Perspectives: America’s most dangerous addiction

OPINION – My name is Bryan, and I’m a recovering neoconservative.

It took many years for me to recognize that I had a thinking problem that caused me to equate raw power with national greatness. The current agitation for war with Iran reminds me that I’m not the only one who has struggled with might-makes-right thinking.

Perhaps it’s time to create a 12-step program for the purpose of helping us break our national addiction to neoconservatism and to stop supporting its destructive policies at home and abroad.

Here are some of the more common symptoms of neoconservative thinking. Do you glorify every use of U.S. military force, big or small, as proof of our national righteousness and strength? Without knowing anything other than what you’ve been told by the mass media, do you eagerly testify to the intractable wickedness of whoever is on the receiving end of that force?

Do you proudly refer to the president as “our Commander-in-Chief” even though you’ve never worn our nations uniform? Do you tend to speak in terms of “we” and “us” when it comes to foreign policy decisions that you had nothing to do with either making or implementing?

If “yes”  was the answer any of these questions, it’s likely that you’ve been neoconned too.

Those who cling most tenaciously to this power hungry ideology are often living lives wrapped in a cheap, faux patriotism that requires zero substantive personal action. They may experience a sense of purpose and, more importantly, a sense of supremacy over all those bleeding-heart nitwits who just don’t get it.

Neoconservatives tend to keep a label maker handy to put dissenters in their place by pigeonholing them as “America-haters” or “appeasers.”

Neoconservative thinking is driven by an aggressive, chest-beating, nationalistic sense of superiority to all other nations based on an adoration of the symbols of the power of the state. It bears no resemblance to the reverent humility of those whose love for country stems from devotion to its people, traditions, and principles. It’s a type of thinking where others may be viewed as mere insects whose deaths make our lives better.

I’m not proud to admit that I once fully embraced such thinking.  I built a strong and enthusiastic talk radio audience by parroting the same neoconservative talking points heard daily by millions of listeners across the country. It’s no accident that neoconservativism currently dominates virtually every corner of talk radio. It is a proven, successful formula for generating an audience.

It was the unabashed fear mongering, shameless pack mentality and ultimate abandonment of Constitutional principles during the lead up to the Iraq war that finally opened my eyes to where my neoconservative thinking was leading me. But the real eye opener came when I openly questioned the wisdom of the Iraq war on the air.

My neoconservative peers were obviously less than understanding. My listeners denounced me both on the air and in letters to the editor in the local paper. Every day my show was filled with confrontation from angry callers who gleefully labeled me as “anti-American” and “an appeaser.” It was a supremely humbling experience, to put it mildly.

But it was also a necessary way of hitting rock bottom and realizing that some necessary changes were in order. This recognition ultimately spurred a personal desire to re-examine my thinking. I eventually chose to alter the course of my life and engage in genuine, in-depth scholarship regarding the principles of good government and the cause of liberty.

My studies led me to examine not only what our Founders knew about good government but also how their thinking was influenced by great philosophers like Aristotle, Locke, Hume, and Montesquieu. The words of these great thinkers still have great relevance in our day for those who aren’t busy shouting bumper sticker slogans.

It didn’t take long to learn that regurgitated talking points are no substitute for thoughtful examination of the actual words of those who framed our system of limited government.

The Founders understood that the state itself too often becomes an enemy of freedom, particularly by exploiting the patriotism of the citizenry.  Once we’ve internalized this insight, it is much easier to turn away from the mindset that tends to treat others as mere objects to be confronted and controlled, and to instead focus on moving the cause of liberty.

In 12-step programs, participants are encouraged to seek strength from a higher power.  This is significant in that not only our rights but our true individual and national strength also originate from a Higher Power.

I know there are others out there who are beginning to recognize that neoconservative statism is exactly as destructive to freedom as the socialist variety of statism. I invite all who love this nation and are ready to make meaningful change to please join me on the road to recovery.

Bryan Hyde is a news commentator and co-host of the Perspectives morning show on Fox News 1450 AM 93.1 FM. The opinions stated in this article are his and not representative of St. George News.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @youcancallmebry

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2012, all rights reserved.

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  • deborah crowe August 6, 2012 at 9:02 am

    Well, I for one having my own mind (which you so elegantly have spoken here-your own mind) do feel, that the core of our nation IS being rocked by unGodliness and that in time.. we will pay for that.. I do however feel that WAR WAR WAR WAR is insane too… I do feel we need to keep our military superiority and presence STRONG in all areas of the world.. so as to press on the dominance of FREEDOM FOR ALL PEOPLE>.. I feel it is our Job to make sure, woman and children and all races, all over the world have freedoms that many of them feel they must give up in the name of some strange religion. (i know i’m going over the edge).. anyways.. but you are right.. I do admit it.. I was once a huge Rush LImabaugh fanatic too.. then one day I too woke up and realized if someone asked me what I thought about this or that politically, I would “flashback to what I may have seen on Fox News”.. hm… so glad I too woke up.. CNN sometimes has unbiased good stories too.. sometimes.. Political Correctness is destroying our nation…

  • Doug Chambers August 6, 2012 at 10:33 am

    Bryan says he was a “neo-con,” which I kinda doubt, after listening to him over the years. It makes for a powerful argument to claim you have been converted to becoming reasonable. I couldn’t get through his whole piece. Bryan has just become, as always, a contrarian. My dad used to say, “yeah, you can do that, but if it goes bad, I told you so.” That way he could alway say he was right in the first place. Bryan’s rules to tell if you are a neo-con, are not mutually exclusive. When he tries to make up a rule that someone is a neo-con when he automatically take pride in all of USA’s miliatary endeavors/actions is like a multiple test question that says “all” or “everything” or “never”, which is a dead giveaway for a false answer, just as his lame labels, or rules to label, are. Come on Bryan, you’re just a contrarian, who likes to look down you erudite nose at the ignorant masses you speak to. Our country’s armed forces has been the greatest force for good in history. We (sorry for using we, which I’m not allowed to do by you stupid rules), have freed people from tyranny more than any other nation in history. I’m proud of a country that does that. And, I’m going to refer to our President (even Obama) as “our Commander-in -Chief” if I want to, and I don’t need you to approve it. He’s a civilian president, as I am. That is one of the checks and balances writen into our Constitution. That doesn’t make me a neo-con, except in your eyes. As for your label of “America-haters” or “appeasers”, well, do you deny that there are people who have a self-loathing of America? That there are “Neville Chamberlains” out there, who would go down like the German Jews without raising a hand in defense of themselves or others. So, allow Iran to get their atom bomb and keep trying to negotiate them out of it, but you must understand their mind-set, which is to initiate the “Ilamic Caliphate” and bring about their dominion over the entire world. They see it as honorable and righteous to destroy themselves in the effort to attain this and that Allah will reward them mightily if the die doing so. Negotiate that! Well, Mr. Truth Seeker, studier, father of six, and pot-stirrer, I too have six children, have studied and seek truth, stick that in you pot and stir it. By the way, I’m no neo-con, even by your standards, but neither am I a bitter man who hit bottom by losing his audience. Peace through stength is not allways wrong.

    • deborah crowe August 6, 2012 at 2:26 pm

      Actually you make a good point about something.. how come media doesn’t address this issue with an entire civilization stating they want us obliviated off the planet?

    • Dave Stott August 6, 2012 at 3:23 pm

      Seems to me your argument amounts to nothing more than name calling. If you have nothing of substance to say, why bother? I see nothing in the man’s article about hatred of the military or the incredible accomplishments of US fighting men throughout history. Nor do I see anything in his article suggesting we should be bullied by Middle Eastern terror groups. He’s simply saying you can’t give the military-industrial complex (President Eisenhower’s term) a blank check and that doing so runs counter to the advice and counsel of the Founding Fathers. It’s really your statement that comes across as a bitter rant.

    • Dsull August 6, 2012 at 7:16 pm

      I find it funny not supporting any one group. I get cast as a Liberal among my conservative friends and cast as a conservative among my liberal friends. I find many things have a solution in the center. Now most people active in politics would disagree, forcing the spectrum one way or the other. No side is completely right on any topic.

      With that being said, I find strange that as a “Seeker of Truth” as you say, would, rather than read what is written and find some nugget of wisdom, you seek out and find everything you can possibly disagree on. A well written article that focused on people on both sides being overly sensitive and obstructive against anyone who believes differently.

      My Favorite line:
      “I know there are others out there who are beginning to recognize that neoconservative statism is exactly as destructive to freedom as the socialist variety of statism. I invite all who love this nation and are ready to make meaningful change to please join me on the road to recovery.”
      People like you are what is wrong with politics today. “Seekers of truth” like you need to listen more and talk less. He may be wrong but you just look like a “Kool-Aid” drinker when you spit venom and bile out at people. Nothing will ever be solved until both parties can remember what it’s like to compromise with each other. Not the new compromise of you seceding your cause to mine.

      Reagan and Clinton both knew how to compromise. You Hardcore party liners have glossed that over on both sides.

  • Adam August 6, 2012 at 10:40 am

    I didn’t know this website was full of Ron Paul supporters I thought this website was for St George news only not for political use if this website is being used as a tool for the Ron Paul supporters then I want nothing to do with it and no I’m not a democrat I’m a conservative who loves AMERICA!!!!

  • Murat August 6, 2012 at 10:59 am

    Some days I support love, peace and understanding. Other day’s I’m all for genocide and all out war on anything un-American, including Albania. It just depends on things like my mood and how my last meal is affecting my GI tract. Things of that nature.

  • RPetersen August 6, 2012 at 11:38 am

    Great Article Bryan. I to went through this same transition. Its difficult to realize things you have believed and parroted to friends and family ended up being completely ignorant and asinine. Sadly many people will never make this transition, for stockholm syndrome and its attendant worship of the state is too deeply ingrained by our political masters via mandatory indoctrination k-12. All we can do is keep preaching peace to those who love war and violence, keep preaching tolerance to those with innocent blood on their hands, and keep pointing out their bankrupted lack of morality even as they demand our heads. Abolitionists were hated, and those who question the state and its endless violence are no less hated today. Remember, Statism is Slavery. Let the Abolition of slavery continue unabated until we are finally free. Fear not the slave on slave violence, for they know not what they do, and only when its their turn on the chopping block will they understand. In the mean time, there are those who may listen, though they be few and far between. I was one such, and you were a small part of that transition back when you first started questioning the status quo. Thanks for that, and keep on speaking the truth, learning the truth, and leave no prior conception or belief unturned or unexamined, only this way can we have full integrity to the pursuit of truth.

  • ron August 6, 2012 at 2:31 pm

    One of the best articles I’ve yet read here. I admire your commitment to independent thought, Brian. I don’t always buy your arguments, but this time, I’m right there with you.

  • Libertario August 7, 2012 at 6:56 am


    On your path to exploring new perspectives, I ask you to invite Jake Shannon — another Utah radio host, author of the book “Tea-O-Conned,” and current chairman of the Utah Libertarian Party — and Libertarian presidential candidate and former two-term governor of New Mexico Gary Johnson — whose campaign headquarters is located in Salt Lake City — onto your program to discuss the issues of the day with your listeners and you.

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