The Audacity and Betrayal of Thinking Differently

shockedWhen it comes to the world of politics, there are times when an shady act can fairly be categorized as a betrayal. It usually comes in the form of someone choosing expediency over principle. An off-the-cuff example of this would be former Florida governor Charlie Crist repeatedly switching party affiliations and throwing political allies under the bus, simply to advance his own career in government.

In other cases, perceived betrayals really aren’t betrayals at all, but rather disappointments over finding out that someone doesn’t think the way you expect them to think. Purist conservatives use the term RINOs (Republicans in Name Only) to describe those who dare to find common ground with the other side. Liberals like U.S. Congressman Bennie Thompson call black conservatives derogatory names like “Uncle Tom”, simply because they dare to have a different political view than that of most African Americans in this country.

The form of false political betrayal I find most amusing, however, is the kind that I see in everyday life, far away from Washington DC and the 24-hour cable news channels. It comes from everyday people who, for some bizarre reason, assume that everyone they meet shares their political beliefs. And when they find out otherwise, they treat the revelation as an act of treachery.

I’ve experienced this quite a bit throughout my life, and it seems to almost always come from people on the left. There are exceptions, of course, but liberals tend to be the ones who routinely bring up their political views in social situations, and treat them as if they’re universally accepted beliefs. The apparent expectation is for those around them to just nod their heads in agreement at what they say.

I’ve always found that phenomenon interesting considering that we live in a country where twice as many people consider themselves to be conservative as do liberal. It’s a real thing though, and as an author who’s met a lot of people over the past year while on my book tour, I’ve seen even more examples of it.

One of the more notable incidents came in October of last year. I paid a few bucks to set up an awning at a local art fair and sell copies of my novel. Like I do at all of my book events, I welcomed curious passers-by, handed out bookmarks, asked them what kind of books they liked, and told them what mine was about. People were very friendly that day (as they usually are), and I sold several copies.

In the late afternoon, a young man who looked like he was in his early or mid twenties stopped by. He was with an older gentleman who I assume was his father. He browsed a copy of my book for a minute or so, and looked as though he was going to buy it.

“It sounds interesting,” he told me as we exchanged some friendly smalltalk.

It was then that he happened to glance up at a promotional poster I had hanging inside my awning. His eyes widened when he noticed a small picture of the owner of the website I’m writing this column for: Bernard Goldberg.

I feature that picture on my poster, next to a written compliment Bernie gave me on my writing. I figured an endorsement of my work by a respected journalist – someone I admired for years before I ever began writing for this website – would help lend me some credibility to the product I was offering. In many cases, it’s done just that, but in this particular incident, it had the opposite affect.

The young man scowled, put the book down, and angrily whispered something to his father before the two of them walked off. I suspected I knew the reason for his reaction, but it was confirmed to me a couple minutes later when he returned with his father.

“Can I ask you a question?” he breathlessly asked.

“Sure,” I replied.

He pointed at Bernie’s picture and said, “When you have someone like him endorse your writing – someone so polarizing – don’t you risk turning off people from buying your book?”

I smiled at the notion that Bernie was polarizing since I consider him to be one of the most level-headed people on television. Yet, I realize that people who disagree with him probably view him that way, just as some people who read my columns probably think the same thing about me.

“I suppose it’s possible,” I told the guy, shrugging my shoulders. “But why would you refuse to read something that looks interesting to you, simply because you don’t like someone who is complimentary of my writing?”

A blank look formed on the guy’s face. He wasn’t sure how to answer my question.

“So, do you agree with him?” he asked in a huff.

I didn’t see what relevance it had to my book, but I was more than happy to answer his question. “On most things, I sure do,” I told him.

The expression that was etched across his face was one to behold. It was as if I had just stabbed him in the back. I wondered if there was a possibility that he had honestly never encountered a right-leaning thinker before. Did he truly have an expectation that some random stranger he met at an art fair would assuredly share his world view? And why was he so appalled that I didn’t?

“Well I’m not going to buy your book,” he told me.

I politely told him that that was fine, and I wished him a good day. As he walked away, I met eyes with his father who offered me an apologetic head nod.

The incident was amusing to me because as a conservative, I never assume that people I don’t know agree with me politically. In fact, my assumption is that they don’t. And even if I did know that someone was a far-left individual, why should I care – especially in the context of buying something from them? I don’t purchase products and services on the precondition that the person offering them thinks like I do. If that were the case, I’d be forced to have only Country CDs in my music collection. I’d very rarely be able to watch a good movie in a theater. I’d also never be able to buy a book written by Stephen King and a large number of other talented authors.

One could possibly write off the young man’s reaction to his idealistic youth, but as I was reminded just the other day that the audacity and betrayal of thinking differently doesn’t correlate with age.

Earlier this week, I was reading an on-line opinion piece for a local newspaper. The topic was Elliot Rodger’s murder spree in Santa Barbara. The piece absolutely excoriated the NRA, essentially blaming them and their battle against gun controls for helping Rodger do what he did. Several people commented on the column, agreeing with the author.

I found it interesting that the author and the commenters never once mentioned the fact that Rodger stabbed half of the victims he killed. So, I decided to leave a comment under the column, pointing this out and asking how the gun-control answer could have possibly stopped Rodger from killing people – especially his first three victims.

Well, one person in particular didn’t like what I wrote, and it happened to be a city manager I briefly met with when I signed up for that art fair back in October. She had bought a book from me at the time, so she remembered my name.

After an angry rant directed at me, she wrote, “I may have to return your book now. I thought you were smarter than that.

Translation: “You betrayed me by not living up to my default assumption that you were a liberal. If I had known the truth, I would have never purchased your book.”

It was an especially remarkable comment considering that this person is very involved and influential in our city’s art community. Art is supposed to be about free expression, after all. But apparently works of art are suddenly deemed unacceptable once the artist is discovered to be a conservative.
From a Dead Sleep by John A. Daly
I typically don’t offer Dear Abby-like advice in my columns, because I don’t presume that I’m qualified to give it. I will say, however, that I’m pretty confident that people could spare themselves a heck of a lot of personal drama and avoid looking foolish if they consider a couple of things…

1) Not everyone thinks the way you do.
2) Those who don’t think like you aren’t necessarily bad people.

As harsh as I often am when critiquing the liberal point of view and liberal policies, I’m proud to call several liberals close friends of mine. They accept a conservative-leaning guy like me for who I am as well.

I suppose I should consider that a beacon of hope in an increasingly hyper-partisan and divisive country.

Author Bio:

John Daly couldn't have cared less about world events and politics until the horrific 9/11 terrorist attacks changed his perspective. Since then, he's been deeply engaged in the news of the day with a particular interest in how that news is presented. Realizing the importance of the media in a free, democratic society, John has long felt compelled to identify media injustices when he sees them. With a B.S. in Business Administration (Computer Information Systems), and a 16 year background in software and web development, John has found that his real passion is for writing. He is the author of the Sean Coleman Thriller series, which is available through all major retailers. John lives in Northern Colorado with his wife and two children. Like John on Facebook. Follow John on Twitter.
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  • chuck.tatum

    After 30 years of adult dinner conversations with my liberal family on holidays you would think they would get past their shock of my conservatism.

    • John Daly

      Ridiculous, isn’t it? The bubble doesn’t pop easily.

  • Ron F

    And if liberals have anecdotal evidence of the opposite, is their viewpoint about conservatives just as valid? Why is it conservatives always see negative things in liberals and liberals tend to see the same negatives in conservatives?

    • John Daly

      >>And if liberals have anecdotal evidence of the opposite, is their viewpoint about conservatives just as valid?

      Sure. Why not?

      >>Why is it conservatives always see negative things in liberals and liberals tend to see the same negatives in conservatives?

      Different perspectives I suppose. Do the people you meet freak out when they find out you’re a liberal, Ron?

      • Ron F

        One I am not a liberal. Two liberals do not freak out when they find out I am a conservative. Some conservatives freak out because I may be too libertarian for them. But for the most part people do not care what my political beliefs are.

      • Ron F

        John, I was just wondering what I said that made you believe I am a liberal? I don’t think the fact that I do not believe anecdotal evidence is evidence of anything except that persons experience is a liberal view or that I find arguments and conclusions about the other side similar to be a liberal view. If it is, fine, I am a liberal.

        • John Daly

          >>John, I was just wondering what I said that made you believe I am a liberal?

          In this particular post? Not much. It’s what you’ve said in our previous exchanges… unless there are two Ron F’s.

          • Ron F

            There is only one Ron F but I still do not know what I have said that is liberal.

          • John Daly

            I suppose it’s because I’ve never heard anyone other than a liberal completely misrepresent Bush’s “Mission Accomplished” controversy – even going as far as to cite a speech he delivered to troops in Afghanistan that had nothing to do with Iraq.

            If I’m wrong about you, I stand corrected.

          • Ron F

            John, George Bush said that Mission Accomplish banner conveyed the wrong message and was a mistake. A Time Magazine article stated that the banner was hung by the White House. In addition, I never said the speech in Afghanistan had anything to do with Iraq but it was wrong. In 2003, we had not accomplished a mission to remove a grave threat and liberate an oppressed people.

          • John Daly

            >>John, George Bush said that Mission Accomplish banner conveyed the wrong message and was a mistake.

            I understand that, and I agree. It gave ammunition to his critics who decided to use it as a propaganda weapon against him. THAT’s why it was mistake. When presented out of context (which is what the Dems and the media were eager to do), it left bad optics. The banner was never a declaration of our troops winning the Iraq War. You however, insinuated in our previous exchange that it was. That’s a tactic I’ve seen used often by the left (with Keith Olbermann leading the pack). I’d never seen anyone on the right spread that b.s.

            >>I never said the speech in Afghanistan

            Are you honestly telling me that when you referenced “Mission Accomplished,” you weren’t talking about Iraq?

            “In 2003, we had not accomplished a mission to remove a grave threat and liberate an oppressed people.”

            In Afghanistan? We absolutely did. We had ousted the Taliban. A new government was put in place. Afghan girls were allowed to go to school. That’s what he was referring to.

          • Ron F

            Why are you questioning my honesty. I would never ask you if you were “honestly” saying something. I can honestly say I referred to both. And I do not think the mission was accomplished in Afghanistan in 2003. We are still there. Since 2003, we have had 2,215 military casualties in Afghanistan. In the first 3 years of the war we had 109. I have no idea how many military injuries we have had since 2003. Public education in Afghanistan has been our greatest success. The number of students in public education increasing by something like 250% (girls 6400%) in the 14 years we have been in the war. On the other hand I think Afghanistan’s share of the world’s opium trade has increased.

          • John Daly

            >>Why are you questioning my honesty.

            Because the “Mission Accomplished” mantra will forever be linked to that aircraft carrier banner and the Iraq War. No one ever talks of it in the context of a speech in Afghanistan that got little fanfare and had nothing to do with Iraq. Why would they? What Bush said made perfect sense.

            >>And I do not think the mission was accomplished in Afghanistan in 2003. We are still there.

            The Afghanistan of 2003 was much different than it is now. The Taliban had been removed from power, Al Qaeda – in its form back then – was pretty well decimated. Afghan citizens – especially women – had rights many of them had previously never had. Telling the troops back then that they did their job was something that no one would have questioned the accuracy of.

  • Brian Fr Langley

    Media, media , media? What surprises me is how many folks I talk with are generally (and genuinely) conservative leaning. As well, poll after poll indicates conservatives still outnumber socialists (liberals). Yet liberals still keep getting elected in majorities? So what gives? First the politics of division. Urban vs. rural, males vs. females, rich vs. poor, young vs. old, and whites vs. everybody. In riding after riding the media both national and (more importantly) local, will find some division to exploit against conservatives. They will portray them as either stupid, cruel, out of touch, or racist. BUT at the same time they will ignore the foibles of the liberal contender. And liberal supporters can say and believe anything, (stupid, racist or otherwise) that will simply be their personal position, BUT, if a conservative supporter says something stupid racist or otherwise, that will be irrefutable proof of the candidates position. The problem is of course not a free press. The problem is, while conservatives often call out liberal politicians for their fallacious comments, they continue to give a pass to the local (and National) media. Why? The main reason seems to be fear. Fear of their power to make things even worse. So instead of calling them out when they’re disingenuous, dissembling, or flat out lying, conservatives resort to a type of con. We’ll pretend to sort of agree with you, (the media) in the hope we’ll get at least part of our message out. The result? We come across wheedling and smarmy. (which is what they accuse us of in the first place). In this day of the internet the mainstream media no longer has a lock on information. If conservatives are going to win elections they are going to have to do battle on two fronts. Yes fight the liberal candidate and their utterly failed collectivist agenda, but also take the fight to their socialist comrades in the local (and national) media. DO NOT give them a pass, they won’t give you one.

    • John Daly

      I agree with everything you said there.

  • fiffles

    If you consider that many (most?) liberals believe that their political/moral/social beliefs are not merely opinions but hard facts that are unarguable, then you can get a notion of how they see conservatives as seriously misguided, if not sinners. To them it is as though we conservatives were arguing for a flat earth, or championing hatred among the diverse (now there’s a buzz word) peoples of the earth. Why would we be for dirty air or water since we have to breathe and drink too? Why would we seek to have our best and brightest–our sons and daughters too–sent half a world away to fight for no good reason? How could we fail to be suspicious of our sworn enemies? But we don’t buy into the leftist religiosity, so we must, prima facie, be in favor of all those things.

    • John Daly

      That’s a good point. I think a lot of people on the left view conservatives through a caricature.

  • Russ Smith

    I learn a lot from seeing how other folks think and reason within their criteria and the real betrayal is when they refuse to even have the conversation because they’re operating from the assumption that, in order for someone to hold a different point of view, they would either have to be stupid or deceived. That fails to recognize that every on of us have our own set of criteria by which we judge whether something makes sense.

    • John Daly

      Good point.

  • Adam

    Thought provoking, if not disheartening. Yet another illustration of the inverse relationship between liberal thought and the open embrace of new ideas.

    • John Daly

      Sad indeed.