends in political movements, and look to my values to see if these trends are acceptable to me or not. These trends are easily discernable and usually not up for debate. Therefore,  not only do they provide me with a more reliable understanding of things, they make political discussion more substantive or fruitful, as the discussion does not necessarily deteriorate into a quarrel over obscure facts and conflicting premises.

In full disclosure, I agree with conservatives on most positions. Thus, the following will be a description of the broad trends and macro-issues that have led me to develop a conservative worldview.

One of the most important trends in politics is that conservatives always attempt to shrink the size of government, while the left always attempts to expand it. This trend is a giveaway, as it tells me that conservatives are more responsible when it comes to granting people power than liberals. Responsible is the key word here. As someone who believes that humans have a strong natural tendency to amass power and rule over their peers, seeing the left expand the power of the bureaucratic elite so willingly is not only bothersome, it is worrisome. It implies that the left is irresponsible when it comes to the allocation of power. I fear a world in which the left has the unrestricted ability to expand the power of the few individuals who reside in the Capitol. I am convinced that such a scenario would end in tyranny, and only then would people wake up and realize the danger of granting people power gratuitously.

Now, consider the fact that  senior citizens tend to vote conservative. This is another good indicator of the superiority of a conservative worldview. Why? For anyone who was raised by an older authority it should be obvious. Older people are wiser than younger people are.  They have by definition experienced more, and are less controlled by their irrational emotions. Older people have made stupid decisions and have learned from them. Younger people still haven’t made those decisions, and if they have, they probably have yet to face the consequences.

It does not stop there. Not only are older people more likely to be conservative, so are married people. And married people with kids—even more so. This too must be indicative of something; for marriage and parenthood are character-building institutions. They make people better. They force people to learn responsibility by making them worry about putting food on the table and making sure their kids get a decent education. They teach people selflessness by having them provide for their offspring with the expectation of nothing in return. It is unthinkable to me that this all means nothing. It is unthinkable that such people’s faculties of thought are no better than a college educated millennial’s. Thus, when having to choose between the politics of the young and hip and the politics of the old and responsible, I’ll take the latter, even though I’m only twenty years old.

Another very important aspect of politics is the media. Why is it that conservatives have a virtual monopoly on talk radio, while liberals have a virtual monopoly on the television and movie industries? What caused this divide? Ostensibly, the reason for this divide is happenstance, and it has no major ramifications. This was my position on the matter as well. But that all changed when I came across a book titled “Amusing Ourselves to Death” by Neil Postman. In the book, Postman makes the reasonable argument that different types of media permit very different kinds of discourse to take place. For example, smoke signals, used in more primitive societies, cannot be a conduit for elevated theological discussion. That much is obvious. But this reasoning also applies in ways that that are not obvious. For example, can television provide for as substantive a discourse as the written word? According to the Postman, it cannot. While the written word is static and can be analyzed from generation to generation, television is constantly moving and does not allow the viewer more than a few moments to analyze what was seen. This qualitative difference led the author to conclude, that while typography can be successfully used for entertainment and deep thought, television can only successfully be used for entertainment—and not deep thought (barring a few rare exceptions.)

The same distinction applies to the divide in the talk radio and television/movie industries. Talk radio undeniably allows for a much more elevated and rational discussion than does television. A radio show host often has over three full hours to dwell on one topic. A cable news channel, by way of comparison, would be committing ratings suicide if it devoted one hour to only three topics. Similarly, the lack of imagery in talk radio means that information is processed through the ear, where rational thought prevails. Television however, enters information through the eyes, where emotion—not reason—dominates.

The fact that conservatives have come to dominate talk radio is no coincidence. It is entirely to do with messaging. Where rationality pervades, conservatives seem to flow. Where emotion pervades, conservatives are understandably absent. When seeing this phenomenon, I have no choice but to assume that conservative discourse is probably more serious and thoughtful than that of their liberal counterparts.

This leads me to the next trend: the fact that Hollywood practically unanimously votes left. The lesson to be learned from this is simple and it can be gauged using a metric called “the Hollywood test.” The metric works as follows: whatever Hollywood does, do the opposite. Hollywood, in today’s culture, represents the epitome of decadence. Its obsession with material wealth, good looks, fame, glory, and hedonism makes it a perfect model of how not to live. When seeing Hollywood in all its glory, I’m constantly reminded of the first verse of Psalms that says: “Happy is the man that hath not walked in the counsel of the wicked, nor stood in the way of sinners, nor sat in the seat of the scornful.” In keeping with this verse, I try not associate myself with Hollywood at all, whether physically or intellectually. Thus, when Hollywood votes left, I vote right.

The final trend I would like to discuss has to do with Israel. Favoring the Palestinian cause over Israel’s safety is an immoral position. It is immoral because it puts the lives of innocent Israelis at risk while strengthening the causes of Islamist groups who have a record of committing heinous crimes against humanity. This is so clear, that someone who is against Israel must have something wrong with his or her moral compass.  There is no other way to explain it.  So what am I supposed to think when I see that almost all anti-Israel sentiment comes from the left? Am I supposed to ignore it? Am I supposed to assume it is an isolated incident? That the left is getting this wrong, but on every other issue, the leftist moral compass works just fine? Such reasoning is baseless. When someone commits murder, it is not an isolated incident. It is rather indicative of deep moral flaws that  have been unattended to. The same should apply to the left’s hatred of Israel. It is so backwards a moral position that it is impossible to isolate. It must be indicative of something badly wrong with leftist thinking and with leftist morality. This is the only reasonable conclusion. I am thus dumbfounded by the scores of Jews who have such passionate love for Israel, but who still cling to every other leftist position fervently. It makes no sense to me.

I hope this was a clear exposition on why I believe in conservative principles. The goal was to stay as far away from the fine details as possible, which will hopefully bring, if not agreement, clarity.