Liberals believe that individuals can do little and that solving the problem requires changing the systems. Whereas conservatives believe that to solve the problems even in the systems means changing the people who are caught up in them.
Last week we had a post about how some on the right and some on the left are showing some agreement when it comes to issues of war, donor protection, and political correctness. But obviously there are big differences between those two factions, and even when they agree on an issue, they often do so for different reasons.
So what are the different values and assumptions that the two sides are working from? And what are the different interests, ideologies, and worldviews that give rise to those values and assumptions?
These are big questions, which we cannot fully think through in one blog post, but two recent articles that I have read can get us started.
Joanna Weiss has written an article for Politico on Oprah’s interview with Prince Harry and Duchess Mehgan entitled Why Are American Conservatives Siding With the Royal Family?
She asks why Americans of any stripe would be in any way supportive of old world monarchs and aristocracies, but she notes that in the aftermath of that interview, liberals were expressing support for Meghan as a victim of racism and other kinds of mistreatment from her royal in-laws, whereas American conservatives were expressing support for the royal family and skepticism about the complaints of this fabulously wealthy and privileged celebrity.
My own response–shaped too by watching The Crown–was to marvel that most of us lowly peasants, for all of our troubles, are evidently far happier than the members of this dysfunctional family who enjoy the highest social status, untold wealth, and enormous political power. And how this should be a lesson to us all about the pursuit of status, wealth, and power. But I digress. . .
Weiss asks why conservatives, in particular, who profess to adhere to the principles of the Founders–who, we might remember, staged a revolution against the monarchy–would take the Windsor’s side. I was expecting to read another diatribe against conservatives for not really holding to what they say they believe, but instead her article took a different turn. The different reactions to the issues aired in that interview simply demonstrate the differences in how liberals and conservatives approach problems.
Liberals, she says, tend to see problems in terms of systems. Whereas conservatives tend to see problems in terms of personal responsibility.
Liberals saw Meghan’s difficulties as manifestations of large, impersonal forces: systemic racism and sexism towards a biracial woman; the conformist pressures of the British class system and Royal tradition; the psychological stress of celebrity culture fueled by an intrusive media.
Conservatives saw Meghan as an incredibly privileged individual, whose complaints about perceived slights pale before the real-world problems of most non-titled people, including actual victims of racism. Yes, being in the royal family has its demands, forcing its members to sometimes put aside their own desires out of a sense of duty for the higher good. That simply shows that Britain’s constitutional monarchy is about more than personal aggrandizement. As for Meghan’s complaints about the media violating her privacy, they don’t ring true in a globally-broadcast TV show in which she spills her guts and her family’s secrets to Oprah. In doing so, she has damaged her family–including the Queen, whom she admits always treated her well–and her country.