Saturday, February 28, 2009

Fear Hurts

Yukio Ngaby, author of the blog Critical Narrative, commented on my inaugural post:

Many Republicans are currently afraid to speak out, fearing that they will be called racist. They are not so much adverse to winning as overly adverse to losing-- which makes little difference in the outcome.

Ngaby makes a point containing several cogent truths. Many on the right are afraid of the social ostracism and derision likely to follow any public expression of their political beliefs. Not to mention potential employment repercussions (especially for those in the academic community). This fear has led to to a damaging condition amongst many conservatives, marked by an almost desperate search for approval and a nearly pathological yearning for acceptance from their liberal peers. The fear of demonization is only exacerbated on issues relating to race, and now that our President is a liberal* African-American, any loyal conservative opposition can potentially be framed in terms of racial conflict.

When Ngaby says that Republicans are "not so much adverse to winning as overly adverse to losing . . . ." he is absolutely right. There is no question that the fear of losing is often a debilitating mindset in and of itself. An apt analogy can be made to the risk of injury in athletics. From personal experience both playing and coaching youth athletics, it is fairly clear that the participants most likely to suffer from injuries are those who are scared of getting hurt. This is especially true in contact sports (and make no mistake about it, politics is a contact sport). When someone is scared of injury they move more tentatively and stiffly, shying away from contact, and often putting themselves in more vulnerable positions than if they were to face contact head on. When a person faces contact head on, he is braced for absorbing the blow and is better able to adjust in a more flexible and agile manner. The liberal media's frequent vitriolic assaults on conservatives have left many of them afraid of political and social injury and therefore wary of contact, leaving the Republican party vulnerable, inflexible, and off-balance.

I'm not so sure that a subconscious fear of winning is not also at play. I'm not doubting that most in the party wish to win their own political seat or appointment, but I'm not convinced they are completely devoted to helping conservatism win on a broad scale, or to wining through principled conservatism. Winning as a conservative is its own form of losing, as it brings an even greater risk of abuse by the left than losing. The media malpractice undertaken in attacking popular conservative politicians has truly become frightening. One must look no further than the vicious and dishonest assault on the most popular governor in the U.S., Alaska's Sarah Palin, upon being nominated to run for Vice-President. [Other notable examples include Ronald Reagan, Newt Gingrich, Karl Rove, Clarence Thomas, and President Bush. The more successful at achieving political victories, the more viscious the attacks.]

Like many athletes who suffer injuries, the most difficult rehabilitation involves overcoming the fear of re-injury. This mental hurdle is often shared by kids playing contact sports for the first time. The athlete must push the fear out of his mind or risk creating a self fulfilling prophesy of defeat or injury. During my time as a youth football coach it was necessary to convince the young players that contact could be enjoyable, and even losing physical collisions could be rewarding and beneficial to the team. It always made me proud to see a puny 7th grade runt, who had yet to hit his middle school growth spurt, take on an older and more physically developed player without a moment of hesitation. I only hope that the GOP can overcome their fear of contact and be willing to play the game with the reckless abandon and enuthisiasm necessary to win.

*I say liberal because it seems only criticism of liberal African-Americans is deemed racist. If you doubt this then please consider the treatment of prominent conservative blacks such as Clarence Thomas and Condoleeza Rice at the hands of the liberal political and media establishment.

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