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The American Conservative Mindset

Posted on April 3, 2019 by Diana Roberts


 “Many conservatives start with a view of God that makes conservative ideology seem both natural and good. God is the ultimate strict father — all good and powerful, at the top of the natural hierarchy in which morality is linked with power. God wants good people to be in charge. Virtue is to be rewarded — with power. God therefore wants a hierarchal society in which there are moral authorities who should be obeyed in each domain: individual power, global power, financial power, social power.” 

(Lakoff, George. Don’t Think of an Elephant; Know Your Values and Frame the Debate, p.127. Chelsea Green Publishing. Vermont) 

It should be noted that the American conservative mindset, while it can be generous, is based in what can be termed a “Strict Father Morality” which applies to all domains listed above, is self-serving, and complements all versions of conservatism.  

“God makes the laws — commandments — defining right and wrong. One must discipline to follow God’s commandments. God is punitive: He punishes those who do not follow his commandments, and rewards those who do. Following God’s laws takes discipline. Those who are discipline enough to be moral are disciplined enough to become prosperous and powerful.  

“Christ, as savior, gives sinners a second chance — a chance to be born again and be obedient to God’s commandments this time around.” (id. @ 128.) 

Of note in the Bible, there is no mention of people outside of the small Mediterranean area where Jesus preached, those people around the world, who were not aware of Jesus or God’s laws. Nevertheless, the Gospel spread as fast as Paul could make it happen. 

The Moral Order. Traditional power relations are taken as defining a natural moral order: God above man, man above nature, adults above children, Western culture above non-Western culture, America above other nations. The moral order is all too often extended to men above women, whites above non-whites Christians above non-Christians, straights above gays.” 

Though there is no available data base, observation and experience would cause one to suspect that most conservatives grew up in a strict father morality environment of home and religiously based teachings, whether actually attending church or not. There was neither the perceived need to question nor the willing effort to dig into research to check the veracity of what you were being told. Changing what you have always accepted and believed as a life opinion and model is quite difficult in adulthood. It is psychologically challenging and most uncomfortable for anyone. 

It is important to understand the American Conservative Mindset in any discussion that has evidence of the other person or entity having a major conservative philosophy. It will be bent towards individual power, global power, financial power, social power, and indeed Christian superiority. 



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