Getting a Progressive to “yes” on conservative ideas

Flowers in the desert
Planting seeds in the Progressive desert.

I spent some time talking to an incredibly nice, helpful, genuinely kind hard-Leftist who has dreams of a President Bernie Sanders. The wisdom of years has taught me that one makes no headway with someone like this by saying “Are you out of your cotton-pickin’ mind?” I’d barely have finished my first sentence about the inevitable evils of true socialism before she would have raised her defenses and either tuned me out or attacked me — and really, I would have deserved it if I’d been that disrespectful and superficial.

What I tried to do was to work with her to get her to re-think her favored shibboleths while manifestly respecting her very real intelligence. I always hope that these efforts are like dropping wild flower seeds on an apparently barren desert. It seems like a wasted effort until the first rainfall….

I actually think I made a little progress with this Progressive, because I got her to agree with all of these core principles:

1. In the last two hundred years, Christianity, whether real or just a cultural myth, has been a force for good.  After all, it’s been responsible for everything from ending slavery to the impetus behind the 40 hour work week to the Civil Rights movement.

2. Passive resistance, a la Gandhi or Martin Luther King, works only if you’re fighting a fundamentally moral enemy that can be shamed by its own bad behavior.

3. When people are trapped under a tyrannical regime, they will invariably die at the regime’s hands, with women and children leading the way to the gas chambers. If that regime is also a threat to you, and you’ve already established that the regime’s citizens will inevitably die, it’s more humane to go in with guns blazing, killing many, but saving most.  It’s better to have a hundred thousand die in a decisive war, than have a million die through tyranny’s brutal control.  And as I pointed out to her, having “a million” die under a dictator’s less-than-tender care, is a low number.  The real numbers are about 50 million under Mao, 35 million or so under Stalin, 10 million or more under Hitler (including 6 million Jews), a third of the population under Pol Pot, etc.  A swift, determinative war would have been kinder.

4. People who are laboring under appalling tyranny will accept the risk of death at the hands of an outside force that they believe can rescue them from that tyranny.  We’ve seen that with Nazi slave laborers who did whatever they could to get allies to bomb the factories in which they labored or as is currently the case with today’s ISIS sex slaves who dream of a military attack against the camps and compounds in which they’re held.

5. Barack Obama is hopelessly naive to the extent he believes that he can change Iran’s behavior by rewarding it for its past bad acts.

6. Today’s militant Islam is a malevolent combination of the Sunni’s fanaticism that infected the Shia sect, and the Shia’s apocalyptic fervor that infected the Sunni sect. The Saudis funded the spread of Islam and the Iranians weaponized it, resulting in a medieval ISIS and an almost-nuclear Iran.

7. ISIS’s foot soldiers have fallen so far into animalistic savagery that they cannot be saved but must be exterminated, even if that means that the innocent will die too (see points 3 and 4, above.)

8. Obama is no better than any other politician.

9. Be deeply suspicious of any fabulously wealthy politician who pretends to be one of the little people, a vice peculiar to politicians on the Left. Better an honest rich candidate who promises, through his understanding of political and economic systems, to raise you up there too, than a dishonest rich candidate who pretends to have no wealth and refuses to share his path to wealth with you.

10. Fabulously rich politicians who gained wealth while in the political field (as opposed to people like Romney, who earned his wealth before politics) have been bought and paid for in exchange for political influence.

11. Hillary’s email scandal doesn’t just go to her honesty. Because of the spectacularly high likelihood that she’s been hacked and that her private correspondence is in the hands of those who don’t wish America well, she is peculiarly vulnerable to blackmail. This blackmail can cut in any direction. It might be Saudi Arabia demanding that Hillary start reining in American women; or a Russian oligarch demanding that we turn over Eastern Europe; or a fundamentalist Christian demanding that all gays be barred from positions in the administration; or any other of a hundred or thousand scenarios. It’s enough to know that Hillary carelessly made herself open to the risk.  If she enters the White House, God alone knows who or what she’ll have trailing invisibly in her wake.

I think the above is a good day’s work for a very civil conversation, and one that saw me frequently agree with the charming lady to whom I spoke.  I’m sure that she won’t be able to repeat or even remember most of what I got her to acknowledge is true, but I’m hopeful that when political rain falls, some of those seeds will flower.