So you Studied History and You're a Conservative... I am Sorry.

I started writing this in July of 2015 and never got around to publishing it. Now to clean out my drafts folder, and to get back in the habit of publishing here it is!

So you studied history, and you’re a conservative. I am sorry. Let’s get some things out of the way right now. You are going to make your conservative friends angry. You are going to make liberal people who think you are liberal angry. You are going to confuse a lot of people. You are likely to make Libertarians sad as well.

You see, studying history means that you learned a lot about things like evaluating the quality of source material, tracking down data to confirm hypothesis, using scientific research approaches on social science topics, understanding why people do things,etc. Skills that are very useful.

If you are like me then you most likely reveled in ripping apart the sources in a popular history book for at least one class. Mine was The Wild Frontier: Atrocities During the American-Indian War from Jamestown Colony to Wounded Knee, a book with 4 stars on Amazon and completely flawed revisionist source material inside. I still think about the excitement I had when I discovered it cited the World Book Encyclopedia as a source. I know... there is something wrong with me. I studied history, that should have been obvious.

This is a good thing, it means you are good at evaluating the quality of information that you are being given. This skill will also make people mad. Like when you tear into their sources for anti-vax/anti-gmo/anti-climate change information. The shock you will feel when they make arguments with information that has not been peer reviewed is normal. But they do it all the time.

Another sticking point is going to be that you understand the history of political parties in the USA. Trust me, don’t make the mistake of mentioning that Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt would have had serious ideological problems with the Republican Party of today. Don’t mention that the Republican Party was not historically the party of social conservatism.

You may also want to avoid talking about immigration and immigration policy in the USA. Chances are you learned that many of the arguments used in immigration debates today are the same ones used against the Irish over a century ago (jobs, religion, ’murica). Pointing that out won’t make you many friends. Neither will pointing out that the USA’s culture is a conglomerate of many nation’s cultures and that t)hat’s a good thing.

Your knowledge of the "Golden Age Fallacy" will also upset people. Understanding that there was no golden age, that the age in which we currently live is as golden as any other age will not win you friends.

Oh and stay away from discussing the actual history of the Middle East if you studied it.

Lastly, don’t try to humanize people. Remember how you learned to set aside judgment? Because you can’t judge people from a context that their actions weren’t taken in? That will definitely not make you a popular kid. Don’t try and point out that people are applying their own social construct to people who don’t even know that construct exists. Because everyone grew up in a stable household with two parents. Had plenty of money, and grew up surrounded by Christian neighbors who liked American Football and Star Wars.

Remembering this will help you survive the world now that you are in it. Congrats on being a conservative history degree holder. It’s going to be hard to listen to people cite Fox News since you learned to detect bias in materials. Press on, and don’t worry about making people mad every once in awhile. You studied history, it’s what you trained to do.

Published: 17 Mar 2017 | Tags: draft publishing , history , liberal arts , education , politics , history