Conversation With A Conservative Father In Law

“We shape our opinions to conform to the views of the groups with which we most strongly identify. The more threatened we feel, the more we circle the wagons to keep ourselves safe.  So the next time someone stubbornly refuses to see the light of day on an issue, throw them a bone. They’re only trying to stay alive.”

(Professor David Ropeik, Harvard Univ, in Psychology Today)


After last Friday’s 7:30 AM “Rough Rider’s” meeting at the Minneapolis Club, an acquaintance and I went next door to the Hen House restaurant on 8th Street in Minneapolis for breakfast.

After some small talk he made it clear that he wanted to tell me of the difficulty he is having with his new (6 months ago) daughter-in-law.

He said, “She wants to lecture everyone on her Leftist politics, but is unwilling to debate any of her pronouncements. And her politics is all philosophy – what ‘a perfect world would be like’ – without recognizing that there’s has been a great deal of real-world experience showing that many of her ideas have been tried and turned out badly.

“When she told me socialism is looking better than capitalism, I mentioned Venezuela’s catastrophic experience with socialism.  Her response was to tell me that I don’t respect her views because she’s just a ‘young woman.’”

He continued, “Most frustrating to me is that she is so very confident in her views.  When I tactfully tried a different approach, and asked her ‘what are the best arguments of those that disagree with you on ‘climate change,’ she just shrugged and answered there are none.”

I asked him what his son’s reaction was to his wife’s one-sided and uninformed certainty.

He answered, “My son has learned that her views are so strongly held that she considers even a question about them to be a personal criticism. So he doesn’t question her, but I think she knows he is unlikely to agree.  But he did tell me that they no longer go out with many of his former conservative friends.”

“What a pity,” I replied.

Jim Van Houten