Date: February 20, 2021 12:32AM
I need to do some exploration of the mindset I was in towards the end of my mission and right after. That was when I went full Tea party. I never read my mission journals again. It was so painful to go back to that mindset. I burned them a little while ago, too. I kept entries every day, and now they’re just gone because they were so full of memory and deep thoughts I couldn’t bear to dredge up. I was running away from those exact chains of thought when I dove headlong into evening AM radio on the long drive home from my day job. I just remember, I was struggling with doubt but I didn’t wanna doubt. I was desperate to make all of my experiences fighting for conservative Christian principles and the Mormon church mean some thing, because otherwise I was staring down the maw of both nihilism and the dissolution of all my human connections.
See, liberals don’t understand what they’re asking a conservative mind to do when they make an argument. A liberal ten years ago would say, “I think it’s time to fully integrate gay people in society,” and make an argument. They would show evidence. They would make an impassioned plea. They would post it on Facebook and expect that if it was a good enough argument, minds would have to change. But that isn’t how the minds of the people who “hate” gays work. I didn’t hate gays. I said that so many times to my liberal friends, and I meant it. I was bound by my belief in God to oppose something like gay marriage and to never allow gay rights to become something like black rights, because it would mean the church would have to change. At the time, imagining gay people marrying in the temple because of government tyranny was deep sacrilege and religious persecution. If it was actually fine, well then I would have question either church’s ability to divine the will of God, or the existence of God, or the validity of basing our lives on scripture. If the liberals making those arguments could have seen my thought process, they would watch me think those thoughts and comment, “yes, if your beliefs are oppressing other people, please question them.” But my whole worldview, my identity, my sense of purpose, my being, was tied to holding certain things sacred and sacrosanct, which is why it was so hard to accept that gay rights was exactly like black rights.
And that’s not the only issue. It’s all the issues. I resisted hearing that the climate was changing. I’ve thought hard about this one, and I think it’s because it’s closely related to having to accept how old the earth really is and that evolution of living things really happened. And that’s hard to do because it directly challenges the creation account. Liberals also came after what we were taught about gender roles. They challenged our scriptures. They wanted our God. Nothing was sacred to them and I found every part of their worldview and culture to be based in being offensive, being vulgar, delighting in sin, and destroying what others considered Holy.
So then, imagine how shook a mind like that gets *when the liberals start to make sense*. It feels like you’ve failed somehow at keeping the devil out. It like feeling something slither up against your foot while you stand in the water. It’s chilling. No, these disgusting people cannot be right, so you run to the sources you know for confirmation that they’re not right. Well, AM radio is right there in every car, and Rush Limbaugh went live every week night for years and years. He was always there. And of you couldn’t catch him there were others like Michael Savage. These old men who share many of the same concerns I just laid out would give you whatever you needed to hear to sooth your worries. No, there is a God. No, we can’t let gays integrate because “bla bla bla.” We’ve got to stop the liberals from corrupting X next.
It’s like what FAIRmormon does for Mormons, just way dumber and more below the belt. “The liberals” they talk about, I’ve never actually met someone who was as stupid and as shallow and as offensive as the liberals described in Rush Limbaugh’s show. But they exist. We who eat that shit up know they exist because these old men share anecdotes. It’s usually some story he heard from an old friend, a fellow retiree, about what the kids are doing these days and how they’re corrupting everything sacred and destroying this country and how the love of many maxes cold because they rejected God and old fashioned American values. You might mistake Rush’s show or Michael Savage’s show as a group therapy session for old men who have been traumatized but the kids who just son’t stay off their lawns — until you hear the people calling in on air. They’re young, many of them, like twenties and thirties and forties young.
Why are they leaning on shows like this you might wonder? Well, because these people are Christians mostly who were taught to distrust school and the government. Maybe they’ve thought about some of the things their liberal acquaintances have said, but they don’t have the tools or the education to understand what was said, or they lack the desire to undo their conditioning. Some of them never met a liberal in their lives but are horrified at what they hear is happening to the country. Because when you listen to this shit every day, you’re astounded at how busy the liberals are. They’re everywhere trying to dismantle everything that works just fine the way it is and they never stop trying to push their destructive, unholy, unAmerican agenda, because of Satan, basically, or communism which serves as the same basic plot device. This is how they choose to make sense of the world proposed to them by liberals. If you had a good education, had many friends who were also well educated, and didn’t have a lot of anti-intellectual beliefs that depended on you never getting a proper education, you’d never be taken by these shows. But, others without much education or who have lots of friends who don’t have a lot of education who share a lot of anti-intellectual beliefs together that depend on them never knowing any better would be taken by these shows.
These shows serve the purpose of making Democrats sound devilish, stupid, evil, cartoonish, etc and etc, in order to give the listeners an out. That great speech that Bill Clinton just gave, don’t worry about that. He’s a liberal. Listen to some of the stupid shit he’s tried to do. Can you believe this? They expect you to believe this. But we have principles and we know better.
It’s interesting that the Republican Party didn’t start going bananas until the nineties when Rush’s show took off and many copycats followed, including Fox News which is a cable news version of the same thing. There’s a holy regard for Ronald Reagan in this culture, and Reagan often made fun of New Deal Democrats. He famously said that a conservative is a liberal who has been mugged by reality. He talked about welfare queens hogging up the welfare system. He talked about capitalism and America in a juxtaposition against the Soviet Union that made people feel special. And, to prove all his points, he presided over the fall of the Soviet Union. So, imagine scraping together all the poor and less-educated white people and watching them make a mystery cult out of the things Reagan said. It would over time become dumber in many ways. Reagan knew how to talk to liberals and be in their company: many of the people who flock to Rush and his buddies do not. Over time it would add more items to the canon of things we don’t let the liberals tell us are true or good. It would exaggerate its straw man of liberals more and more as time went by, especially as these people start to grow in number enough to be taken seriously and all it does is illicit disgust from everyone outside of this echo chamber. So then this little cult starts to become isolated and it drives them deeper into it, but it’s also growing and it’s an open secret that the Republicans are pandering to this massive group of people who we know are listening to Rush’s bullshit everyday but they’re ashamed to admit where they get their info when you encounter these people in everyday life.
It’s because of this conservatalk rage-radio phenomenon that everybody on the right hates Bill Clinton. Think of what Bill Clinton was. He the great triangulator. Sometimes he did liberals stuff. Sometimes he did conservative stuff. Sometimes he did centrist stuff. Just whatever was right for the moment he would do. That’s not extremist, and he gave the Gengrich Republicans many things they wanted. He signed the bills which deregulated the telecom industry and undid the New Deal regulations on Wall Street among other things. He signed the NAFTA trade deal with Canada and Mexico which was a win for free markets if that’s something you say you value. There was no reason to hate him as much as they did, but they were determined to find a reason because whether or not he knew it he starred in Rush Limbaugh’s version of reality every night as the great liberal Satan, despite his real record passing bills that principled Republicans should have been pleased with, principled in the sense that they actually care about the things they say they care about and aren’t just being a bunch of assholes addicted to their self-image of valiantly opposing their cartoonish imagination of the liberal agenda. It is the latter, though, and not the former. He was their red devil, and by God they would have something on him. So they investigated him endlessly and settled for impeaching him over a blow job that he lied about.
When the kinds of people come into public spaces, like school, they don’t take it seriously. There are liberals there. What you learn there is bullshit but the liberals control it so you have to go along with it. They throw up a facade and do necessary things because they have to to get good grades but they resent it and they wish for an idealized version of American school where they didn’t have to do this every day. They vainly imagine an America that used to be but never actually was where we pray in school, everyone fears God, and no one would think about letting socialism into our government policies. They get tired of the liberal tyranny over time, and they start pushing back against it, but most of the time all their liberal friends did was exist next to them. What it shows is that they’re LARPing (that’s live action role playing) when they’re around liberals, and a “liberal” over time has come to mean anyone who isn’t part of this conservative cult and actively opposes it.
You have to understand this psychology to understand why conservatives plugged into conservative media do things. You have to understand the insecurities and ignorances that feed their behavior. You have to understand what these people hold sacred and how they feel those sacred things are being trampled. Then you can understand why Rush Limbaugh was so appealing to many. Then you can understand how his copycats pushed the envelope even further. Then you can understand how someone like Bush got elected. Then you can understand why there was so much irrational and yet passionate opposition to Obama. The black man with a Muslim name was the event that caused this cottage industry to take off the like a rocket, because on the right it was like a 9/11. We were talking about Obama in the moments right before his inauguration like Hitler had just been elected. We were scared. Obama was a flex in the power of America’s growing vote of color. McCain would have won in previous years but he didn’t, and that sacred the shit out of everyone, and they blamed “the illegals” who they imagined Democrats were trucking up south of the border by the millions and helping to vote illegally just to take away America from real Americans in order to do the cartoonish version of the liberal agenda that they think liberals wanna do for all their cartoonish reasons. This is why the gang of eight in the senate was an utter failure — this cult was taking over the base, and everyone on the right was starting to think like this and the talking heads were getting diverse and competitive and the most extreme ones got the most attention. This was also happening in tandem with social media for the first time, which exploded the reach of the cult into the mainstream right. They called the elves the tea party in reference to one of the opening acts of rebellion in the original American Revolution against Great Britain. They imagined that they were the true patriots, quoting the prophets called the Founding Fathers chapter and verse as to why Obama doing basic Keynesian economics that everyone since FDR has done would destroy our country. And when that failed make enough headway into stopping the liberal agenda, they retreated to their tea party Facebook groups or tuned in to AM radio and mourned the death of America as they knew it. They never saw Obama’s compromises with them. They never saw that his compromises were preconpromised without being asked and further compromised after being asked, and their elected representatives still spat in Obama’s face, because they needed him to be the new red devil in this latest version of their culty conservatalk bullshit. They needed him to be Marxist. They needed him to be the most scummy thing that there ever was in the White House to justify their behavior, and they were so good at immersing themselves in their own bullshit and believing it that that’s exactly what they accomplished.
I jumped off the train in 2013 after Obama won the second time, so I don’t know exactly how the thinking of the conservatalk cult went on after that. I just kinda figured there was gonna be more brown people and our national values might alter slightly, but not that much because Latinos were overwhelmingly Catholic. I started being real with myself about who Obama really was. I was at BYUI, and that had a lot to do with it. I went to BYUI to be at that kind of idealized American school o talked about. I thought if there were no liberals around, I’d learn about accredited subjects without their bullshit in it. I hoped. Instead, I found the accredited BYUI curriculum to resemble much of what my public elementary, jr high, and high schools had tried to teach me, just with lots of institute classes sprinkled throughout the day and lots of prayer and devotional and testimony bearing that conveniently kept people learning real accredited knowledge from piecing anything together with other people from other majors in a way that challenged the dominant conservative beliefs on campus. It was disenchanting, not to my desire to learn true things but to the way I had clung to conservative beliefs like a big titty baby and trash talked Obama ignorantly just cuz I couldn’t deal with my own shit.
Do you remember the movie Inception? The protagonists in that movie dive into someone else’s dreams, and they remind themselves that the space around them isn’t real by keeping an item around that only they know what it really feels like and acts like because only they touch it in the real world. They call it a totem. Well, my totem was the experience of being treated like shit over my “porn addiction” and knowing that the instant I stopped wanting to be Mormon, I would be smeared and reviled as a porn addict and it wouldn’t matter if I’d been sober for X amount of years. I understood that Mormonism was unfair to its dissenters, because I’d realized this on my mission. I’d seen it. And I knew on some level that I was just being a bitch ass. Right after my mission, I went back to community college. I took two classes that I thought I would find interesting, Chicano studies and world religions. I took several years of Spanish in high. School thinking I was going to serve in a foreign-speaking mission. I didn’t. I liked Latinos. I knew about their culture, and I liked it. I wanted to know more. Chicano studies was one of those liberal classes where I had to grin and pretend to like it. The professor was, well, exactly how a conservative imagines in this case. He took every shot at “Anglos” that he could and at one point even pointed to the flag up the corner of the classroom and said that that was imperialism. He introduced to me an Inperial way of looking at the flag and at all that nonHispanic white people had done throughout American history. It was jarring. I was already in a vulnerable state, though, so I didn’t fight back. I was there for a grade, and I had to listen to my conservative “Anglo” Americanism get dismantled for a whole semester, which I didn’t realize was like a religion in so many ways. This was paired with a world religions teacher who assaulted Christianity in much the same way throughout the semester even when we were on Hinduism or Zoroastrianism. Actually Zoroastrianism was very interesting, because it filled in some blanks I had about why the New testament sounded so different from the Old Testament when the Book of Mormon insists that so many New Testament things were known back in the Old Testamnent days. Why didn’t the Torah ever talk about the afterlife much? These little things, well those were syncretisms from the Medes and the Persians when the Jews were captives in Babylon, and so was the idea that there was only one good God and an anti-God, or a devil. It was interesting, but also, a whole lot of things started to click, and the context was all wrong for me to realize these things. I was battling “porn addiction.” Oh God, the things people at church would say. I began to figure that my religion was bullshit, or at least not literally true (how that differs from straight up “bullshit” eludes me). I hoped that it was still possible to save my testimony, so I shelved those thoughts, dropped out of community college despite having a Presidential scholarship, and became a bug man who worked long days and listened to Michael Savage every night on my drive home in an attempt to undo what all these liberals everywhere were doing to my psyche and accept that my unbelief came because of my iniquity. But, after a year of this I decided it was time to go back to college. I was still doped up on conservatalk for the first year, and then I just let it go.
That was when so was listening to Jon Stewart more and more. I began listening to other views of who Obama really was and why he wasn’t all that radical. I thought maybe it was neato to be a centrist who wasn’t bent out of shape all the time. There was a moment right before the election in November 2012 when I was posting all sorts of stupid shit on my Facebook thinking I was being clever. It was during one of the debates. I said something about Obama getting a Nobel peace prize just because he was black, and a friend of mine, a liberal girl who went to Spanish class with me at that community college and who was friends with me on Facebook, was shocked that I would bring Obama’s race into it. She was so kind to me, and so long-suffering of my hateful nonsense directed at people exactly like her. But I liked her, and she like me. She viewed my thing as something I might outgrow instead of “canceling” me. I noticed that. When Obama won again, I was dazed and confused by I realized that it only meant a majority of other voters were not interested in our vision of America. I had been disabused of my most nonsensical tea party beliefs, because college does that. I stopped listening to Michael Savage, because he was raging something dark into his microphone and it was starting to get racial. He said something about self-hating whites committing ethnic and cultural suicide. I was done with him after that. My whole indignity against liberals was that we were not racist just for opposing Obama. Well, apparently some of us were, and I began to understand the racial undertones of much of the movement.
For example, the very first American who thought that liberals had used government to overstep government’s designed boundaries and infringe on our freedoms were probably those people who opposed integration and the civil rights movement. They had to shut up and accept it, though, because they lost the argument and the opposite became law, and that was when the first bitching and meaning about “political correctness” started. But then I thought, no this goes all the way back to the Civil War in some ways when Southerners were making the similar arguments about the federal government being designed to let the states do what wanted as to the slave question. And here I was thinking racism had actually ended recently, like it just dried up and vanished. I didn’t think I was racist even while I was lending my support to SB1070 here in Arizona which gave the local police the authority to basically enforce federal immigration law by badgering any Latino they rounded up for any offense for their papers proving they were here legally. I imagined that they were pawns incapable of seeing through liberal propaganda in an evil liberal plot to destroy my country, even though all the ones I’d ever met were decent people who didn’t want much except to work and live and be accepted as Americans and not have grandma deported. I just never made certain connections with my brain about what a colosal asshole I must look like to my nonMormon, not-as-conservative friends. I’d just spent so much time in my own head, which I tend to do.
I just let it all go. I started dealing with my shit instead of taking it out on everyone else. About a year and half later, I would discover the gospel topics essays starting with the Race and the Priesthood essay, which started my research of and slow exit from the church, including my discovery of this sub. It’s been a long time coming, I was just afraid to do it. By 2015, I was an atheist in the closet at BYUI trying to figure out what I was gonna do next, because I never imagined having control of my own life and it was at the time that Trump started to ascend. I was unplugged by then. I didn’t understand it.
But now that it’s over. If I had to imagine how the thinking went, at least in the early days as the conservatalk cult’s final mutation into Trumpism was happening, I imagine that most conservatives didn’t do what I did. They doubled down and accepted whatever bullshit they had to to explain why all their efforts had failed, something about George Soros and millions of illegal aliens voting and the complete or near complete corruption of our institutions by the liberal agenda. I was on the other side when SCOTUS ruled on gay marriage. I know they blamed Obama and imagined some grand master plan to destroy America, like there have to be gays feeling like it’s ok to be themselves in the streets before God can do unto America like he did unto Sodom and Gomorrah, which liberals want to happen for some reason. I don’t know how Q-anon happened, but it must have something to do with how invincible Trump felt to them, which would have been a big deal to that mindset after eight years of losing every issue to the liberals. It must have seemed like the whole liberal conspiracy and how far it reached revealed itself prematurely after almost every newspaper in the country endorsed Clinton and even some Republicans tried to deny the Trump. And it just spiraled from there.
In reality, people outside of conservative cult thinking were just having normal reactions to putting a man like Trump in power, and they were having this reaction all at once because we were all watching the same shit show, not because the liberal media was controlling everything we think as George Soros pulled all the strings.
My journey out was unique. There were parts of it I was never into. I’m surprised at all the fucked up things in the last five years that this worldview has been able to excuse or spin away or reinterpret as positives... or just ignore. It’s been mind bending. It’s its own reality at this point, and I have no fucking idea what it’s going to do next or how to reach someone who is stuck in it now.