Is America becoming more conservative or more liberal? That depends upon how you read the demographics. Four out of five Americans live in urban areas, (“Notes” The Week, August 17/24, 2018, pg. 16), and if your believe a report in the Washington Post, urban areas tend to vote liberal. Others suggest the country is already liberal, despite the rantings of TV personalities like Sean Hanity and Rush Limbaugh. The crowd they cater to is dwindling, white men and woman, mostly evangelicals, who “see themselves as losing their grip on the country amid rapid cultural and demographic change.” (“Talking Points,” The Week, August 17/24, 2018, pg. 17.)
Anxiety provides fertile ground for mischief, not the least of which are budding conspiracy theories. One conservative group called QAnon issues frequent warnings of imminent social danger. The purpose is to keep the base on its toes and loyal. Those of us who imagine ourselves sane might shudder at some of the stories they tell, especially those about our nation’s capital. Much of it has to do with alien invasions and depicting Donald Trump as the great white hope. Any criticism leveled against him they see as a plot to destroy the man and, therefore, the country. Since a good deal of Trump criticism comes from Democrats, true believers see the party as part of an evil empire. One QAnon member was so convinced Democrats were running a pedophile ring to fund their nefarious projects, he blocked off Hoover Damn, demanding the release of relevant documents. (Ibid, pg. 17.)
The charge might be plausible. After the ongoing pedophile scandals in the Catholic Church, I can entertain any possibility. But to be convinced, I need more than a whisper. I need evidence. Of course, that’s the beauty of conspiracy theories. They don’t require evidence, only someone’s willingness to believe. And while such theories may strike most of us as absurd, those who do believe are in numbers large enough to harm our democracy.
Is the country moving to the right or left, politically? I don’t know. I’m a centrist, myself. If the Golden Ratio is good enough for nature, I suspect we humans might benefit from being guided by it, too. I do admit conspiracy theories aren’t the sole province of conservatives. I’ve heard whoppers from the other side, liberals whose sanity I thought I could trust.
I submit we’re all a little crazy. So, what harm could it do to listen to one another? Listening doesn’t mean we agree with what’s being said, only that the speaker, if he or she isn’t promoting a riot, has the right to speak. Who knows? If we listen long enough, we might catch a peek of the person trembling behind the mask and come to a better understanding of him or her.