OPINION – My name is Bryan, and I’m a recovering neoconservative.
It took many years for me to recognize that I had a thinking problem that caused me to equate raw power with national greatness. The current agitation for war with Iran reminds me that I’m not the only one who has struggled with might-makes-right thinking.
Here are some of the more common symptoms of neoconservative thinking. Do you glorify every use of U.S. military force, big or small, as proof of our national righteousness and strength? Without knowing anything other than what you’ve been told by the mass media, do you eagerly testify to the intractable wickedness of whoever is on the receiving end of that force?
Do you proudly refer to the president as “our Commander-in-Chief” even though you’ve never worn our nations uniform? Do you tend to speak in terms of “we” and “us” when it comes to foreign policy decisions that you had nothing to do with either making or implementing?
If “yes” was the answer any of these questions, it’s likely that you’ve been neoconned too.
Those who cling most tenaciously to this power hungry ideology are often living lives wrapped in a cheap, faux patriotism that requires zero substantive personal action. They may experience a sense of purpose and, more importantly, a sense of supremacy over all those bleeding-heart nitwits who just don’t get it.
Neoconservatives tend to keep a label maker handy to put dissenters in their place by pigeonholing them as “America-haters” or “appeasers.”
Neoconservative thinking is driven by an aggressive, chest-beating, nationalistic sense of superiority to all other nations based on an adoration of the symbols of the power of the state. It bears no resemblance to the reverent humility of those whose love for country stems from devotion to its people, traditions, and principles. It’s a type of thinking where others may be viewed as mere insects whose deaths make our lives better.
I’m not proud to admit that I once fully embraced such thinking. I built a strong and enthusiastic talk radio audience by parroting the same neoconservative talking points heard daily by millions of listeners across the country. It’s no accident that neoconservativism currently dominates virtually every corner of talk radio. It is a proven, successful formula for generating an audience.
It was the unabashed fear mongering, shameless pack mentality and ultimate abandonment of Constitutional principles during the lead up to the Iraq war that finally opened my eyes to where my neoconservative thinking was leading me. But the real eye opener came when I openly questioned the wisdom of the Iraq war on the air.
My neoconservative peers were obviously less than understanding. My listeners denounced me both on the air and in letters to the editor in the local paper. Every day my show was filled with confrontation from angry callers who gleefully labeled me as “anti-American” and “an appeaser.” It was a supremely humbling experience, to put it mildly.
But it was also a necessary way of hitting rock bottom and realizing that some necessary changes were in order. This recognition ultimately spurred a personal desire to re-examine my thinking. I eventually chose to alter the course of my life and engage in genuine, in-depth scholarship regarding the principles of good government and the cause of liberty.
My studies led me to examine not only what our Founders knew about good government but also how their thinking was influenced by great philosophers like Aristotle, Locke, Hume, and Montesquieu. The words of these great thinkers still have great relevance in our day for those who aren’t busy shouting bumper sticker slogans.
It didn’t take long to learn that regurgitated talking points are no substitute for thoughtful examination of the actual words of those who framed our system of limited government.
The Founders understood that the state itself too often becomes an enemy of freedom, particularly by exploiting the patriotism of the citizenry. Once we’ve internalized this insight, it is much easier to turn away from the mindset that tends to treat others as mere objects to be confronted and controlled, and to instead focus on moving the cause of liberty.
In 12-step programs, participants are encouraged to seek strength from a higher power. This is significant in that not only our rights but our true individual and national strength also originate from a Higher Power.
I know there are others out there who are beginning to recognize that neoconservative statism is exactly as destructive to freedom as the socialist variety of statism. I invite all who love this nation and are ready to make meaningful change to please join me on the road to recovery.
Bryan Hyde is a news commentator and co-host of the Perspectives morning show on Fox News 1450 AM 93.1 FM. The opinions stated in this article are his and not representative of St. George News.
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