Mother Jones has published yet another hit piece on conservatives. The story is merely a reference to work being performed by John Hibbing, a political scientist at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Hibbing has created a machine that theoretically has the ability to determine whether you are a conservative or a liberal.
Mother Jones seems to go out of their way throughout the story to highlight this conclusion put forth by Hibbing.
It all adds up, according to Hibbing, to what he calls a “negativity bias” on the right. Conservatives, Hibbing’s research suggests, go through the world more attentive to negative, threatening, and disgusting stimuli—and then they adopt tough, defensive and aversive ideologies to match that perceived reality.
Yes, we conservatives are little more than a negative lot. We go through life seeking the downside to whatever is put in front of us. The question is, do the results of Hibbing’s research surprise anyone? Clearly, conservatives and liberals have vastly different ideologies. Combining our makeup derived from our psychology, biology, and politics may or may not be the best way to approach determining our ideology, but what really is the goal here? Is it to unlock the key to the Holy Grail, that being a clear methodology to convert an ideological opposite to your way of thinking?
Thomas Jefferson correctly pointed out that our ideological differences have always been there. However, is it conservatives and liberals that differ as Hibbing proposes? Our current versions of the Whigs and Tories are hardly separated by ideology. Both republicans and democrats continue to advance big government and government dependency as a way of life. Today’s liberals have completely reversed ideology since the 1960’s when they despised big government.
Political ideology is hardly the best format for identifying differences amongst us as politics are guided by a diversity of influences, many of which are driven by current events. Current events which may demand a response based upon practicality rather than ideology. Simply look at politicians who pick and choose their battles realizing they can’t win every one. Winning the war is the goal however, so taking a step back here and there may be required to keep advancing the cause.
Fact is that each and every one us started out in life as entirely dependent upon others to survive. The human race is the most susceptible of all species on the planet when we are born. We wouldn’t survive a day without human intervention. Those that carry that need for collectivism throughout their life could say they were born that way but the argument is hollow as we all were. Professor Hibbing attempts to tie our biology into our politics, but we are clearly a reflection of our surroundings and our influences. To say that everyone fits into a model of conservative or liberal ideology is folly. Some never even develop what can be construed as an ideology throughout their entire life.
So the good Professor may well be able to track a set of metrics that indeed do reflect what is considered conservative or liberal ideology as it exists today. The problem is that definition is a changing dynamic and may not apply a few years from now.
As far as conservatives being portrayed as negative leaners, that is just a viewpoint. Conserving one’s values and protecting those values from threats may well be considered a positive. Looking for aversive images and extending one’s gaze may appear to some as seeking a negative, but to others it may be considered as simply being proactive.
The bottom line is this entire thought process leads into the progressive agenda. If you’re not accepting and modifying your views and values to incorporate all opposing views and values, then you become the intolerant one. The tie-in is always made to show a conservative ideology as being one of negativity and intolerance. So it’s really no wonder at all that Mother Jones would highlight this ideological determining machine as being progressive.