This incorrect assumption is about the only sort of stereotyping people are still allowed to indulge in. Nobody would dare say something such as, “All blacks support Democratic presidential candidates.” Saying that would make one a “racist,” even though one could make a convincing case for such a statement. After all, two years ago 88 percent of blacks voted for John Kerry -- down slightly from the 90 percent who voted for Al Gore in 2000.
But it’s still all right to assume that all conservatives must believe in cutting down trees and filling in wetlands to build megachurches we will drive SUVs across pristine fields to attend. A conservative who doesn’t do these things is somehow suspect in the media.
In a May 3 story, The Washington Post profiled “Crunchy Conservatives,” a group of supposed heretics described in a book by conservative Dallas Morning News editor Rod Dreher.
“Do you shop organic, live closer in, recycle, hike ’n’ bike -- yet oppose things such as abortion and gay marriage, on deeply held, faith-based principles?” the Post asks. Tick off the right boxes and, presumably, you’re a “crunchy con.”
But there’s no relationship between the first four traits and the second two. Whether one rides a bike or drives an SUV has nothing to do with one’s position on abortion. For that matter, even the two traditionally conservative positions are unrelated. Some conservatives oppose abortion but are on board with gay marriage.
Even those who oppose both usually reached each position separately, on its own merits. One could (if presented with new evidence) change either opinion without changing the other. And one would remain a conservative. There’s no checklist where a conservative must get 10 out of 10 positions right to be welcome.
In fact, the real checklist is on the left. It’s liberals who tend to be closed-minded and doctrinaire. It’s easier to be a conservative who rides a bike to work and listens to Melissa Etheridge than it would be to be a liberal who refuses to recycle and listens to Lee Greenwood.