Have you ever noticed that conservative folks (politically and religiously) like to be told what to do? I don’t mean they will say “just tell me what to say, do, or think” but I mean that the people they flock to admire tend to be people who will tell them what to do and not challenge them very much to come to their own conclusions. (Or to examine how they came to the conclusions they evangelize.)
Example #1: Bill O’Reilly and Rush Limbaugh. These guys are certifiably nuts. (But entertaining) They spew all sorts of nonsense and political conservatives love them. People even call and email them to proclaim them as right in every situation. 90% of Stephen Colberts schtick is mocking them and still some peopel think they are brilliant.
Example #2: Dave Ramsey and Suze Orman. Don’t get me wrong, people should be conservative with their money. But if you have to call in to their show to hear this… “pay cash, pay off your credit cards” than I suspect you won’t notice that their making millions by humiliating you on TV, radio, books, and curriculum. Again, their shows are fodder for comedians. I hope someone gets a show on Comedy Central to teach people how to manage their money soon.
Example #3: Alpha male pastors. Look, I’m too close to evangelicalism to start naming names. I don’t care to get myself in that kind of trouble. But over and over I see these guys become succesful. They aren’t saying or doing anything special… just alpha dudes who get their jollies telling their congregations what to do. (Politics, money, and sex tend to be their top topics.) And yet, conservative people flock to them. This isn’t just senior pastors either! I see worship dudes and youth ministry dudes taking the same stance. It’s a powerful addiction as the more authoritative and the more they manipulate an audience, the more fervor people follow them. (The flip side is that the most successful ministry leaders are extremely humble, it’s only on their rise that they seem to be like this.)
Why do these conservative voices go unchecked? This is the beauty of the conservative system. If you dare to mention someone’s name or second guess some of their proclamations… just watch what the fan boys do! It’s as hilariously and predictable as the Cubs failing to mkae the World Series.
See, once these fans admire/idolize someone, once they learn to love being told what to do by them, these fans become vipers. The scour the earth looking for people who dare to question their dude’s authority and then they lash out. “How dare you question Dave? He helped me get out of debt.” (As if Dave Ramsey actually paid your bills… no, you were the one who got yourself out of debt!) “How dare you question my pastor? Because of him I am a new man!” (No, you are a new man because of grace and your pastor doesn’t impart grace.”) “How dare you question Rush? He was right about Bill Clinton!” (OK, I’ll give you that. But it was a decade ago.)
What’s the other side of this coin? Ah, there is a deadly side to this game as well. Being loved by conservatives is a double-edged sword. The moment that someone slays these dragons… or more often… their own actions disqualify them from holding their authoritative voice over conservatives, they are stricken down.
The sick thing about being a conservative voice for politics, money, or religion is that you are only the voice-du-jour. One day these people will turn on you. Not only will conservative people turn on their leader-du-jour, they will austrecize them. Then they will pretend like they never really listened to you, cared about you, or bought your book.
It’s a sick system. And I’m part of it.
So, I wonder… what’s with the psychosis of wanting to be told what to do?
Is it that we don’t want to think for ourselves?
Is it that we long for the simple life?
Or is it something else?