One for the Stocking

Friday, December 03, 2010

Yesterday, I took a gander at a book I saw recommended by an HBLer and liked what I saw. Its title? I Can't Believe I'm Sitting Next to a Republican: A Survival Guide for Conservatives Marooned Among the Angry, Smug, and Terminally Self-Righteous.

Although it isn't accurate to call me a conservative, I might as well be one for the purposes of this book. For one thing, my political views, particularly on economic matters and national defense, certainly make me stick out like a sore thumb among leftists when I choose to express them in such company.

And then there's the whole matter of living a "double life" among people one disagrees with as a matter of daily survival. (This I have also experienced among religious conservatives, particularly in college.) I am pretty sure, though, that I am more prone to express dissent than many conservatives since: (1) Saying nothing can sometimes too easily look like acquiescence; (2) I am interested in ultimately changing the state of affairs depicted in the book; and (3) Unlike many conservatives, I have confidence that the right ideas, if aired often enough and effectively enough, can eventually cause such a change.

That said, here is an excerpt from the introduction.

While ... most every conservative getting by in the alien environment of Blue State America is blessed with independent judgment and a fair amount of backbone, a working sense of humor doesn't hurt, either. How else to deal with the stuff that at any time can put a crimp in an otherwise fine day -- the angry old lady with the anti-war sign affixed to her walker, the PETA zealots from the nearby campus, or the random leftist idiot at a dinner party, waxing self-righteous and quoting George Soros?


The fact is, in key ways, those of us living and working among such people often know them better than they know themselves. Unable as we are to avoid the media they take as gospel -- NPR, the networks, The New York Times or its local equivalent -- we're on intimate terms with their most passionately held beliefs and convictions. We know who they admire and who they despise; we know in advance how they'll react to every controversy, every utterance by a public figure; we anticipate, politically and public policy-wise, their sighs, their frowns, their ups, their downs.
If you would like more, there is a sizable-enough sample of the book to get a good feel for its style and content at Amazon.

What I think the book can provide in some measure is the relief of knowing that, despite what can sometimes seem like orchestrated efforts to make it appear that way, one really isn't alone in having to navigate daily the bizarre cultural milieu of Blue America. Other independent people, too, experience life among second-handers who pay lip-service to such "liberal" ideals as independent judgment and freedom of speech -- and yet seem oblivious to the fact that any number of Toohey-esque figures are in fact goading them in the opposite direction. Despite an occasional whiff of conservative defeatism -- Harry Stein bemoans the failure of an earlier book about his ideological graduation from the left to gain converts -- I look forward to the feeling of camaraderie that this collection of war stories promises.

Well, Mrs. Van Horn was looking for gift ideas...

-- CAV


Jim said...

C-SPAN interview with author about the book:

C-SPAN video:

Gus Van Horn said...


Thanks for those links.

I'll note that for anyone pressed for time, the CNN link has an interesting transcript feature that allows one to skim through the interview, then pick up at any quote of interest.