Surprise! If Your Political Beliefs Never Evolve, You Run The Risk Of Becoming A Conservative

Surprise! If Your Political Beliefs Never Evolve, You Run The Risk Of Becoming A Conservative

Everyone is very tired of talking about or thinking about Elon Musk. I, for one, am still really holding out hope that his Twitter deal will fall through somehow, because it is very clearly not a thing that is going to end well. Still, I feel the need to address a meme he shared on Twitter yesterday, if only because it is a ridiculous sentiment that is routinely expressed by people who should not, under any circumstances, be taken seriously.

So, first of all, this is provable bullshit on multiple fronts. For one, it is an actual fact that the Right has moved further right than the Left has moved left. As awful as they were in 2008, your average Republican was not actually a tiki-torch-toting, Daily Stormer- reading, hardcore racist going around shrieking about how people are eating babies to get high. And while they may have, weirdly, wanted to get a beer with recovering alcoholic George W. Bush, they did not call him their "God Emperor."

Also — fun fact, the progressive Left existed at that point as well. It's just that no one really acknowledged our existence except to talk about how we were totally embarrassing for opposing the Iraq War until around 2006 when all of a sudden everyone always opposed the Iraq War, what are you even talking about? All of the conversations we're having now — about white privilege, male privilege, single payer health care, police brutality, trans rights, even prison abolition — are conversations lots of people, myself included, were having decades ago. It's just taken this long for them to become more popular discussions. Frankly, it probably took social media for most of these things to become national conversations.

However! It's still mostly correct about one thing — if you stay exactly where you are and never change your views, you do run the risk of eventually becoming a rightwing blowhard.

The thing about being progressive or even being liberal is that it requires that one is able to accept social progress. If you stay the exact same forever and never change your opinions, you will eventually become a conservative. A lot of the things I believe that made me a full-on radical 20 years ago now make me a relatively average progressive. I can now sometimes vote for people in the actual Democratic Party that support some of the things I actually believe in, which really was not the case 20 years ago when people thought "liberal" was an insult. And it's not that my beliefs have necessarily changed, but rather that the times have. Eventually, everyone will agree that I was prematurely correct about everything all along.

Conservatism is just that — conservatism. It means conserving things the way they are or were and not changing with the times. Conservatives can believe the same things throughout their whole lives and never move an inch on the political spectrum, because "Wow, things sure were better back in the old days when ____" will remain a conservative position in nearly all cases not related to labor and unions.

If you hold on to the same beliefs you had 20 years ago and were not a full-on radical 20 years ago, you will eventually become a conservative. That's just how things work. Part of having a "liberal" mindset means being open to new ideas and the fact that you could perhaps be wrong about things; it means changing your behavior when you learn that said behavior is hurting a marginalized group of people. Having a progressive mindset means believing things can get better and working to make that happen.

So if your views don't change and you suddenly find your views more in line with the Right, it's not that the Left left you behind, it's that the world progressed and you did not, which then makes you a conservative. It's not hard.

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Robyn Pennacchia

Robyn Pennacchia is a brilliant, fabulously talented and visually stunning angel of a human being, who shrugged off what she is pretty sure would have been a Tony Award-winning career in musical theater in order to write about stuff on the internet. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynElyse


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