One of the right’s biggest weaknesses is the fear of sex. If you have the stomach to read right-wing literature, there are countless prohibitions against sex before marriage and sex outside the marriage bed. A lot of these scruples are based on fear; many right-wing fundamentalists are even more afraid of sex than they are of an axe-murderer breaking into their house at night and killing them.
The right’s fear of sex and the fear of being vulnerable go hand in hand. And they are both part of the fear of the unknown. Conservatism is inherently an ideology of fear of the unknown, while Liberalism embraces the unknown as an adventure.
Why else do you see so many right-wingers screaming bloody murder when a questionable book is being sold in their community? Because they think the reader might get corrupted and learn about how to make sex pleasurable.
Why else do you see so many right-wingers complaining about abortion? Because they want to make it as hard as possible to escape the consequences of sex. Same with the denial of birth control.
Why else do you see so many right-wingers complaining about <gulp> “the gay agenda?” Because they don’t want to deal with the possibility that they might be gay themselves.
Some right-wing fundamentalists even go so far as to prohibit the practice of masturbation, even though it is a biological reaction which you can’t avoid; you will do it on your own sooner or later if you don’t do it voluntarilly. Are the right-wing fundamentalists therefore revolting against God, who made us that way?
When you engage in the act of sex with your partner, you become extremely vulnerable to them. They know stuff that can hurt you for the rest of your life. Even the ancient Biblical writers knew that; when talking about the act of sex, they state that a man “knew” his wife and had children.
This fear of becoming vulnerable, of changing as a result, is the inherent flaw of Conservatism itself. It is also at the heart of the Bush administration’s committment to secrecy and demands that everybody else just trust them and get back to their lives.
After the 9/11 attacks, Bush, almost hysterically, pleaded with people to get back to shopping. The implication was that people should just trust the President and let him do the work. Bush declared that either you were with him or against him. This implied that people who questioned the President were somehow being unpatriotic.
When Joe Wilson debunked the Niger-to-Iraq Uranium connection, that triggered panic within the Bush administration because they had been exposed and made vulnerable. That is why Karl Rove was willing to committ treason to restore the cloak of secrecy around the Bush administration.
You can see this fear of vulnerability in Bush’s Iraq War speech of a month ago. He declared that he talked with the military commanders on the ground every day and that based on those reports, we were doing fine in Iraq. But given the Joe Wilson scandal, I suggest that the commanders are simply telling the President what he wants to hear; if they don’t, their careers could be ruined.
You can also see this fear of vulnerability in the President’s refusal to hand over the documents on the Bolton nomination that the Democrats want. After all, what kind of scandals that we haven’t heard of are hidden in the pages of those documents?
This fear of vulnerability and the fear of sex that I described in the beginning go hand in hand. A person who hides stuff from you is likely to be afraid of sex and vice versa. And both fears are part of a larger fear of the unknown that is at the heart of Conservative thought. It is a fact of human nature that many people are more comfortable with what they are familiar with, even if they don’t like it, than they are with something they don’t know anything about.
The fear of the unknown is what prompted the scuttling of the Equal Rights Amendment. Opponents freaked out at the thought that women could register for the draft and be drafted into the military.
This fear of the unknown is what causes people to oppose a national health care system. Everyone and their dog knows the system is broke; however, many people are even more afraid of the unknown ramifications of a national health care system than they are of the current one, even though it is broken.
And this fear of the unknown was what led Edgar Ray Killen to organize a conspiracy to murder the three civil rights activists. Southern politicians were moaning and complaining throughout the 1960’s about how well things were in the South until all these civil rights agitatiors came and screwed things up. People were afraid of what it was like to live next to a Black family, so they kept them at a safe distance.
So, throughout its history, Conservatism has been a gospel of fear. On the other hand, Liberalism has been a gospel of change and adventure. It embraces the unknown as a fact of life.
While the Hoover administration was fearful that drastic changes would only make things worse, Liberalism, under FDR, brought us the New Deal, Social Security, and many other programs which made life better for us all.
While the Old South was afraid that the Civil Rights Movement would destroy their cherished way of life, the Left embraced the notion that Blacks were citizens just like Whites were.
While the Johnson administration sold out to the right and went to war in Vietnam, the Left and the Hippie movement showed us that there were other ways besides wars to solve problems.
While the Nixon administration was willing to smear, lie, and destroy the careers of people to protect its power, the Left brought down the Nixon administration in the Watergate scandal.
While the Reagan administration was illegally selling arms to Iran and diverting the proceeds to the contras, with a little help from John Roberts, the Left aggressively held hearings to get to the bottom of the matter, resulting in the defeat of the Bush I administration in 1992.
Against the advice of all his fellow Democrats, John Kerry investigated and brought down the Bank of Commerce and Credit, International. This act of heroism by Kerry delayed the rise of Bin Laden by several years by drying up one of his main funding sources.
And today, the Left is exposing the massive corruption that the Bush administration is engaged in, including the 2000 and 2004 elections, the lead-up to the Iraq War, the Tom DeLay scandal, and the torture scandals.
We are now at a crossroads of our journey. We can either embrace change and rise to new heights, or refuse to change and diminish. We can embrace alternative fuels and the Kyoto Accords and reduce the threat of global warming, or continue making more and more gas-guzzling cars and go back to the days of the horse and buggy in 10-30 years.
We can embrace change and define health care as a basic human right, or we can continue the way we are as even simple visits to the doctor become too expensive.
We can embrace change and work to create a society in which all people, including GLBT’s, Blacks, Hispanics, Women, and Immigrants are truly equal, or continue to polarize relations between the races.
We can embrace change and quit using wars as a way to solve problems, or continue the way we are and risk a nuclear holocaust.
We can embrace change, tie our support for Israel to its human rights performance, and treat the Palestinians as equals, or go the way we are and continue to inflame the opinions of Muslims everywhere.
Liberalism is the philosophy of adventure and change, where we seek to create a society where if everyone works hard and plays by the rules, they will be financially secure. Conservatism is the philosophy of fear. In the next two elections, our country will hit a crossroads in which they will choose their future. We must work to ensure that the people choose wisely.