« "nonconsensual warrantless blood draw" | Main | some historical notes »

April 18, 2013


I don't know what you mean by conservative. I have the impressio that there is pretty good data which indicates tht people freeze inot certain attitudes in their twenties and tend to retain those attitudes as the decades go by. Of course, as the decades go by life around them will change, but their attitudes and perceptions often don't. Thus they become old fogeys relative to the younger generations. But the precise nature of their old fogey outlook could be dramatically different from and far more progressive than the old foey outlook of old people three generations back.

I do think that the young, raised iin good circumstances, do see life as full of possiblities. On the other hand, realistically,for many young people life is not full of possibilities and growing up is an experience i realizing how many doors are shut, how many opportunitiesa re no longer available, and how much the deck is stacked against them as compared to my youth or my father's youth.

I didn't have a precise definition of conservative in mind, more of a general sense of not wanting change. I realize that 'conservative' is a loaded term, but until someone can figure out some terms that we can all agree with, I guess we are kind of stuck with the word to represent both a resistance to change and a arch-reactionary approach to government.

I agree with Laura that people don't really grow to be more "conservative" but freeze in their perceptions. My evidence for this is anecdotal - I know a group of people, some of whom are in their seventies (older than me), who formed their opinions in their revolutionary 1960's. Those people are totally in-your-face fighters, not wanting to compromise on any issue, unwilling to listen to anyone who sees compromise as the only practical solution. Raising their voice in protest is what they do. And it's good in a large room - their concerns are usually valid, etc. But maybe not practical.

And the word "conservative" means different things to different people. Am I "conservative" because I'm a "conservationist"? Am I "conservative" when I support the use of the military (and maybe it depends)? I can't think of any other way that I'm "conservative".

But as to the recent horrible crimes, I hope that our criminal justice system works well, to identify and capture and punish the real perpetrators. And if it turns out that it was a conspiracy by domestic terrorists, they should all be punished criminally (and I hope we get all of them, and I hope we get them good). And if it was a conspiracy by foreign perpetrators with whom we are at war, I hope we get them. And I hope that whatever we do, we are able to spare innocents.

Funny, I find the opposite. In my twenties I was a libertarian (so I was a slow learner) Regan was elected President when I was thirty, I voted for him. By 1992, I was a campaign volunteer for Clinton and my biggest issue with him was that he wasn't a liberal. He was a DLC founder that thought the way for Democrats to win was for them to become Republicans Lite. Through the intervening years I have continued to drift left. I attribute it mostly to broadening experience.

We have, as one colleague put it to me, replaced our pre-9/11 naïveté with post-9/11 sobriety. Where before we’d have been struck dumb with shock about such events, now we are almost calculating about them.

I hesitate to disagree with Atul Gawande but this seems wrong. There are 5 different Level 1 Trauma centers within 2 miles of the attack site. All five are major teaching hospitals. What happened at those hospitals is what trauma centers are supposed to do, and what they're always supposed to have done.

I mean, if there was a refinery explosion/fire outside Boston on Sept 10 2001 and they airlifted 100 injured people to those five hospitals, would the result really have been that different? Does anyone think that the nurses watching CNN report on a major refinery explosion with hundreds of badly wounded people inbound wouldn't have dropped what they were doing and prepped eight operating rooms for vascular and ortho surgeries? Really?

We know that in a trauma situation, getting to a level 1 trauma facility significantly improves the probability of survival. And we know that getting to the ER faster is always better than getting there slower. So downtown Boston is probably the best place in the world for victims to survive a terrorist attack or major industrial accident.

I figure that if you took a top-ranked hospital from pre-9/11 and told the staff "there's been a bombing, victims are on their way", they'd do a comparable job, even though they hadn't seen 9/11. It is their job after all. And they did an amazing incredible job.

I've been up all night. I was supposed to just be working, but I kept taking breaks to read the Boston Globe's twitter stream, which was by far the best news source on the firefight in Boston.

One down, at least one to go. Be prudent, dear Bostonians.

Brothers from *Chechnya*?!? Can someone with a clue explain what their beef with the US might be?

This is a head scratcher, for sure.

The term "conservative" sometimes gets the meaning "cautious, prudent, careful".

It that sense, age makes us conservative. It's like the saying about pilots: there are old pilots, and bold pilots, but no old bold pilots. The ones that survive are (or learn to be) "conservative" in the sense above.

But "conservative" has little to do with right-wing political Conservatism, which is radical, disruptive, bold and incautious. IOW, the exact opposite of "conservative".

Two brothers, Chechen, came here with their families several years ago as refugees from the war there. Legal residents, the younger brother at least came up through Cambridge MA public schools.

Older brother, the one who was shot, was a competitive boxer and was hoping to perhaps represent the US in Golden Gloves. Had a girlfriend.

Read a FB post from a guy who lives down the block from them and their family in Cambridge. Totally surprised, the younger brother of course seemed like such a nice young guy.

Who knows WTF their beef was, or if they were involved in anything broader or more organized. Maybe they were just a pair of damaged f***ed up angry young men. They grew up in a freaking hideous violent war zone, no doubt that will twist your brain.

I'm sure we'll get all the details, in depth, as time goes on.

My observation would be that what locks in by the late 20s is not political position in the left-right sense. Rather it is political position in the moderate-extreme sense.

People do not go so much from moderate to more extreme in their positions, or from extreme to more moderate. There is a little of that, but not a great amount. But what you see more (not most people, even so, but more) is people who were extreme on one end of the left-right spectrum going to extreme on the other end. That is, if you are extremely liberal at 25, you are more likely to go from there to extremelyconservative, than you are to go from there to moderate. Likewise if you were extremely conservative at 25.

It is as if, for some people, what is important is not so much the content of their positions as that those positions be absolute and unyielding. It's uncertainty and nuance that they cannot deal with.

My thoughts this morning are with Sunil Tripathi, a student at Brown who apparently spent part of the night having his name bandied about on-line as one of the bombing suspects. Which appears to be completely wrong -- but for at least the next few days he is going to have to deal with people who haven't gotten the correction.

Sometimes, what our modern super-fast flow of information turns out to be is a super-fast flow of misinformation. And the corrections frequently spread more slowly, and less far, than the original bad information.

Many have observed that almost everyone becomes more conservative as they get older. I wonder if the shift in imagination is, more than aching joints and slower mental processes, why this happens.

My thought on this is that, as you grow older, your sense of what is possible becomes more firmly grounded in, and bounded by, reality.

In certain contexts, this bears a passing resemblance to becoming "more conservative", but IMO that's really not the case in current-day US political and social culture.

And *my* observation is that as people get older, we get more like ourselves.

My mother, now in her late 80s, is also of the opinion that the reduction in sex hormones and drive with age makes anger/fear (adrenaline) responses more significant, which can tip the emotional balance toward reactionary conservatism and Fox Derangement Syndrome.

It is a very small world. I live about 4 blocks from the bombers' house. A few months ago, JanieM and Bernard and I met at a great little southern restaurant that's probably a hundred yards from the bombers' house.

My mother, now in her late 80s, is also of the opinion that the reduction in sex hormones and drive with age makes anger/fear (adrenaline) responses more significant

I just always figured that, the older you get, the more realistic the idea that you're gonna die sometime soon becomes, and that freaks a lot of people out. Understandably, I would add.

My thought on this is that, as you grow older, your sense of what is possible becomes more firmly grounded in, and bounded by, reality.

aka "pragmatism", the insidious enemy of ideologues everywhere. telling an ideologue that a certain outcome is not possible is practically guaranteed to be met with accusations of being completely unfaithful to The Cause, of not wanting the preferred result, of working for the Enemy. and so the ideologues claim The Cause for themselves and run off into the wilderness with it.

/getting more conservative, but definitely not "conservative", as time goes by

And cleek highlights another problem we have. What "conservative" means, in a political sense, currently has come to have little or nothing conservative about it. (Not to mention being very little like what conservative meant in the political sense as little as a quarter century ago.)

"I just always figured that, the older you get, the more realistic the idea that you're gonna die sometime soon becomes, and that freaks a lot of people out. Understandably, I would add."

Can't say that it has had that effect on me. I suppose I had the 'advantage' of a bout of depression to take the edge off the fear of death, which edge it never regained after I got over the depression. I enjoy living, but the thought of dying seems to leave me entirely unmoved ever since.

" What "conservative" means, in a political sense, currently has come to have little or nothing conservative about it."

That would be only fair, in as much as "liberal" has come to have little or nothing to do with liberty". I still am amazed that the Democratic party has become the party of censorship. Who saw that coming?

I believe I have noted this before, but liberal, while having the same root as liberty, is not derived from that word, but rather, both words developed at roughly the same time from the Latin root liber, so this would be a Bellmorian factoid.

but for at least the next few days he is going to have to deal with people who haven't gotten the correction.

If so, at least they'll have located him: Sunil Tripathi has been missing since March 16th, which is why his name was in the news to begin with.

Glenn Beck still insists it is the Saudi bomb victim that was the actual perpetrator and the usual suspects jumped on the bandwagon. And then there are the usual reactions form the Right that anyone of us could have predicted because they come up on each and every occasion (real or totally made-up, it does not matter. THEY nuked Power Cable (Nebraska) yesterday, didn't they? Why did the MSM covered that up again?).

Considering that words are mere vocables (I know Lj is going to correct this, or at least flesh it out), and the "words" for liberal and conservative were "umpf" and "urph" respectively, during pre-history before our root languages were developed and refined, probably we need to reconsider our tentative grasp on meaning.

Schmlaga, I say, and I mean it with its original intent.

You know what I mean?

See Scalia/Thomas, vol vvl, coyote vrs roadrunner, Arizona Circuit, 1891.

They know what I'm saying, you know what I'm saying?

I think that what locks in in the twenties is a perception of the fundamentals of how society works, a perspective. That perspective might or might not lead to a tendency to vote a certain way.

I got a glimpse of this while we were doing the search for a new manager for the HOA where I live. We got 22 applications from people with extensive high level eperiences, excellent references, lots of education. Most of them were stretching things pretty far by applying for our manager position. At least one applicant was going through bankruptcy.

I was surprised when the other members of the search committee (average age seventy plus) assumed that any candidate under fifty was looking to use us as a stepping stone while looking for a better job elsewhere. They had no sense at all of how hard the economy is for people still in the working years, no sense at all of how hard it is even for an educated person with experience and references to fiind and keep a job with a middle class income.

They had no idea what a life boat our manager position could be for a person with a family to support.

But those seventiy yearolds were people who lived their lives in a rising economy: the GI Bill, affordable college education, heaviy taxes on the rich and an expanding middle class whose buying power was creating jobs. They just had no idea how much the skids had been greased for them thoughout their working lives.

The two Repubicans on the Board were very hostile/suspicsious of the applicant who was going through Chapter 13. They even claimed that "money pressure" would "distract" him if we hired him. They even claimed that we might be tempted to embezell funds from the HOA if we hired him! They had no idea at all what reality was like outside their own experience.

The Chapter 13 was a busiinessman who got caught by a house deal that was ruined when th eeconomy crashed and the bank holding his loans failed. They didn't see his efforts to find a job as repsonsible behavior, They saw it as...I'm not sure exactly, but somehow a threat to them.

Anyway that brings up another factor: there are people who simply cannot understand expereicnes that they themsleves did not have, while there are others who habitually compare their own perspectives to others. There are also people who seem to ahve been born seeing life through a filter of fearfulness and others who are born seeig life with a willinness to learn and change their minds.

My gues is that the fearful, narrow people get more fearful and narrower as tiime goes on because change, to them, is seen as a threat to their sense of reality. The others, the ones who can see multiple points of view and who have a pattern of being able to change their minds, will continue with the same flexiblity.

But most people are a complicated mix of all those things.

I went through a youthful libertarian phase, though I was a bit of a warmonger earlier in that phase - something I don't consider to be particularly libertarian these days. But I was always against the drug war and censorship, and still am (even if I don't think corporations are people).

What I dropped was my social-Darwinism. I held some very ugly positions based on abstract ideas and divorced from human experience. (That side of it I think was consistent with warmongering.)

I blame a semi-crappy childhood for my earlier lack of humanity, which caused me to take some positions that are consistent with aspects of American political conservatism. I had to figure things out a bit later in life than I otherwise would have.

I don't see my political foundation shifting much from where it is now that I'm in my 40s. I might change policy preferences based on circumstances - but I would be applying the same principles, just under different conditions.

The people most prone to becoming conservative later in life, in the political sense, I think, are those who come from the "I got mine, GFY" angle.

The comments to this entry are closed.