When I was young, the left seemed “cooler” than the right, and really only for one reason: free speech and freedom of the press, which were the quintessential “liberal” positions. As I grew older, I realized why they seemed cool. The cool stance is unflappability, the ability to maintain composure and calm and not freak out when some danger appeared on the scene. Coolness was a presentation of strength — not by violence but by resisting the flight-or-fight response.

This is the essence of coolness. An inner strength, or calm. While maintaining control.

The cool is an evolutionary advantaged trait, like peacock feathers and big antlers, but, unlike those antlers, it isn’t a matter of violence. The strength is implied. It is thus more sophisticated.

The reason I disliked the right was its tendency to freak out.

Nowadays, though, it is on the left where the cool stance is most rare. Leftists — and center-left progressives and mere centrists — are the ones least likely to maintain their cool upon being challenged. This makes them conservatives in temper.

The cool stance was not well understood by my teen compeers, way back when, of course. Too often “the hot” and “the mellow” were confused with “the cool,” which merely became a cheap synonym for teens’ cultural aesthetic preferences. You probably can guess that I was never really at one with teenage culture when I was a teen, despite my admiration for the cool stance. In part this was because, for the American Graffiti generation, and the next few, the cool became largely a matter of drug culture, which I always thought was a particularly stupid culture — and still do. I don’t much care about drugs. Other than that they should be legal but users held responsible for their usage. So my stance on drugs was cool, but theirs was (even if dubbed cool) actually hot.

Today, conservatives still have trouble advancing the cool stance of freedom, in part because they tend to cold or hot: cold rejection or hot opposition.

Of the political positions, libertarianism would be the cool one, but since most libertarians lean towards autism, they wouldn’t know how to act cool even after a James Dean/Humphrey Bogart binge weekend.

Of course, there is a time for each stance: the hot, the warm, the cool, the cold, St. John’s letters to the churches notwithstanding. But the cool is most likely to stand in for an advanced civilization, for what a civilization — as opposed to tribal life — requires is a rejection of flight-or-fight as the go-to reaction to the unknown or to danger.

And truly liberal free speech and free press principles remain cool. It’s just that progressives are no longer liberal in the least . . . and thus not the least bit cool.