A Political Recipe for Unhappiness

I found this while recently reading David R. Dietrich’s Rebellious Conservatives: Social Movements in Defense of Privilege. 

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The central argument of Dietrich’s book is that conservative movements seek to restrict access to privileges. This is a defining characteristic of such movements.

Think of what that means–if your idea of success was defined by how effectively you limited other people’s access to good things. You’d have to always be on the lookout for people who were getting more than you think they deserve. You’d always have to be judging yourself against them. You’d have to be always thinking about the world as scarce rather than as rich. You’d have to be constantly judging other people, for “conservative movements seek to justify their reasons for excluding particularly groups by defining those with whom they do not want to share particular privileges as unworthy.” It’s a recipe for unhappiness.

This is why, as Helaine Olen wrote recently in the Washington Post, so many of our politicians look like stereotypical old men: “Instead of yelling at kids to get off their lawn or to turn down the music, they yell at women, immigrants, foreign leaders and anyone else who wants a place at the table.” To be fair, she cites examples from Republican and Democrats, but shrinking access to rights and privileges is an actual plank in the Republican platform. It wasn’t the Democrats, after all, who just won a Supreme Court case to rid voter rolls of registered voters.

If narrowing the doorway so that other people can’t walk through it is your goal, then you probably have a frustrating, angry, bad, sad life.

It might just kill you.


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