Tuesday, September 21, 2004

I think, therefore I feel, I think

There once was a Senator named Kerry,
A ketchup queen he did marry.
His aspirations were high,
many thoughts he did try,
as his opinions continued to vary.

He continued to preach “I’m for real,
and a vote for me is ideal.
Though my flip-flops may stink,
I care not what you think,
but I truly care how you feel.”

While the limericks above were written in jest, they illustrate a fundamental difference between liberal and conservative attitudes. This difference became crystal clear to me several weeks ago as I sat in church on Sunday morning. For those of you who are offended by the church reference, I am sorry, but there is no separation of church and blog here!

Anyway, the pastor was explaining the different personality types used in the Myers-Briggs personality profile. One of the many things that Myers-Briggs does is to identify you as a thinker or a feeler. He went on to explain that thinkers attempt to analyze issues and make a decision based upon the facts, without necessarily taking emotion into account. Feelers, on the other hand, generally make decisions “because it is the right thing to do.” Neither the thinkers nor the feelers are right all the time, and the world needs a good dose of each type.

Herein lies the fundamental difference in our society. Liberals are feelers and conservatives are thinkers. Just take a listen to talk radio every now and then. It doesn’t matter who you listen to, any conversation between a conservative and a liberal will always disintegrate into one of them quoting facts and the other getting all emotional over everything.

How about prominent liberals and prominent conservatives? Prominent conservatives make their money by making sound business decisions based on thinking the possible scenarios through and making the best business decision, regardless of whether it “feels” like the right thing to do (think big stereotypical white businessman millionaire.) Prominent liberals make their living by making music, television shows, or movies that play on people’s emotions, regardless of if it makes any sense at all (think Fahrenheit 9/11 by Michael Moore.)

I could go on and on and on, but finally, the presidential campaign. George Bush is making his case that the world is a safer place because of his administration’s actions in the war on terror. His strategy is to present the facts and let you think about your choices. John Kerry is playing on emotions in trying to make you think that Bush is a lying, incompetent moron. Bush doesn’t rely on your feelings and Kerry doesn’t rely on your thoughts.

Overly simplistic? Maybe so, but just stop and look at the differences between the candidates and the parties and you will see enough examples to fill up a book.


Anonymous said...

In general, I would agree with you. Always the exceptions, though. I am feeling, by nature, & conservative, by choice.

J.D. said...

Wow, that sure is simple. Liberals "feel" and conservatives "think."

That is typical of Bush supporters - for us or against us, good or evil, appease or invade. Had Bush relied on facts instead of gut feel he would never have invaded Iraq - he would have listened to the military professionals and national security professionals telling him it was not a good idea.

That you think Bush is more about thinking than Kerry is simply staggering given the facts. Given everything that has ever come out of the man's mouth.

But even leaving that aside, your premise is flawed.

The two most similar groups in educational attainment and verbal proficiency are liberal Democrats and conservative Republicans. Ordinary, non-liberal Democrats are among the least educated political groups, second only to ordinary, conservative Republicans. There is a reason that Bush runs so well in the rural South, as you know the bastion of higher education and well-known for deep thinking. Bush runs well with the NASCAR crowd, the intellectual stars that they are. He runs poorly in the Northeast, home of the highest average educational levels in our nation - oops, I mean the uneducated North.

Republicans are more likely to have a college degree, while Democrats are more likely to have an advanced degree. Well, given that Republicans are more likely to be white and rich than democrats the college-degree thing is probably a factor of wealth and privilege. For instance, George W. Bush went to Yale and then Harvard Business School despite never being above a C student. Just an example.

So the most educated among us tend to be Democrats (you will probably now attack the "liberal eggheads" with an example of Bush's well-known anti-intellectualism in an effort to prove to me that Republicans are more likely to "think" rather than to "feel." Neat trick - go for it).

Yes, Kerry is playing on emotions to make you think Bush is lying and incompetent. For instance:


But who am I to question you - the relevation came to you at Church, so it must be true. I shouldn't question it - I should just go with what I feel.

I feel sick is what I feel. God help us.

Daver said...

It is quite interesting that TWD immediately began defending the education of liberals. I don't seem to recall mentioning anything about educational level in my "simple" observation. Was his reaction an emotional one based on the fact that I mentioned church in my original post, especially given my knowledge of his stance? Hmmm...feelings?

I do realize that John Kerry is an intellectual, just as I realize that William Jefferson Clinton was an incredibly educated President. I also realize, as liberals so often point out, that Mr. Bush is not as educated as either Kerry or Clinton.

Perhaps I did a poor job of explaining my point. I am not necessarily talking about natural intellect or the level or use of their education. What I am talking about is public perception of the party, it's values, and it's candidiate.

Which party is better at spin control? Without a doubt, the Democrats can clean the floor with the GOP on this one. Why? Because they know how to use emotions, feelings, etc. to win people over. Why was Clinton so popular? Did he have such grand ideas that he commanded such respect from the American public? Hell no! He was charming, he knew how to use the cameras to reach people. He touched people (no jokes here, I am serious)on an emotional level. Hell, in 1992, I even toyed with the idea of voting for him.

The conservatives, on the other hand, have not been able to do that in a long time. They tend to use facts and data as their basis instead of emotions. TWD will immediately point out that the GOP doesn't use all the facts, only the ones that serve their cause. I fully understand that, and I think that any educated voter will understand that the Dems use that practice as well.

So that is more of what I am talking about. Which route do the candidates take?

Simple? Yes. Thought provoking? I hope so.

On a personal note about TWD's comment - I love the line about NASCAR being the bastion of intelligence. That was a good one!

I too am sick about this election and it's possible outcome.

Frater Bovious said...

In general, I won't comment directly on Daver's writings, as, since he is one of the staff of The Global Exclaimer, it would seem too - partisan - of me.

However, I wish to point out something I have noticed. Liberal and Democrat and Conservative and Republican are used together so often that many times they are used interchangeably. They are not, however, interchangeable terms.

I had a history teacher in college make the interesting observation that a conservative Democrat in Texas would be a Republican in almost any other state.

Which takes me to a hitherto unconcious realization that I tend to think of TWD as conservative. Despite his very well stated belief that Kerry is the best candidate for President at this point in time.

However, checking myself, I decided to look up the word conservative, and learned to my horror that, by definition, I am not really a conservative. "MY GOD" I thought, "Am I a (shudder) LIBERAL!?"

Before I bore everyone with the dictionary definitions, I want to point out that the terms Liberal and Conservative have been hi-jacked by the various parties, starting with the demonization of the term 'liberal' by Reagan.

My American Heritage Dictionary (second college edition) defines conservative as "Tending to oppose change; favoring traditional views and values." That sounded a lot more stodgy that I pictured myself. But, definition 2 is "Moderate; cautious; restrained."

Keep that in mind.

Liberal is much much more complicated and directly related to political thought: "Having, expressing, or following political views or policies that favor civil liberties, democratic reforms, and the use of governmental power to promote social progress." Definition 2 is "Having, expressing, or following views or policies that favor the freedom of individuals to act or express themselves in a manner of their own choosing."

The definition goes on to a total of 9 variations, some of them having sub parts, as in 8a, (obs) "Permissible or appropriate for a freeborn man" and 8b "Morally unrestrained."

Conservative has 5 definitions, but one of them has subparts to subparts. Interestingly, it is not until the 3rd defintion that you get into politics.

I'd like to call attention to two of the definitions:

Conservative: "Moderate; cautious; restrained."
Liberal: "Morally unrestrained."

It is my perception that "Conservatives" tend to think of themselves and Liberals in those terms.

However, I think that "Liberals" tend to think of themselves and Conservatives in these terms:

Liberal: (#5) "Tolerant of the ideas or behavior of others, broadminded."
Conservative: "Tending to oppose change; favoring traditional views and values."

I'm curious to know what the various liberal and conservative minded people think of this so far, before I continue my thoughts. Please, talk amongst yourselves. fb

J.D. said...

Daver says "Which party is better at spin control? Without a doubt, the Democrats can clean the floor with the GOP on this one. Why? Because they know how to use emotions, feelings, etc. to win people over."

When he goes wrong he REALLY goes wrong. Daver, Karl Rove is the master of spin. If this was about facts Kerry would win with 85% of the vote. I won't even go into it - this should be so obvious and if you really think Dems are better at spin (as in the Factor's "no-spin zone") then I can't help you. But you do need help.

I discussed education because of your surprising conclusion that liberals are feelers and conservatives are thinkers. Education and analytical thought seem to go together, but perhaps I just FELT that way. :) But on these blogs it seems liberals are quoting facts and conservatives respond with feelings. Given that many of those who still think the invasion of Iraq was the right thing to do also think Saddam was behind the attacks on 9/11 I'll let others decide if they are thinking and using facts or going with their gut.

You think that Bush is presenting "facts" to show we are safer because of his war on terror. Yet the Army, the CIA, and the National Intelligence Council disagree. But they probably just "feel" that way. Like the Republican senators who have criticized him in recent days.

I agree that the meanings of the terms liberal and conservative have been lost. Many Bush supporters hear liberal and think "hippie communist deadbeat loser." And of course that is the preferred opponent of the right since the defeat of McGovern, so they always try to characterize all democrats that way. But I am not a hippie, a commie, a deadbeat, and arguably not a loser. And I am a liberal.

I often find when speaking with right-wingers that they conclude, as did Frater, that I am really a conservative but just don't know it. I have even had conservative law professors tell me that. Yet on every major issue I usually line up with the Democratic party. I believe in responsibility and accountability and welfare reform (you don't work you don't eat), but I also believe in a social safety net - I believe in welfare. So does the Democratic Party, which usually surprises most Republicans (who choose not to believe it). I am pro-choice. I am against affirmative action, which is rare but not unheard of in my party. I am for gay marriage. I think homosexuals should be allowed to openly serve in the military. I believe in a strong national defense - so does my party. I don't like corporate welfare and I don't think every defense contract or weapons system that comes along contributes to our national defense. I am pro-union. I am an out-and-out unabashed capitalist - and so is my party. I love this country, and think if an idiot wants to burn the flag that the government shouldn't stop him - he has the right to be stupid even if it offends others. I am against most gun control laws - something most Republicans agree with, but I also want legalization of marijuana - today. I want us to reduce drug use in this country, and I think the "war on drugs" is counter-productive. I want an end to mandatory minimum sentences. I support the death penalty - so do many democrats. I am against school vouchers unless they are designed carefully. I think our prisons are a national disgrace. I think most public school teachers are hard-working, underpaid, and not at fault for the state of our public education - for that I blame Republicans and prop. 13. I support the estate tax strongly. I am against all the Bush tax cuts. I am for capital gains taxes. But I don't like taxes, I just think they are necessary. I am for drivers's licenses for illegal immigrants. I am a member of the ACLU. I am a liberal democrat.

So why do so many conservatives think I am one of them but just don't know it? Because so many conservatives don't know what the Democratic party stands for. They believe the Fox News line, where weak and stupid lefties appear, where only insensible democratic positions are spoken of, where reasonable and well-spoken democrats aren't allowed on the network at all. They think democrats are those who were in the streets of NYC during the RNC - even though many of them were in Boston during the DNC, getting arrested there too. They don't want to confront a reasonable opposition that might have better ideas, they want a simpler world where the right is right and left is wrong. They see people demonstrating against our incursion into Afghanistan and think all Democrats think that way. They see legitimate questions raised about Iraq and think "how can anybody oppose the war on terror? Those people are crazy." But we aren't opposing the war on terror (which includes Afghanistan) but the invasion of Iraq (which wasn't part of the war on terror until AFTER we invaded).

In short, they feel instead of think. And I think analytically about what is best for this nation - for all of us, not just some of us.

Frater Bovious said...

So, this leads to a question I've often wondered about. How many people are politically whatever their father was? Without truly figuring out what that means? My guess is nearly 90%.

TWD, I just have to say I really enjoy reading your comments. And, from a republican/democrat viewpoint, there are things on which I completely agree with you and things on which I totally disagree. I just wish the national discourse on these issues could be raised to the level of what I've seen in these various blogs we blog on.

Having said that, it's time for you to come out of the closet and embrace your conservatism. You can still be a Democrat. ;=} fb

Frater Bovious said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Frater Bovious said...

Things I feel I think, I feel:

A constitutional amendment on marriage is stupid. If this keeps up we’ll be legislating whether to breathe through our noses or our mouths. After all, nose breathing filters the air better, preventing various lung disorders and the consequent burdens on society. Why isn’t Government on top of this issue already?

(You know, if we could exhume all the founding fathers and attach powerful magnets to them, and re-inter them with windings around their caskets, we could end our dependence on oil by harnessing pollution free electricity as they spin in their graves.)

Back to gay marriage, for reasons that are difficult to articulate concisely, I am opposed to the concept. But, I firmly believe it is a states rights issue.

I don’t feel like what the president believes or feels regarding abortion is a reason to vote or not vote for that president.

Saddam Hussein did not plan 9-11. He did rejoice. No, that is not a reason to go after him.

The what, how and why of Iraq are complex beyond the ability of this comment to address. I don’t have the confidence in Bush 43 that I did in Bush 41, and this pains me.

I hate the term “Weapons of Mass Destruction.” It is a meaningless term except when used to refer to nuclear weaponry. But that already has a name. (No, not nukular .) WMD is a misnomer used to lump very different types of weapons into one whole. I fault all of politics and media for the perpetuation of this silly terminology, and the confusion and deception caused by its use.

I believe in TANSTAAFL (Coined by Robert Heinlein: There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch.) This is a restatement of the second law of thermodynamics. It is as close to truth as we’re going to get without being religious.

Welfare is an appropriate response by a wealthy society to citizens in need.

Affirmative Action is a distasteful necessity, still. (shameless plug: Affirmative)

I used to think I was opposed to the concept of an Estate Tax until I looked into it and learned the purpose was to prevent the creation of a Nobility. It’s a complicated concept. But, if my dad wants to leave me all of his money, I will not become landed gentry. In fact, it could become an actual liability, so I think the tax law could use a reality adjustment.

I don’t blame Republicans or Democrats for anything. We the people vote. It is all our fault.

I’ll stop now, as I am supposed to be working.

I shall close by quoting TWD: “…I think analytically about what is best for this nation - for all of us, not just some of us.”


J.D. said...

frater, the love is mutual. And you crack me up.

When are you going to embrace your true love, the Democratic party? C'mon, try it. The first hit's free.

Reminds me of Hooked on Phonics. I was hooked on phonics once. It was hell. Trolling through an alley at 3am and selling myself just to get a vowel or the "ch" sound. Sure, the first lesson's free.

"(You know, if we could exhume all the founding fathers and attach powerful magnets to them, and re-inter them with windings around their caskets, we could end our dependence on oil by harnessing pollution free electricity as they spin in their graves.)" ROFLMAO.



"I hate the term “Weapons of Mass Destruction.” It is a meaningless term except when used to refer to nuclear weaponry. But that already has a name. (No, not nukular .) WMD is a misnomer used to lump very different types of weapons into one whole. I fault all of politics and media for the perpetuation of this silly terminology, and the confusion and deception caused by its use." AWESOME!!! I THINK YOU, ME, AND THE ARMY WAR COLLEGE ARE THE ONLY ONES THAT UNDERSTAND HOW USELESS CHEM WEAPONS ARE, AND HOW NON-EXISTENT BIO WEAPONS ARE. ALL THE WORRY ABOUT ANTHRAX ATTACKS, THE MILLIONS SPENT ON IT, AND FOUR PEOPLE DIED. FOUR. MORE DIED FROM FLESH-EATING BACTERIA THAT YEAR. FUCKING FOUR.

I believe in TANSTAAFL too. No wantie work, no gettie eat. Welfare is to be a helping hand, not a hand-out.

Your affirmative action post was brilliant - and I disagree. It needs to end, now. But I already said my piece on ALa71s site.

Estate Tax - you saying that just slowed Jefferson's spinning in the grave down somewhat. It isn't about "taking" from people - it is about not "giving" them what they didn't earn. Avoiding a concentration of wealth and power that will destroy our republic.

And yes, we are all responsible. We get the government we deserve, and sometimes what a person deserves is punishment for fucking up.

When are you formally changing your party registration to Democrat? :)

Hell, Frater (and Daver) if all Republicans were like you I might think about switching. But, sadly, they're not. Still, you are a credit to your party and proof that idea of a loyal opposition is better than a one-party state.

Keep putting great ideas in my head! I like it!

J.D. said...

Oh, and Frater, if your dad wants to leave ME all of his money I will register Republican. Assuming, of course, he has money. And damn right I will be landed gentry. I'll join exclusive country clubs and look down the masses.

Minions. That's what I want. I want some minions. I want to be the evil genius who screams "Get them you fools!" when the superhero breaks in.

Ever wonder about that? You are getting shot at, you and your buds are getting your asses kicked by the X-men or Batman and buttboy or somebody like that, and your boss, as he flees to safety, tells you to "get them, you FOOLS." I'd say "Fuck you, who are you calling a fool?!" and show Superman exactly where your secret escape tunnel was.

Wow, that was really off-topic, huh? I'm kind of amazed at where my mind takes me sometimes.

Daver said...

TWD – obviously you are a very well educated and thinking liberal Democrat. I get the sense that my original simple, and apparently na├»ve, statements somehow insulted you. I certainly did not mean to imply that Democrats DON’T think or that Republicans DON’T feel. That would be ridiculous.

I think if you were to visit my part of the country you might have a better idea of why I made my assertions in the first place. I live in Texas, a very conservative state that is also the home of President Bush. By virtue of my profession, I am in touch with many citizens on the middle to lower end of the economic spectrum, a group I suspect outnumbers the professional law community with which you are familiar. I bring that up to indicate that, by and large, these people are probably not as well educated and informed as your community.

That being said, despite the fact that this is Bush country, there are a LOT of Kerry supporters. I have had the opportunity to speak with many people planning to vote for John Kerry. When asked why, many will simply respond with “he’s not Bush” or “he’s got to do better than Bush.” Very few of these people can actually cite a specific view or policy that indicates Kerry would be a better choice. Follow up questions like “Why do you think Bush is bad?” usually garner a response akin to “Well, he is trying to take away my social security” or some other deeply emotional reason. The fact is that there is no factual basis for their answers. They are buying into a sound bite designed to appeal to their feelings. These are the same people who preached that Clinton was doing a great job, but were unable to provide facts to back that up. I am not saying there aren’t facts that back up those statements, just that these people felt good about Bill in the White House, so that was enough for them.

On the flip side, many of the conservatives I have asked had the converse reaction. They have cited economic factors, progress in the war, etc. to bolster their case. I know, I know, you are immediately going to attack the facts. Whether the facts are right or wrong is not central to my point. My point is that many of the conservatives I have spoken with will not react emotionally, but will rather use the information as they understand it to defend their choice. Please don’t refer to Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, and the Fox News Channel. They are not indicative of people I talk with regularly.

I sense that my experiences are somewhat different that yours. Good! That’s what makes this country great. I certainly appreciate you shooting my theory full of holes as it has made me stop and analyze some of my own views. You haven’t changed my mind, but I did discover that we have more in common than we have differences.

At the risk of sounding like a total smart-ass, I would like to ask an honest question, because I can’t seem to get a good answer anywhere else. Why would John Kerry be a good choice for President? I don’t really need a long answer; just a few short points would be fine. I have trouble divining my way through the rhetoric of the speeches to get to his views, and we don’t get fair and balanced coverage from the media around here.

My only request is that your answers not attack the President. I can see a few honest comparisons, but I am weary of answers that merely attack the President. I really truly want to know what you would tell me about John Kerry if I were an undecided voter.