How to Confront Reality

41% conservative, 21% liberal

A few days ago I caught Steve Benen bemoaning and marveling and explaining away the long-established fact that in the United States self-identified conservatives outnumber self-identified liberals by a lot. The comments on Benen’s blog were heavily into explanations of how the word “liberal” has been defined as bad by right-wingers, and how lots of people have liberal views but are afraid to call themselves “liberal”.

Let’s get real. There are more conservatives than liberals. People who don’t like liberalism for the most part know what it is they don’t like. They aren’t just put off by what they’ve heard said about “liberals”. They really, really don’t like you.

Accept that. There may be fewer of you liberals, and many conservatives dislike you. That doesn’t mean you aren’t right. It does mean that your politics don’t succeed nationally unless you build bridges to people who don’t call themselves liberal. Like those 36 percent who claim to be moderate. Most of those folks will listen to reason and might vote for a candidate you like. You don’t increase your credibility with those voters when you call Obama a sellout for endorsing positions that moderates tend to agree with, like “government spending is too high.” It also doesn’t help to heap scorn on Christian belief, or go off on racism or middle-class people who “vote against their own best interest.” They vote the way they see fit; it’s not usually a winning approach to explain to them that you know what’s best for them. Try not to discount the possibility, on this issue or that, that the other guy might be right about what’s best for him, and you might be wrong.

You don’t have to be agreeable with everybody, but you’re better off ignoring some people. You can write off a lot of conservatives. Many of them can’t be moved. Don’t disgrace yourself by getting down in the dirt with them, if that’s where they go.

[Updated to correct typo “they way they see fit”.]

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