No, it’s because when deciding between the carrot or the stick, conservatives will choose the stick every time. And not just for themselves, but for you and me as well. It’s stick stick stick nonstop.
For example, progressives have begged conservatives for months now to get the vaccine, appealing to their sense of reason, patriotism, and compassion for others. We have offered them money, nodded respectfully when they spewed conspiratorial nonsense, and presented heart-wrenching stories of right-wingers on their death beds who regretted their anti-vax stance (and there have been a lot of those guys).
Their response has been to scream in our faces, move the goal posts yet again, and chug horse medicine.
The message is clear: Being nice to conservatives doesn’t work.
So now vaccine mandates and mask requirements will kick in. Health insurers will demand that anti-vaxxers pay more. Private companies will fire people who refuse to get vaccinated. America is throwing away the carrot and bringing out the stick.
Now, all of these punishments could have been avoided if conservatives—who want all the benefits but none of the responsibilities of living in a society—would have just done the right thing of their own volition.
But of course, that was never going to happen.
You see, conservatives have made it obvious that they will do nothing for the benefit of others unless you make them. To some degree, this is true of all of us, in that incentives are built right into human psychology and political systems.
But while the liberal mindset often attempts to balance individual wants with societal needs, the right-winger is actively hostile to anything that infringes on “personal freedom.” Talk to a Republican, and you’ll hear that he is “over the whole ‘society’ thing.” This is the natural consequence of decades of Ayn Rand gibberish combined with racial animus, cultural privilege, and Republican victimhood.
Beyond philosophical differences, however, there is the fact that conservatives, by their own admission, have a deeply pessimistic view of humanity and think the worst of people. Members of the GOP have proclaimed that “the difference between Republicans and Democrats is that Republicans believe people are fundamentally bad, while Democrats see people as fundamentally good.”
Oddly, Republicans view corporations as fundamentally great, but that’s another story.
We already know that conservatives are more fearful, more squeamish, and more focused on winning at all costs. These factors influence their contempt for “bleeding hearts” and their frequently sociopathic disdain for human suffering.
But another central tenet of conservatism is that “human beings are essentially selfish, greedy, competitive, individualistic, and generally unpleasant.” This perception influences much of their political agenda, explaining why they need guns, heavily armed cops, and a huge military complex to feel safe from those rampaging “others”—usually foreigners, immigrants, and ethnic minorities. It explains why they hate government assistance to the needy, who are clearly lazy sponges leeching off their hard work. It explains why they’re obsessed with appearing tough, because people will crush you if you don’t smash them first.
Of course, commentators have pointed out that, statistically, conservatives give more to charity. But many experts believe that much of this generosity goes to White conservative churches where it can help other White conservatives. And let’s face it, the drive to appease an angry god motivates a lot of that tithing. Conservatives have to be threatened with smiting to donate their cash.
Basically right-wingers can’t imagine just doing something for the common good, because people are jerks and don’t deserve it. Also, conservatives know that they have to be forced to rein in their worst impulses, so they assume that’s true of everybody. They insist that you have to hit people to make them comply, or you have anarchy. And if that means cutting off food for hungry children or treating the unemployed like dogs, well, that’s too bad, you wimpy liberal.
But are they correct? Should we always keep the whip poised over humanity? Should we presume that people are nothing but bastards, and that they will tear out each other’s throats if given half a chance?
Well, let’s look at one case study.
You may have heard of a little hurricane named Katrina which swamped New Orleans 16 years ago. During the storm and its aftermath, many people definitely behaved badly, as we all know. But an analysis a decade later revealed that “misinformation during Hurricane Katrina over how lawless New Orleans had become made the situation far worse.”
For example, school bus drivers refused to head into New Orleans to help the evacuation because they believed it was too dangerous. And rather than devote resources to rescue operations, the government prioritized shooting looters on sight. In fact, the “fear of looting prompted local officials to overreact” and “led to the formation of quasi-militia groups, primarily made up of White residents” that failed to protect anyone and actually provoked “racially motivated violence.”
In reality, most of the people stuck in New Orleans simply wanted to survive, with many of them taking heroic efforts to help their neighbors. But the assumption, from the Bush Administration to the conservative Democratic state leadership, was that Black people were raping and murdering at will. So the tragedy was compounded, and help was delayed, all to prevent the massive rioting that never occurred.
And that relates to today, where another crippling wave of the virus engulfs America, largely because Republicans have defaulted to distrust, fear, and contempt, mixed with total indifference about whether their fellow citizens live or die.
So now conservatives are being punished for their antisocial behavior. We have to force them to refrain from killing the rest of us, and it’s going to have to hurt.
Conservatives have demanded, and they are finally receiving, the stick.