Skip to comments.A Peculiar People: Crunchy Cons
Posted on 03/07/2006 6:08:18 AM PST by Mr. Silverback
If you encountered someone who made his own granola, bought his veggies at a food co-op, wore Birkenstock sandals, and wanted to save the environment, if youre like me, youd probably think, well, there goes a lefty, or a liberal, or maybe an aging hippie. But the author of a new book says someone like that is just as likely to be a conservative Republican. In his book, Crunchy Cons, journalist Rod Dreher writes about a group of people he calls crunchy conservatives, a group that includes, among others, hip homeschooling mamas, Birkenstocked Burkeans, gun-loving organic farmers, and right-wing nature lovers.
What Dreher, a Dallas Morning News columnist, means by crunchy conservative is someone who rejects the consumerist and individualistic mainstream of American life. This rejection distinguishes their worldview from that of mainstream liberalism or conservatism, which, in Drehers estimation, are both essentially materialist ideologies.
The result of this materialism is a society dedicated to the multiplication of wants and the intensification of desire, not the improvement of character. What sets Drehers crunchy cons apart is the extent to which they have recognized the corrosive effects of a culture that is both materialistic and pornographic, and they are prepared to do something about it.
They all start at the most basic level: marriage and family. Of course, the liberal and the conservative mainstream both affirm the centrality of the family. After all, apart from some radicals, everybody is for the family, right?
Well, not like the crunchy cons are. People like Caleb Stegall, a Kansas lawyer who is profiled in the book, dont just talk a good game when it comes to familytheir lives testify to its importance. They walk away from prestigious jobs and sacrifice a second income in order to make the time to raise families correctly.
This emphasis on family and instilling character is why many crunchy cons homeschool. As a Manhattan mother of five told Dreher, homeschooling shows her kids that their well-being is whats most important. Instead of working to give them more stuff, she gave them more time instead.
This de-emphasizing of stuff is another hallmark of Drehers Crunchy Cons. Its not because they reject capitalism or seek to appear holier-than-thou. Its because they understand the importance of postponing gratification in building character. They know that people accustomed to satisfying every material want are not likely to exercise restraint in any area of their lives.
This emphasis on restraint cuts across the grain of a culture where people are taught to regard anything that stands between them and their desires as a kind of tyranny. So it comes as no surprise that most of Drehers crunchy cons are Christians.
Thats because Christians understandor should, at leasthow pervasive what writer Dan Knauss calls the porno-culture is. This pervasiveness is why protecting our kids requires diligence and commitment. Drehers crunchy conservativesmostly crunchy Christiansare reminders of what the apostle Peter meant when he called followers of Christ a peculiar people. And its why these hip homeschooling mamas and right-wing nature lovers are worthy of our respect, no matter what they wear on their feet or how much granola they eat.
Home schooled kids will be running the country in 20 years. Count on it.
There are links to further information at the source document.
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I know people like this through Church connections. The ones I know aren't hard-core conservatives--for example, welfare doesn't frost their buns nearly as badly as it does mine--but they do believe in giving generously, and don't believe in giving away other people's money. Similarly, they believe in being "good stewards" of the planet, but they don't go in for Greenpeace. They don't believe in adultery, but they also don't believe in stoning. "Conservatives in birks" is not a bad description of these folks.
Disclaimer: I own a pair of cork sandals, but they aren't birks. I don't wear them, though, because sandals seem to promote stinky feet like crazy.
There are many ways to reject mass-market, no-brain popular culture.
See you at the chamber music recital...
"...if youre like me, youd probably think, well, there goes a lefty, or a liberal, or maybe an aging hippie.."
I guess I'm not like him.
Actually, I'd be resisting the urge to punch that hippy filth in the face as hard as I could. That kind of dicispline requires alot of concentration, and would be all I was thinking about.
Own any Earth Shoes ?
What makes you think these people have HBO?
I'm seeing the rise of the Limbaugh Babies now! And loving every minute of it. My out-of-college kids are probably a little more conservative than my hubby and I.....and that's going some!
Ahh, you ought to try Birkenstocks! They are really, REALLY comfortable! I'm not in that guy's book, but my family could be. Been home schooling for 16 years, we make do or do without. My kids are old enough to appreciate their upbringing and have thanked us for it.
My wife and I fit the description of "crunchy cons," and I guarantee you that we are *at least* as conservative as you or anyone on the list. As with any ideology, there are degrees of difference -- I'm sure you're right about the people you know, I just didn't want you to think that we are all conservative-light.
I second that...conservation is conservative.
gun-loving organic farmers, and right-wing nature lovers.
You rang? LOL!
Please add me to your ping list, Mr. Silverback. :)
Some schools of conservatism (such as the European kind) have always had a deep distrust of "alienation from nature." Unfortunately, they also tend to interpet such alienation as Jewish (some idiots even claim that Jews have never practiced agriculture).
It always burns my biscuits when conservatives imply that nature is "the enemy" and that only man was created by G-d. Who created nature . . . the Devil?
I resemble that remark! ;o)
I believe you. I was only referring to those acquaintances of mine; they're conservative enough to disapprove of welfare queens, but they're rather bemused at how spitting angry I can get about such things.
I just didn't want you to think that we are all conservative-light.
Fair enough. I think the religious angle plays an important role. It seems to make them reluctant to take the revolutionary viewpoint, even though it's also what makes them disapprove of the status quo.
Nothing wrong with any of that, is there?
Then you're prolly may favorite kind of people. Even if I'm not much of a sandal-wearer myself, they do seem to be the funnest people to hang around with--except that the liberal ones can be so tiresome.
I have even joined the ranks of those in the Northeast who wear socks with their Birkie clogs. Hey, I'm a Southern gal by birth and my feets get COLD up here!
"You seem to have missed Mr. Colson's point. He notes that Crunchy Cons do NOT reject modern society as the liberal crunchy sort sometimes seems to want to do. They understand that God placed us on the earth to be stewards of His Creation. Crunchy Cons don't WORSHIP nature, but they do respect it. The article mentions that Crunchy Cons might DELAY purchasing things sometimes, or doing things they might otherwise want to do in favor of spending more time with their kids, e.g. homeschooling instead of Mom taking a job so the family can do more vacationing and buy more stuff...Nothing wrong with any of that, is there?"
Well said. *Applause* I'm glad to see that there are others like me out there. I'm as conservative as they come, but I also fit this "crunchy" stereotype to a "T".
Be sure to check the link to the article; there was some terrific reading referenced at the bottom. :)
I think you're missing something here; For 'crunchy cons'(I don't like the name), loving nature is personal. For liberal tree-huggers, it's a political ideology and weapon. We discourage materialism in our own houses, but a liberal will tax you for your 'luxury' items.
The older I get the more I appreciate comfortable shoes...even if they do cost a bit more than my WalMart sandals. I don't homeschool, but have considered doing so and it is still an alternative. We support our local animal shelters, yet not PETA. I choose to not feed my family veal, yet don't tackle others in the grocery store who do. I support truthful drug education for your youth, yet do not support the current War on Drugs. I still feel that many of societies ills come from the demise of traditional family values.
Some conservatives have called me a flake. Frosted, corn or crunchy I don't know.
Whoops, you lost me there, sorry. If it's cold enough for socks, I say hang up the clogs. If you're in connecticut, the approved winter-wear for girls is jodhpurs.
I like 'conservationist' better. The dictionary definition of it is "one who practices conservation of natural resources", as opposed to Environmentalist, which is "Advocacy for or work toward protecting the natural environment from destruction or pollution."
Conservationists try to change their own behavior, Environmentalists try to change everyone else's.
Anyone who is honest and thinks for himself will be a maverick of some kind.
This is one of the things that make Leftists so insufferably boring: They cannot think for themselves. They are slaves to appearances, fashion, and groupthink. And they cannot be honest. If they were truthful and capable of original thinking they wouldn't be Leftists in the first place.
I do not like labels and categories--including "crunchy conservative." In fact, I do not consider myself to be "conservative". I am myself; that's it.
I love my Birkenstock sandals. I like granola but do not make my own. My wife and I are both strict vegetarians. Neither of us is a Leftist. We are both liberal. (Note tagline.)
I have an arsenal of guns, and I know how to use them. However, I hate hunting. We do not allow it on our property. My lawn is a mess because of the wild animals, but I'd rather have them--and watch them enjoying life--than have a pretty lawn.
My wife and I live in The Middle of Nowhere. And do we love it! Yesssssssssss! No neighbors. Pristine beauty everywhere. No noise. Yet windows on the world everywhere, including the internet and access to travel.
Yes. The pornographic culture that surrounds us is corrosive, but we and our children have successfully protected ourselves from it. The world around us is also filled with wonderful, wholesome, loveable people, full of beauty and intelligence and ideas and education, and our lives are filled with these people.
As for marriage and family: I have been married to the same beautiful, brilliant, wholesome, wonderful woman (advanced degrees, Phi Beta Kappa, et al.!) for 45 years! I'm the only man who has ever made love to her.
Each of my children has been through college three times. One's a successful engineer, in Mensa. One's a physician. All are Republicans!
I walked away from a prestigious job--and 6 million dollars worth of contracts--back in the early '90s when $6,000,000 was serious money. I have never regretted it.
I sent my children to private schools because the public schools were a mess. I didn't like it. I prefer public schools. My wife and I went to them. It was an excellent education in life--being thrown at random with all the people in the community around you. I helps build character. It also shows you what the world is like. I should have sent my children to public schools. I wish I had, but they turned out very well just the same.
I came from a poor family, worked my way through college, earned every penny I have. My wife was from a wealthy family, but we lived on what I could earn, slept on a box springs supported by concrete blocks, at on a card table, cooked on a hotplate. I payed for four years of college for my wife (her parents were dysfunctional).
I also paid for all my children's education, and I set up a college scholarship program for the indigent and sent I-don't-know-how-many people to college.
Because my mother had to drop out of college after her freshman year (her debonaire and well educated father was a horrible alcoholic), I got her though college too. She paid for it, but I enrolled with her, studied with her every night, and, dispite her lack of self-confidence, got her through the most difficult of courses, and she graduated!
Because I earned plenty of money, I gave my children everything and anything they wanted--expensive trips, gadgets, clothes, cars--you name it! It had a wonderful effect on them. You cannot overindulge a child too much IF you also instill good values, a strong sense of self-worth, and--above all--love them.
My children are the opposite of materialistic! They are not in the least interested in having "stuff". They are fascinated by things of the mind, love, wholesome relationships--all the things that my wife and I value.
However I am definitely a capitalist!
And I am definitely a Christian!
As far as the environment goes-- We have all been committed to protecting the environment for a long, long time. We all recycle regularly. Protect animals and the forests. Never pollute.
For a long time, my wife and I were enthusiastic about the "environmentalist movement". However, when I realized just what this is all about I recoiled in disgust.
I have never seen a more odious gang of sadistic bullies in one group as I have seen in the "environmentalist movement".
NEVER give one penny to an "environmentalist charity"!
This is the best rule of thumb: If the "environmentalists" are for it, oppose it; if they are against it, support it.
Crunchy cons ping!
Will there be a civil war between Crunchy Cons and South Park Republicans?
Crunchy cons ping!
You should send the story idea to SP!
Yep that's me! :-)
You have a problem with people not wanting to kill themselves striving to keep up with the Joneses? Most of the folks this article is about are simply tired of the rat race and chose to live a much simpler lifestyle. They are deeply convicted about raising their children with their values and making sure that they will be self sufficient leaders for their generation.
They don't want to infringe on anyone else's rights to live as they desire but they do want to be the best steward of all that has been entrusted to them, that is their family, health and finances.
Besides a lot of those crunchy cons have eschewed the tv altogether and make their children read or if old enough work doing chores, a job, or some other creative enterprise in their free time. Slouching in front of the tv is usually not an option.
This may interest you.
Thanks for the ping, Pyro! And SB, what a great manifesto! In fact, all the comments on this thread are terrific (makes me proud to be a FReeper bump).
Well said! While I don't like the name either, at least conservatives are debating ideas and ideology instead of following like sheep in that other party.
I had a cute line from a cartoon that I paraphrased to use as a tag, but it was too long. . .
"At first I became a vegetarian for health reasons, then I remained one for ethical reasons; now I am one just to tick people off" (LOL!)
I do believe Christians should generally have a stronger propensity toward a more modest lifestyle. Conservatism, conservation, and Christianity naturally align toward the "crunchy con" mentality.
Thanks for the ping!
FYI, some of us aging hippie types are actually undercover. Which is kind of cool when a real relic starts talking to you because he thinks you're "one of them" and you get an open platform to rant. ;^)
Ha, well I've never met one but I bet that would be fun to see.
For example, a majority of home-schoolers are conservative. But most have given up income and "stuff" to pursue something they believe is more important.
There is also a species of conservative I find puzzling and I'm sure others do as well. These are the conservatives who not only want to use natural resources for legitimate reasons, but only seem happy if resources are extracted with as much waste and destruction as possible. I'm talking about those who not only want to cut down the forest because human beings need wood, but want to cut down forests because they seem to get a kick out of it. A lot of these conservatives also seem offended by those who don't use every waking moment making money in order to buy "the latest version of the latest version". They seem to think of that as letting down the capitalism team.
I'm not sure how being smart and careful in using resources was ever disassociated with conservatism. It used to be a core value of conservatism.
I'm going for the most conservative on this thread. (Qualifications provided upon request)
And I recently joined "Smart Growth", I walk to work, walk to church, and even tolerate a few homosexuals that I know.
Almost forgot: I have planted over 17,000 trees, and about 24 acres of native prairie.
I would have a go; uh, what the definition of "conservative?"
I confess to being clueless these days.
Long-time member of and chapter leader in The John Birch Society. Now that will kill this thread, it is so conservative. Happens every time.
I believe being a *Conservative* has to do with a belief and lifestyle honoring GOD, Country and values that would be a one man one woman marraige, prayer in schools, stop abortion on demand, saluting the flag, that being said everyone has a different view on foods, drugs, discipline and health methods which is neither liberal or conservative.