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Attitude Problem

So, I walked into my favorite Starbucks, eyed that gorgeous, doe-eyed barista, and ordered my venti mocha.

Then I was surprised at first and increasingly vexed thereafter by the following quote displayed on my cup and attributed to erstwhile conservative icon George F. Will:

Because true conservatives are pessimists, they are happier than liberals, for three reasons. First, pessimists are rarely surprised. Second, when they are wrong they are delighted to be so. Third, pessimists do not put their faith in princes - in government. They understand that happiness is a function of fending for oneself. Happiness is an activity; it is inseparable from the pursuit of happiness.

Oh, brother.

Memo to George F. Will:

True conservatives are not pessimists. To the contrary a true conservative is by definition an optimist.

True conservatives endeavor to anticipate all contingencies, negative and positive, but they're not surprised when things go exactly as planned. Obtaining the desired and planned-for outcome is the very standard a true conservative will set for him or herself and the standard to which they hold their peers.

True conservatives are pragmatic. They're neither Pollyannas nor brooding malcontents. They're realists. Not vacuous idealists.

Realism and pessimism, however, are *not* the same things.

True conservatives are not 'delighted' to be wrong. That's patently idiotic.

Quite unlike their friends on the far left a true conservative is by definition a sentient, rational, logical adult. To be wrong is no cause for celebration, Chomsky.

Happiness is not an 'activity.' Activities are activities; happiness is an emotional state of mind.

To collapse the dichotomy between activities and emotions is to engage in precisely the sort of relativism of which leftists are guilty.

Furthermore, pessimism never spawned a single technological advancement. Pessimism doesn't put food on anyone's table. Pessimism won't solve the country's many problems. Pessimism won't cure a single disease.

Pessimism is the hobglobin of mental suicide.

Pessimism . . . doesn't . . . win . . . elections.

Comments (12)

Nope, I think you are compl... (Below threshold)

Nope, I think you are completely wrong about Will's quote.

Conservatives are 'pessimistic' because they do not buy into this crap that all people are intrinsically good, and that we only need to arrange society under Big Brother's tender watchful eye to bring that out in everybody.

Pessimism means trusting yourself, not placing your trust in others to take care of you, because a pessimist knows that such arrangements often come unravelled.

I don't even consider myself a pessimist, but I would be *delighted* to discover that a government program, for example, actually works while under budget and without unintended consequences.

The government has given me little cause for optimism on this point thus far, however.

Yet a person has to be opti... (Below threshold)

Yet a person has to be optimistic, too. Yes, people are not intrinsically good, but they don't *have* to be for families or communities or societies to function quite well. True, perfection is not possible, but perfection isn't necessary.

Being optimistic about outcomes is easier, really, when a person understands that government is inherently evil and people inherently base because those conditions exist always and yet we get along pretty darn well.

Someone who starts out from assumptions that government can solve our problems and people can be "good" will believe that a wrong law or wrong winner of an election or wrong behavior of a participant will be devastating to the whole of it. It ends up either with a recognized desire to control the entire process or a defeatist attitude because mistakes are always dreadful and problems must mean ultimate failure.

So if one set of people (I won't say conservatives because it really isn't the same set) seems to be pessimistic in their beginning assumptions they are ultimately optimistic, even idealistic, in their outlook and beliefs. All is not lost. A set back is merely a challenge. People should be expected to act like people act and it is not a disaster.

If there is a set of people who begin with what might seem an optimistic outlook, that people can be good, that government can solve our problems, they do seem to favor solutions that count on this belief, it quickly becomes pessimism as we've seen. Any failure is a horror. The world is going to hell. People can't be base or selfish or just plain *wrong* without toppling the whole darned thing.

In a way it's sort of like the fad of "dysfunctional" families some years back. Oh, that was the biggest thing! And it amounted to, whatever wasn't perfect was "dysfunctional". Rather than muddle along in our imperfect human ways trusting that humans are resilient enough to deal with a great deal of imperfection in each other, families became brittle things, unable to resist the inevitability of dysfunction if they happened not to achieve that perfection.

"To the contrary a true con... (Below threshold)

"To the contrary a true conservative is by definition an optimist." -- Jayson

Ah, come on, Jayson, what do you conservatives have to be optimistic about??? Look around you, and look at human history. Has humanity through the decades, through the centuries, through the millennia become more conservative??? Or has it instead become more liberal?? Heck, look and see what shows are on your television before answering.

What do you conservatives stand for, if not opposition to change? Yet the world is constantly changing, isn't it, Jayson?? Tough luck for you that all you can do is slow human progress down; you can't stop it.

You conservatives don't believe that government should help anyone, yet government grows over the decades and centuries. Indeed, some of the liberal programs (e.g., Social Security) have become so ingrained that you conservatives merely accept them without question. It's not just FDR, when someone like Carter established the Department of Education and the Department of Energy he faced conservative opposition, but no meaningful conservative opposition to these departments exists nowadays. Heck, it's even you conservatives who come up with liberal programs yourselves (e.g., No Child Left Behind).

Many conservatives look around and see their religion slowly dying off. Your Christianity is practically dead in Western Europe. Of course, too, much of the world's citizens (indeed, likely most) live in areas where abortion is legal (remember it's legal in both China and India). It was you Republicans who made abortion legal in the U.S., a strong majority of those justices who established Roe v. Wade were appointed by Republican presidents, and a majority of those justices who have upheld Roe v. Wade were also appointed by Republicans. And heck, abortion recently became legal in Mexico City, making inroads into Latin America. Gay marriage is becoming legal in more places, including Canada, and New Hampshire just made civil unions legal. Wasn't it around Fresno, California, Jayson, where a transgendered male became his high school's homecoming queen?

But it isn't just your homophobia that's having a rough time, xenophobia doesn't seem to be doing so well either. Damn, it was your beloved Saint Ronnie who two decades ago gave illegal immigrants amnesty, wasn't it??? And now another amnesty bill is on its way through Congress. I don't foresee all those migrants in the United States without authorization getting deported anytime soon, do you, conservatives?

Jayson writes: "Quite unlike their friends on the far left a true conservative is by definition a sentient, rational, logical adult."

But Jayson, how is it "logical" to be optimistic, when you really don't have much to be optimistic about? Well, let's just say your logic matches that of George W. Bush. It's not, say, at the Einstein level. Tell you what, Jayson. I'll side with Albert Einstein (one of our "friends of the far left") in support of liberalism, and you can side with The Chimp in support of, well, you fill in the rest.

"To collapse the dichotomy ... (Below threshold)

"To collapse the dichotomy between activities"

Yeah, that's the little "reasoning" trick they use.

The universe may be infinitely relative, but we are not. We are stuck riding on a bowl of neurons bound into a space time cage. We have no method of removing our conscience from that cage and still live in corporal form.

Delocalize all power away from the individual and the conscience gets delocalized along with it. Where the conscience goes, I don't know. The bodies are usually placed in mass graves.

God, Herman, you're an ass.... (Below threshold)

God, Herman, you're an ass.

Conservatism, at the moment, is conserving the classical liberalism that you all have abandoned in a bid to go on to the next great thing.

Which in this case seems to be a multicultural relativism steeped in defeatism. Feminism has abandoned it's fight against aggressive paternalism. Liberals have abandoned the fight for the notion of universal human value.

It's only left to those resisting change to hang on to what was good and important about classical liberalism because "progressives" aren't interested any more.

And curiously, for those who supposedly believe in change the progressives seem utterly intent on the doctrine that culture determines all, that not only is it wrong to expect a culture to change... it can't.

We're left with conservatives hanging on to the notion that all human beings have inherent rights to life and liberty. All of them. Not just those that already have it.

Being an optimist, however,... (Below threshold)

Being an optimist, however, I realize that attitudes will change and the "progressives" will come around to right again about the time "conservatives" are busy conserving multiculturalism steeped in defeatism.

"Conservatism, at the momen... (Below threshold)

"Conservatism, at the moment, is conserving the classical liberalism that you all have abandoned in a bid to go on to the next great thing."

Amen, Synova. Herman is never going to quite get this, however, because he's too busy trying to talk conservatives into how uh-depressed they should be. He can only hope that conservative optimists will lose their hope. He need not hold his breath.

Actually, if you think abou... (Below threshold)

Actually, if you think about it the true "pro-choice" party are the Republicans and Conservatives. I know very few conservatives that like Social Security. Most of us would like to be able to have the CHOICE to invest our own money how we wish. Most conservatives dislike the Dept of Education. We would like to have the CHOICE to send our kids to any school we want, whether it be private, public, charter, or home schooled. In the abortion debate, we would like to be able to CHOOSE to have the baby, or put the baby up for adoption.

Let's look at the ANTI-CHOICE party. Social Security is absolute. There is no problem. We can just raise payroll taxes, raise the ceiling of who has to enroll, and raise the age of the person wanting to collect. They do not want to let parents have a choice to send their kids to anything but public school. Only the rich can have that choice not the poor or middle class. finally PRO-CHOICE to abortionists means the ability to choose an abortion, not the ability to choose any other result.

Why do they take these positions? The Left and Democrats have controlled the public school systems for years. Social Security allows the government to control our money for retirement. By controlling two of the largest lobbying groups; teachers and seniors they can control how we think and how we live.

In the abortion debate, ... (Below threshold)

In the abortion debate, we would like to be able to CHOOSE to have the baby, or put the baby up for adoption.... finally PRO-CHOICE to abortionists means the ability to choose an abortion, not the ability to choose any other result.

What is that, from The Onion?

Wow, jd, that 8:38 post is ... (Below threshold)

Wow, jd, that 8:38 post is heavvvy. Do suppose Herman understands?

I like to spell the word 'proggrressive' and ask that those identified as such say it with a growl on their faces so that their intentions are clear.

Just exactly where do expect us to progress, poor unhappy imperfect human, herman, and how?

I think Will was trying to ... (Below threshold)

I think Will was trying to be cute and didn't quite accomplish it.

Here's the column the quote is from, and here's the fact that prompted the column:

A survey by the Pew Research Center shows that conservatives are happier than liberals -- in all income groups.

And you know Starbucks is not going to cherry pick that particular quote!

"A survey by the Pew Resear... (Below threshold)

"A survey by the Pew Research Center shows that conservatives are happier than liberals -- in all income groups. While 34 percent of all Americans call themselves "very happy," only 28 percent of liberal Democrats (and 31 percent of moderate or conservative Democrats) do, compared with 47 percent of conservative Republicans."

"This finding is niftily self-reinforcing: It depresses liberals."







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