Tuesday, April 12, 2022


In February, when The New York Times assembled a focus group of Democrats and independents, the questions asked were about the economy -- for instance, "Have there been folks here who have lost a job, who have gone on unemployment?" and "How many people say that that’s on their minds, the cost of things going up?" In a focus group conducted for the Times a month earlier, independent voters were asked such questions as "How many of you think that the level of crime is up in America today, versus a year ago?" and "Do you live paycheck to paycheck?"

Now the Times has put together a focus group consisting of conservative men. The principal subject?

Their feelings.

Among the questions:
* "How free do you feel to just be yourself in society these days?"

* "Are there any places where you do feel comfortable — at home, being yourself?"

* "Do you think that our society values you? The things you contribute, the things that you stand for — do you think that society values you?"
In a way, this is appropriate. Democrats vote for candidates they hope will address real problems -- climate change, health care affordability, economic inequality. Republicans vote for candidates who make them feel good, and who tell them that they're better than everyone else. Republicans want politicians to solve problems too, but the problems are usually along the lines of People I don't like feel free to do things I don't like! They shouldn't be allowed to do that! It makes me feel bad! Or, alternately, I'm not allowed to do whatever I want without consequence! That needs to change!

So we have this answer from one of the participants, in the midst of a long discussion of masculinity:
Danny: Look at fashion. Look at the newer generation of how people dress, how men dress. There’s men, and there’s women, and there’s masculinity, and femininity. And there’s no reason to destroy one in order to make the other one better. I’m not trying to get into a negative men-versus-women thing, but I’m seeing masculinity under attack. And I’m seeing men wearing tight skinny jeans, with no socks and velvet shoes. And it’s cool to wear pink. I don’t mind wearing pink. It’s a cool color. And I’m not saying colors belong with a certain gender. It’s so funny — this is what we were talking about earlier: Every time you speak, you don’t feel comfortable enough to say what’s on your mind, where you have to almost give a disclaimer. I have no problem with pink. But when we go out to a club or a dinner or dancing, you see some of the younger generation wearing very feminine clothes, blatantly feminine clothes — so much so that we are almost trying to portray masculinity as negative.
Danny is very, very upset that he has to see people dressing in ways he doesn't like. They're not forcing him to dress that way -- they're just doing it themselves. But it isn't right that they're doing that!

Something needs to be done about other peoples personal choices! Yet no one should be allowed to question the personal choices of conservative men:
Robert: I voted for Trump. I like Trump from when he was with “The Apprentice.” I knew him as a businessperson. That’s why I voted for him. And then — oh, Lord — from church to every place, people just had a problem with it. You can’t have a different viewpoint.
It's not fair that other people get to disagree with me!

One participant says, "We are the most selfish, self-centered, entitled culture. Everything is me, me, me" -- and yet the participants agree that the real anser to question Who has real problems in America is "me, me, me."
Kristen Soltis Anderson: Show of hands: How many of you would say that men have it harder these days than two or three decades ago?

[Five of the eight raise their hands.] ...

Kristen Soltis Anderson: How many of you think men have it harder than women these days? In the year 2022, it’s harder to be a man than a woman these days.

[Krupal and Danny raise their hands.] ...

Patrick Healy: A show-of-hands question: Do you think sexism is a major problem in America today?

[Nobody raises a hand.]

And do you think racism is a major problem in America today?

[Nobody raises a hand.]
We know that conservatism wallows in self-pity -- but the moderators didn't have to indulge that tendency. It's The New York Times, so of course that's what we get.

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