Is it possible? Can you change a hardline conservative’s mind on any key issue? I say that in most cases, no, you can’t. On some very fundamental levels (no pun intended), liberals and conservatives are extremely different types of people. Studies have shown that things like childhood intelligence and brain chemistry can play a role in your later political thoughts, so there is a good possibility that political ideologies are just symptoms of deeper truths about yourself.
Sometimes it’s tradition. In the case of my grandfather (a man whom I deeply love and respect), it’s tradition and religion. Yes, he’s against abortion. No, he doesn’t think homosexuals are “normal” or “natural.” His wife kept the house his entire life, his mom did the same, and that’s the way he feels things should be.
Does that make a bad person? Of course not. This is the man that taught me how to treat women (which has led to an interesting blend of old-fashioned and chivalric concepts being crossed with my progressive general attitude), to be honest and to always pride myself in my work. His mind, though, will not be changed, and he uses “Democrat” almost as a slur. He knows that Fox lies, but watches anyway because, “it’s the only Republican news station.”
Conservatives aren’t hateful people. They just don’t think the same way liberals do. For example, when I hear a claim, I immediately analyze several things about it. Why is the person or organization making this claim? Do they have something to gain or lose? What is the motivation? What is their trustworthiness? Is there corroboration? Is there numbers to look at? Can I replicate their process and get the same result? That’s my assessment process when determining whether to take information in as being true or questionable. Conservatives, on the other hand, have a generally much higher (and in my humble opinion, somewhat unhealthy) respect for authority. When they receive information, many times the only question asked is, “Who is the person/organization making the claim?” If it is someone they have determine to have authority over them — a parent, other family member, church, pastor/preacher/whatever your denomination calls it — they seem to believe it without question and defend it to the point of insanity.
That seems crazy to me, and possibly to you as well. How can you blindly accept something like that? Well, we have to use empathy here, and remember that our way of things seems just as alien and wrong to them.
That’s not to say that I think that conservative views are legitimate. Accepting authority alone as a source of information is deeply fallacious (that’s literally philosophy 101) and simply not the right way to do things. It’s lazy, really.
Conservatives have a near-obsession with tradition. Unfortunately, not everything in the past is all that great for most people; you’ll notice that conservatives recognize this with their demographics. The driver of the Republican Party is fear. That’s not just because it was suitable in their campaigns over the last 30 years. It’s also because conservatives will always have fear, because they view change as a thing to be feared. Not all changes are necessarily good, but it is necessary as a people and a nation to continuously evaluate and readjust ourselves as a culture.
Can an individual conservative be convinced and have their mind changed? It’s not likely. Yes, possible, especially the younger they are. Yet it’s unlikely. Can conservatism, as a movement/organization, be healed? Can we make progression?
Well, progress is inevitable…but so are those fighting it.