How Do You Raise A Thinking Conservative?

I’m sure my left of center friends will be adding a punch line to what they think is a headline as a beginning of a joke. So be it. I’m old enough to remember when the GOP prided itself on being “the party of ideas”. And we were.

“Were”. Past tense.

A friend of mine sent over the following email. I’m going to leave it here for group discussion and suggestions. (It wasn’t written to be a blog post, so it’s in an informal, email between a group of friends style.) I’ll try to think of a few recommendations of my own and add after the conversation gets going. I’m more interested in input from you fine people first.

My boys (pre-teen & early teen) have taken an interest in politics. And, damnit, they are Berniebots. I blame this on a variety of factors…

I sincerely want to avoid indoctrinating my kids with my opinions. It would be easy to raise kids to believe exactly what I believe (on religion, politics, art, whatever), but that only produces little automatons. Eventually, they grow up, encounter different points of view, change their minds about stuff and resent being indoctrinated.

Donald Trump (and the other choads peddling ridiculous beliefs) have made it easy for kids to instantly reject Republicans as lunatics and idiots.

Their demographic is full of berniebots, so they are constantly exposed to “Bernie is awesome” propaganda.
As a result, they have a naively positive view of progressives, socialism and all that shit. And, frankly, I’m having trouble saying many positive things about Republicans right now.

So I want to give them some things to read. Things that will make them think. I’m not trying to persuade them that they are wrong, just that the world is more complicated than they think, that “good intentions” do no equal good policy, and that they should try to learn more about government, politics and policy before having strong opinions on them.

Do you guys have any suggestions for what I should give them? Looking for A) books that will work well for their age group, or B) online reading that will give kid-friendly summaries of libertarianism/free markets vs socialism/progressivism. I can email them links, so feel free to send appropriate articles or websites.

Any ideas would be welcomed.

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xdog
xdog

Imo most Americans would benefit from reading The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Life on the Mississippi, and Innocents Abroad, although they might be beyond easy reach of your pre-teen. Homage to Catalonia would seem to fit the bill too and you could engage your boys in discussing whether Orwell is of the left or right. There’s Animal Farm too but I suppose they’ll get that in school and anyway it’s a cartoon.

I doubt any “kid-friendly summaries of libertarianism/free markets vs socialism/progressivism” are more than propaganda but maybe not.

Teri
Teri

Oooh! Oooh! Mt. Kotter! It sounds like my kids are a little younger than your friend’s, Charlie, but I have thoughts and suggestions for your friend (and the rest of the internet). This doesn’t specifically answer his questions, but hopefully it’s a start. Subscribe to a newspaper. And not just online – pay a newspaper to deliver a dead tree print edition to your house, every day. Put the paper on the breakfast table (or wherever your kids tend to congregate – mine are eaters). Read the paper in front of them. Talk about things you read. Talk about bias,… Read more »

rickday
rickday

I would suggest the parent realize that indeed, not all parents are right, nor are ‘grown ups’. The paternalistic position of “what is wrong with these robots” is simply “Get off my Lawn” boomerthink.

Why don’t you site down with them and explain why they can’t dream of a government that benefits the majority of the governed? Explain how your exasperated conservatism has just not taken hold, and if it wern’t for those damn commies! *shakes fist*.

Maybe, Pops, you should listen to them. After all, its their world you are mucking up.

The Eiger
The Eiger

I think I’ll pass on the parenting advice from the resident pot head. Thanks though.

John Konop
John Konop

Rick,

Please keep posting, I enjoy reading your thoughtful comments with a dry sense of humor agree or not.

rickday
rickday

You called me “pot head” as if it were a bad thing.

Puzzling, yet understandable that you are totes out of touch with anyone not shared in your echo chamber..

Saltycracker
Saltycracker

Everyone has a different definition of conservative. Teaching children how you believe is a hands on project. Travel, history, economics, genealogy, the understanding of how different folks live and importantly knowledge of our relationship with nature. Then get them into the responsibility to help in the planning and implementation of those projects is all one can do. Let someone else be the primary educator or activity director or reject an active role in their life and you will not be raising your child. Insuring that someone or something else entertains them is not a role, at best it enables them,… Read more »

Saltycracker
Saltycracker

PS too much to list – I’d expose them to not just ours but other religions, customs, nationalities, institutions, ceremonies…teaching them to respect and understand our world. No amount of material diversion can replace your time and it is rewarding. They will go down their individual path but guaranteed to leave you proud.

If they vote democrat, you will know you were on the wrong side of the abortion debate. 😎

Ellynn
Ellynn

I’m not sure you can raise children to be a set opinion. Example. I grew up in a house that listened to the nightly news – every night. We had both conservative and progressive papers – every thing from the Ripon Forum to the Catholic Worker. (I had both a Republican and a Democrat for parents.) I also had a collection of aunts and uncles who were members of Catholic Orders, some of them very strict conservative dogma followers, some of them not so much. I and my sibling are so far separated on the political spectrum, it’s not funny,… Read more »

Davo65
Davo65

When I think of what would constitute a ‘liberal’ leaning book I would have to say that one of the central themes would be a diverse group of people coming together to overcome some adversity…not a family but an embrace of ‘the other’. So a conservative type book would be the story of the loner with convictions going it solo against his demon. Also the theme that the world is inherently unfair. So almost any Western would fit that bill. Cormac McCarthy writes stuff like that…’The Road’, No Country for Old Men’…really strong, individualistic stuff. In the realm of the… Read more »

Benevolus
Benevolus

“the world is more complicated than they think”,
““good intentions” do not equal good policy”,
“try to learn more about government, politics and policy before having strong opinions on them. ”

Not so sure your friend is a conservative!

Andrew C. Pope
Andrew C. Pope

I think the emphasis should be on thinking not on Conservative. Focus on raising kids who are capable of thinking critically and advocating persuasively and worry less about ideology. As someone who was once a Republican, then a bleeding heart liberal, and is now settling in somewhere left of center, I think I’m better for having exposed myself to competing views and ideologies. Discuss politics with your kids, explore why they feel the way they do, and challenge them (in a way that isn’t belittling) to defend their beliefs. The country needs more people capable of thinking critically.

Rob
Rob

The Cartoon Introduction to Economics: Volume Two: Macroeconomics
by Yoram Bauman

Fantastic intro to econ without there being an overt political message.

Indypendant
Indypendant

I did not set out to raise my children (who are now adults) to mimic my opinions and beliefs, I raised them to be independent thinkers.

They turned out just fine, and disagree with me on numerous issues.

One of the reasons our country is in this pickle is people have raised their children to be mindless robots parroting their parents.

My caustic freak flag flies high, but I raised it up the flagpole on my own accord.

John Konop
John Konop

……..I did not set out to raise my children (who are now adults) to mimic my opinions and beliefs, I raised them to be independent thinkers.

They turned out just fine, and disagree with me on numerous issues.

One of the reasons our country is in this pickle is people have raised their children to be mindless robots parroting their parents………..

I agree!

Saltycracker
Saltycracker

“Mindless robots” is a sign of a failure or absence of parenting. The lack of engaged, responsible parenting today is one of our national tragedies.

blakeage80
blakeage80

While an understanding of economics is key, as a few above have pointed out, Don’t forget that an understanding of human nature is just as essential in understanding the political realm. “A Treatise of Human Nature”, The Bible, “The Picture of Dorian Gray”, “1984”. Understanding people and how they react to situations is very helpful in understanding the best way to govern them.

Oh and listen to Rush Limbaugh’s archives. 🙂

Saltycracker
Saltycracker

“Understanding human nature” yes, both the genetic and the rational.
“Best way to govern” made me reflect on many hours of philosophy courses in college. Particularly one course on crowd (mob) behavior overriding individual judgement. (Professor wrote the book)

rickday
rickday

Oh yeah the Bible. Read them the part about Abraham hearing voices, and then disobeying the direct order of God to blood sacrifice his son, because he was so easily talked out of the murder by a lesser being than God (just an angel).

That is a great story!

Ellynn
Ellynn

Is forcing a 10 year old to listen to Rush (new or archived) a violation of the 8th Amendment?

blakeage80
blakeage80

I didn’t think his subscription fee was so high as to constitute excessive bail. 🙂

Ellynn
Ellynn

It would fall under unusual punishments in my world. Both the subscription and the annoying tone of his voice. Who cares what the words are, that sound hurts my ears.

drjay
drjay

you beat them, you beat them until they agree with you and will recite the answers you want on queue…

NorthGAGirl
NorthGAGirl

My top suggestions are the Uncle Eric series by Richard Maybury (he covers economics, law, and politics, written at roughly a middle school level) and The Discovery of Freedom by Rose Wilder Lane. Then move into harder things like the entire Federalist/anti-Federalist papers and The Constitution of Liberty or The Road to Serfdom by Hayek. I also handed my oldest the Communist Manifesto…and was pleased she could pick out every single thing that was wrong with it, with absolutely no guidance from me. Oh, and make them actually read the entire Declaration of Independence and Constitution. I did this as… Read more »

rickday
rickday

Is that why you are a libertarian?

j/k

NorthGAGirl
NorthGAGirl

I’m not a libertarian. But I guess I lean more that way as a Republican. Everyone should read the actual documents and the arguments used to get the Constitution ratified, though.

Andrew C. Pope
Andrew C. Pope

They should also read the Supreme Court decisions interpreting it. Majority opinions and dissents, especially Scalia dissents. Every kid should be able to use jiggery pokery in a sentence.

Benevolus
Benevolus

“Smart kids catch on when they actually read what is written rather than just a commentary on it.”

I’m curious about this. Care to elaborate?

NorthGAGirl
NorthGAGirl

I guess what I’m saying is it’s better to read the words for yourself instead of just someone else’s summary of what it means. Most reasonably intelligent people can figure out the meaning without commentary. It’s been decades, but what I remember getting in high school government class was a summary of the Constitution, but we never read the actual document. I suspect that hasn’t changed. My family and a few other families got together and went through the Constitution line by line…it was a very enlightening exercise. The only commentary we looked at was writings of the people involved… Read more »

Andrew C. Pope
Andrew C. Pope

As an attorney whose law school course load involved Con Law I, Con Law II, State Constitutional Law, and separate courses on the First Amendment and the Fourth Amendment, I can assure you that no, most reasonably intelligent people cannot figure out the meaning of the Constitution without commentary and that there are very few segments of the Constituiton upon which “reasonably intelligent people” agree. I will also tell you, as a history buff and a person with a high tolerance for tedium, that the people “closest to the source” didn’t even agree with one another about what the Constitution… Read more »

ScottNAtlanta
ScottNAtlanta

I was subjected to the McLaughlin Group every weekend as a child (back when we had 3 channels and PBS on UHF)…and the funny thing is I still watch it (online) and the old man looked old then and he looks exactly the same way now…scary. Oh, and if you train your children to be conservative you will be raising the best liberals when they leave your house to move on. These kids are too old to influence if they are already Feelin The Bern.