Why I’m a Politically Conservative Artist
July 17, 2010
I got this fan letter from a reader where he wonders why I’m a Conservative:
I’ve been a fan for awhile now. I played Earthworm Jim as a kid and bought Creature Tech when it first came out. I love your style: you, Shrab, Edlund, and Allred are my favorite. However something perplexes me… I guess I’m a pretty liberal person, I don’t mind your religious views in your comics in fact I think there subtle and great,
… if you like the religious views in my comics, then you can’t be that liberal. But that’s for another day.
but your views on politics… I’m surrounded by liberal people and was wondering if you could tell me why it is exactly your a conservative? I know politics has nothing to do with art and Imagination, but I can’t help feel confused by the fact that one of my biggest influences is a conservative. So clue me in if I’m missing something.
If it helps at all, most of my biggest influences are liberal, so we’re both coming from a pretty cool place.
There are certain aspects of conservatism that directly effect and interact with the arts. It’s an old feminist wive’s tale that somehow the GOP is void of creativity. There are a lot of reasons why conservative people don’t participate in the arts, but none of them are because we’re less artistic, or have a harder time with being creative. But that’s another rabbit trail I won’t go down here either because I want to give you the reasons why I’m politically this way.
The word Conservative is the most important and obvious part, it implies that there is something so worth keeping that I want to identify myself with its preservation over discovering something new to progress to. One also has to believe that we are generally trapped in some form of slavery that we need to liberate ourselves from to identify with a progressive, anti-conservative, political world view. This gets philosophical so forgive me for getting into the deep sauce, but liberals don’t generally believe in ideals, while conservatives do.
Materialism is the view that we are only made up of materials. Particles, molecules, matter in motion, it has a lot of names but leftists like Marx did not believe in an immaterial world. Things that are immaterial can be thought of as states of being, love, values, souls, supernatural beings and ideals. It’s not that Marx didn’t believe in love, it’s that the Materialist will undermine the idea by claiming it’s just an illusion presented by the gear-like workings of the materials. This hideous philosophy found a foot-hold in Modernist thinkers and changed the good form of Liberalism held by greats like JFK.
I consider myself a classic liberal, which has almost nothing to do with modern liberalism. Likewise, a modern liberal can’t be a completely saturated liberal because they at the very least try to conserve their own liberal philosophy. Is anyone trying to progress beyond Green Environmentalism? No, my political opposition wants to conserve it, even proselytize others to that brand new mandate.
An ideal is an invisible form that we hold as a goal. Plato believed in ideals because he could think of a perfect circle, though he knew there was never a truly perfect circle constructed in the materials. How can we all know what a perfect circle is if it doesn’t even exist? Further, why is it that though a perfect circle is an immaterial ideal do we all know to judge imperfect circles? If there were no ideals we wouldn’t even know to challenge the imperfect.
A liberal finds the freedom from ideals, traditions and norms true progress because their philosophy tells them these things don’t really even exist, and were probably only forced on the people by some patriarchal oppressive rich guy who wanted to control the wombs of womyn. So my first and most germane reason for being a conservative is that I believe in ideals, and think they’re worth conserving. There’s a great deal more right about America that we risk losing than we would gain by throwing them off to find a utopian heaven on earth.
You’ll see these two opinions on ideals in the different ways we think of the Constitution. One side sees it as a miraculous document that reflects self-evident, absolute truths about immaterial ideals like being created, the right to the pursuit of happiness and having the freedom to own a big fat gun. The other side sees it as an old fashioned document that prevents the benefit of cultural evolution so it is declared “a living breathing document”. Often, our one-time support of slavery by our highest courts is sited as proof that our morals and ideals evolve, but slavery is a new idea, and it was predated by man’s right to freedom. When the Rev. Martin Luther King sought Civil Rights for the black man he didn’t claim a new idea, he claimed the black man was promised freedom by the very words of the Constitution. Treat that document as a living, breathing thing at our peril.
I see the last election as exhibit A in this way of thinking. We were in the second term of a president that pop-culture sought to discredit and destroy, our prosperity came easy, and a spoiled nation hoped for change. But when the new guys took over we’re watching how good we had it. This isn’t about bashing Obama, but he ran on how crappy our country was and he sought to fundamentally change America. While no lefty loves unemployment, all of them agree that we should raise taxes on the rich, give every person cradle to grave healthcare and recover our reputation with the world’s left. They champion only green jobs, penalize coal and oil drilling without taking into account what we could lose by implementing these plans. Their first priority is progress and liberating the country from the old fashioned that shackle our person.
My parents handed me a freer country than I will hand to my children, and Bush handed Obama a freer country than will be handed to the next guy. The left has little interest in conserving freedom, they liberate by regulation, redistribution and forced equality of outcome. These principles go against my political leanings, so I vote Republican. Now you have lots of liberal friends, so you probably hear that we want to oppress black people, take away a woman’s freedom, destroy the middle class and create a theocracy. Most liberals aren’t exposed to true conservative ideals, but most conservatives get indoctrinated by liberal philosophy in entertainment, mainstream media and our universities. In L.A. I even get it from my church.
As an artist, I make my living off of Intellectual Property rights, and the libs regularly seek to undermine and reduce IP rights, while the GOP seek to protect and conserve them. The idea that if you are a worker who dies and you can pass on your money or property to your offspring is radical enough, and a complete assault to Materialist philosophy because their thinking doesn’t even embrace immaterial structures like property ownership, much less intellectual (immaterial) property ownership. I should be able to pass on the Earthworm Jim property to my family in the same way I could pass on a bar of gold to them. I made it, it’s mine so I should be able to do what I want with it.
My dad once gave me a car. I was thrilled to get a car, but I suspected that he might be trying to keep parental control over me by giving me something I wanted. So I said that I would only take the car if I was free to sell it, wreck it, or keep it. He wasn’t endorsing my ability to crash a car, but he gave me the keys without reservation and said it was mine to do with however I wanted. I knew at that point that the car was really mine. It was my responsibility, and that is true freedom and true trust of the individual. The GOP trusts us with a gun. It says a lot about our opposing visions of freedom.
Finally, I’m a commercial artist. That is, I make money off much of my art. I still draw in my sketchbooks for pleasure or other artistic reasons, but I like to get paid to draw so I don’t have to dig ditches or pour cement and make an honest living. That makes my art a job and the political party that is friendliest to job creators is the one that gets my loyalty because they’re going to allow me to do what I love for income. Artists aren’t hired by poor people, and commercial artists are generally hired by the richest businessmen of all.
Go to your local fine art gallery and look at those price tags. People who work for the census, ACORN and struggling college students don’t buy those paintings and installations. The arts always enjoy the biggest expansion, stability and prosperity in a good economy. When companies get hit by financial hardship, the art department is usually the second to go right after the in house masseuse. A rip roaring richie-rich economy employs all of my art friends, who are all liberal and demonize the rich. They regularly vote for the very people who actually brag about how they’re going to hurt their employer. No matter if you’re an animator, a painter, a director or a sculptor there’s a good chance the only guy who will hire you makes at least 250k a year… the bracket this administration wants you to feel good about taxing at five times the rate of the previous administration.
The next time you hear President Obama talk about how the GOP is in bed with Wall Street instead of main street I want you to think about your dream employer… Paramount, Dreamworks, Disney, Nickelodeon, Marvel, Pixar, Google, Apple, and look at their ticker on the stock market. That’s right, every entertainment job is tied to some giant company that trades on Wall Street and Obama just announced that the GOP is on the side of these corporations. I didn’t say it, he said it. I like it when my art buddies get paid boat loads of money to draw. Don’t you? Well, they aren’t hired by solar power welfare jobs.
But corporations are evil! Let’s assume for a second that they really are evil. If you are an evil executive making 50 million dollars a year and the government taxed and punished you so you only made a paltry 25 million a year, do you think that an evil guy is going to just take the hit? He’s going to cut enough employees to make up the difference. He’s evil, remember? And unlike the last few administrations, corporations are really good at cutting spending to survive. The only way you can get a corporate executive to create more jobs is by rewarding him with more money for needing expansion. You will never be able to tax him into being a charitable citizen.
Liberals have some tough decisions to make. They need to decide if they hate high unemployment numbers more than they hate the rich. We have another name for the rich, they’re called employers of every artist I know.
I could give you a lot more reasons for why I’m conservative but I couldn’t give one for being liberal. The more I experience in life and study about politics and even art the more conservative I get. The great minds of the past grasped profoundly good, freedom expanding ideas, and they have more goods than what the new minds keep claiming are the big new way of thinking.
If you ever choose to study the past, you will find that our best ideas we hold today are old ones not new ones. When you choose to conserve these ideas you’ll take a step toward being a conservative. It’s not so strange the more you think about it.
Sorry for the lack of brevity. There’s probably a real good chance I didn’t even answer your question. With apologies.