Friday, August 05, 2005

Conservative Diversity

Jim Lindgren writes:
This is another example that very well educated conservatives rarely fit the public stereotypes assigned to them. While very high educations tend to make liberals more consistently liberal, very high educations tend to make conservatives less consistently conservative (and thus less extreme) on social issues. For this reason, those presidential nominees targeted as "outside the mainstream" are very probably not extreme at all. While they would be likely to be conservative on some issues, on some other issues they would be likely to take the liberal side of things.

This is a bit like highly educated bloggers: while supposedly "conservative" bloggers might support Bush's court nomineees and the War on Terror, such "conservatives" often take the liberal side on some issues, such as perhaps abortion rights, gay rights, assisted suicide, and stem-cell research, and they might also believe in evolution, oppose mandatory school prayer, or favor the right to burn flags. Such a diversity of views among the highly educated left is much more rare.

This is altogether odd (something I find on Volokh occasionally). You can read this in two ways.
  1. Conservative elites have more diversity in opinion and are thus more open and altogether better than liberal elites.
  2. As conservatives become more educated, they tend to hold more liberal views on cultural issues. Thus, being more educated and knowing more makes you take the liberal position. This means that the liberal view is "correct," insofar as education is edifying (in the correct sense of morally uplifting).
While the first is what he wants us to conclude, the second seems far more likely (though they aren't mutually exclusive, but endorsing diversity for diversity's sake seems so...multicultural and thus so unconservative, positively Millian). The thing is, it's not really a virtue to have disagreements on abortion rights or gay rights. Those things ought not to be subject to debate. To gaze in awe at a conservative establishment that can't come down on one side of the debate seems...odd. Plus, the fact that it is "more educated" conservatives who undergo this conversion says, well, something about what it means to be conservative....At least if we are to take Lindgren seriously.

Update: Althouse phrases it much more succinctly:
Lindgren phrases his observation in terms of the right being more diverse than the left. But another way to put it is to say that the highly educated usually reject social conservatism. The position on national security is then arrived at as a separate matter.

2 Comments:

Blogger David Schraub said...

Expect your hits to go up ;-)

That's all I'm saying.

9:18 PM  
Blogger David Schraub said...

...okay, so I may have overestimated the value of a TMV link. Sorry.

12:55 AM  

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