The Plight Of The Modern-Day Conservative: Always Defending The ‘New’ Status Quo

Chris Mooney, the author of The Republican Brain, said the following in a recent episode of Up with Chris Hayes on MSNBC:

This is the nature of left and right when you think about it. The next generation of conservatives are gonna be fine with same-sex marriage. Conservatism is best defined as resistance to change. Once there’s a new status quo then you defend that one, and so you see that with civil rights, you see it with women’s rights, you saw it with interracial marriage. You always gotta drag some people a little bit.

Mooney’s comment is indeed a generalization – so too is the title of this article – but there is a lot of truth to it as well. After all, younger conservatives are much more likely to support same-sex marriage. This is true across the board, but it’s more striking when isolating on just conservatives. Conservatives were once against the expansion of rights for various groups but modern-day conservatives are accepting of the past expansion of women’s rights, minority rights, etc. because these rights are now considered status quo.

There are right-wing extremists who would like to turn back the clock but most non-extreme, modern-day conservatives tend to support status quo, but these same modern-day conservatives are likely to challenge continued efforts to expand rights. Fear of change is the most basic way to explain it. It’s a fear of the unknown and a fear that expanding certain rights will lead to a slippery slope of unwelcome social changes.

If liberals and progressives are successful when it comes to building a more perfect union with equal rights for all, conservatives decades from now will be defending that new status quo.


photo by Social_Stratification


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