Conservatives see liberals as misguided;
liberals see conservatives as evil
— by Christopher Cook —
originally published on WesternFreePress.com, October, 2014*
Are you a conservative, a libertarian, or a Republican? Have you ever been verbally assaulted by someone on the political left with a ferocity you didn’t quite understand? Have you seen it happen to friends and colleagues, or watched in horror as the media establishment does it to a public figure?
Of course you have. At some point or other, nearly everyone on the political right has witnessed or been the victim of an attack designed not to elucidate facts, but rather to paint him or her as a villain.
My attention was recently drawn to a typical such calumny from a Facebook exchange:
Republicans hate anything that isn’t white, wealthy, and christian at least in appearance. They hate the poor, women, and minorities. They hate science and don’t believe that the global warming we clearly are experiencing is man made. They hate any government programs that help the poor and minorities, and the (sic) particularly despise immigrants, particularly the illegal kind. They love programs that line the pockets of oil companies, mining companies, and are willing to export jobs with wild abandon.
They hate public education, and they despise public schools and the public school teachers and public university professors. And since the (sic) do not respect the market place of ideas, they hate tenure (that gives teachers academic freedom) because it prevents them from firing teachers who are Democrats and who might infect some student with their liberal ideas. They want insurance companies to make a maximum of profit, and are perfectly willing for the health insurance companies to kill people by refusing service to anyone that might cost them a buck more than the median expense. They don’t care about clean food because it might cost the food corporation a little money, and they don’t care about clean water because cleaning up the waste will cost their precious corporate persons a little money.
This is not a recitation of facts; it is a series of smears. It is the construction of a giant cartoonish super-villain, made of straw and woven together with calumny. The giant straw villain is then publicly burned, in a narcissistic orgy of self-adulation. Of course, the torches of the “best” people burn the brightest.
Another way of looking at it is this: It is the modern-day version of a witch trial. The charges are utterly farcical and cartoonish. “I saw her dancing with demons in the pale moonlight.” “She looked at me and I sneezed, and the next day, I had a terrible cold.” “She turned me into a newt.” But they are stated with great conviction and repeated incessantly, and they establish the unassailable collective will of which the accused has run afoul. The witch is made into the auslander, and the good people of the community show how “good” they are by shouting their accusations the loudest.
Either way, whether the wicker man or the witch, the effigy goes up in flames and the community is purged—for the moment—of its evil. Moral annulment now achieved, the villagers walk away feeling good about themselves. Feeling superior.
Facts are also unimportant in this perverse passion play. Like the slavering, semi-psychotic Facebook rant above, most such assaults aren’t a series of accusations backed up by facts, they are a series of character assassinations, most of which are contradicted by the facts.
The most salient example today is the charge that people of the right (conservatives, Republicans, libertarians, tea partiers) oppose Obama out of pure racism—simply because he is black. Though this charge is easily refuted—by common sense, widespread evidence, and actual studies—it is repeated incessantly by the media, the left’s foot-soldiers . . . even the president himself.
When actual studies are done (as opposed to just restating what the leftist imagines to be so as if it were actual fact), we learn that real racism is distributed fairly evenly among the population without regard to political affiliation. In 2008, a survey was done that showed similar numbers of Republicans (5.7) and Democrats (6.8) would not vote for a black presidential candidate. Such a question gives us one of the clearest possible tests of raw racism. A loaded question like, “Do you feel blacks receive too much welfare?” might confuse attitudes about race with attitudes about government welfare programs. But this gives us apples to apples: All things being equal, would you refuse to vote for someone solely because of race?
In the 2008 survey, Democrats were slightly (1.1%) more likely to show racist thinking than Republicans, though this is well within the margin of error. A similar study on senatorial candidates was far more damning to Democrats. Bottom line: there is little evidence that Republicans oppose Obama or any candidate on the basis of race to any greater degree than Democrats.
But this should be obvious based on other facts and indicators as well. Take Mia Love. If you are on the political left, you may not have heard of her, but she is a rising star on the right. She quotes Bastiat, she believes in core principles such as subsidiarity—she is dynamic, successful, and hits all the right notes. She is a black woman, and I have not met or heard of a single conservative, Republican, or tea partier who wouldn’t be delighted to support her. (Deep down, many of the left know this, which is why they have been so vicious to her.) I have worked alongside or come in contact with hundreds of activists and partisans on the political right over the last 15 years, and I cannot think of a single one who would not exult at a Mia Love victory. If she were elected president, I myself would do the happy dance on top of the tallest mountain in my area every November!
The reason is obvious: we agree ideologically. Race is unimportant. Barack Obama is, it can be fairly argued, further to the political left than any previous president. And people on the right oppose him so virulently for that very reason—not because of his race, but because of the huge ideological gulf that lies between. Imagine that.
The other painfully incessant canard is the notion that people on the right “hate the poor.” In fact, the evidence shows the opposite. Conservatives are more charitable than liberals by fairly significant margins, even when you adjust for a variety of factors. Rich, middle-class, and poor conservatives are all more charitable than their liberal counterparts. It’s not that conservatives are wealthier overall, either—liberal households are 6% wealthier on average. (I bet you never heard that little fact on MSNBC.) It is also not that conservatives are more religious: new data indicate that secular conservatives give more than secular liberals. These conservatives are voluntarily helping the poor with their own money, in greater numbers than their liberal counterparts in every cohort. Conservatism is a greater predictor of charity.
Leftists (they hardly deserve the term “liberal”), by contrast, are more “charitable” with other people’s money. Leftist A votes for Politician B to take money (by force) from Taxpayer C to give it to Recipient D. A and D give more support and power to B, who continues to take more and more from C, in a perverse and ever-increasing form of economic bondage. Then, A, B, and D get together and say that C hates the poor. Lather, rinse, repeat.
But we are getting dragged into the weeds here. We could go on and on refuting fact after fact, but the facts are unimportant. The leftist is creating a narrative. As a marketing guru will tell you, Facts tell, but stories sell. It’s a lesson the leftist has learned well.
Even more disturbing, in recent years, this method of “argumentation” has increasingly become the first tool pulled out of the toolbox. No longer does the leftist feel as compelled to make real arguments. All he needs to do now is shout “Racist!” or “War on Women!” and his job is done. He walks away feeling smugly satisfied of his own politically correct superiority, and the untrained observer is left addled at best, and possibly even swayed by the narrative.
So why they are so vicious? Why do people who self-describe as “compassionate” direct such vitriolic hate and assaults at their ideological opponents? How they can justify painting you as such a monster?
Simple: To them, you are a monster. You must be.
Reason #1: Utopianism
You’re in their way
Strip everything away, and the fundamental trait of all leftists is this: They believe that through the state, they can build paradise on earth. They believe that with enough tinkering, coercion, and rule by “experts,” they can eliminate all hard choices and competing goods, perfect human nature, and bring all good things to all people.
To someone of the political right—defined by our belief in human freedom, private solutions, and individual sovereignty—this is just the modern re-telling of the age-old story: that some men should rule over other men. Ancient despotism, monarchy, fascism, totalitarianism, modern progressivism—they’re all just different flavors, and different degrees of application, of the same basic philosophy. But the person on the left does not see it that way. He wants perfection. He believes it is possible. And by gum, he’s going to get it.
This utopian thinking quickly leads to an unavoidable conclusion, echoed from the French Revolution to Lenin and Stalin to Mao to the Progressives of the modern era: “On ne fait pas d’omelet sans casser des oeufs.” (You can’t make an omelet without breaking some eggs.) To the utopian statist, “process costs” are entirely acceptable. They are building paradise, after all.
That’s why you see so much more toleration by the left’s rank and file of corruption and bad behavior by their leaders. What’s a little lying here, a little corruption there? They are building paradise. What’s a little cheating in the face of all they intend to accomplish?
That is also why you see such a prevalence of cult-of-personality adulation for strong leaders. Strong leaders resolve contradictions and sweep away the opposition. Strong leaders have the will to get the job done. Strong leaders get the trains running on time. Next stop, paradise.
But most importantly . . . these utopians—both the leaders and the rank and file—are so convinced of the nobility of their intentions that they believe that anyone who stands in their way must, by definition, have evil intentions. After all, who but a monster would stand in the way of paradise? And what consideration do monsters deserve? Why none at all, of course—they’re monsters.
That is why they do not simply disagree with you. That is why they calumniate you and attribute the worst motives to you. That is why they hate you.
Reason #2: Fantasyland vs. Reality
The WORLD is in their way
The world refuses to conform to their utopian vision. The world isn’t the neat and tidy place they want it to be. They still hold onto the childlike belief that there can be goods with no tradeoffs, and this world of endless tradeoffs proves them wrong every day, mocking their childishness in the process. That makes them very angry.
Someone once said, “Conservatives believe what they see; liberals see what they believe.” Leftists hate you for the fact that you see the world as it is, rather than as it should be. You accept the facts of reality as they truly are, and you try to make the best of it. They believe that they can make reality conform to their vision of it. (That this effort always requires massive application of force against other human beings doesn’t bother them. It’s just another process cost.)
Your acceptance of reality as it is is pedestrian and troglodytic. Their vision of how reality should be makes them noble and romantic. They hate you for not living in the same fantasy land that they do. They hate you for recognizing that life is filled with tradeoffs. They don’t see the tradeoffs, so when you point them out, it’s as if you are the one that is making the tradeoff exist. La-La-La . . . I can’t hear you! Stop making bad things happen.
Your acceptance of reality makes them so angry, in fact, that they have convinced themselves that you must be suffering from some sort of psychological malady. Over the last century, dozens of self-reinforcing junk-science books and studies have been published labeling “conservatism” (once called “classical liberalism”) as a mental disorder. Like the mental patient permanently lost in a psychotic world of his own creation . . . he’s normal, it’s the rest of you who are nuts.
Reason #3: Preening Narcissism
They are beautiful, so you must be ugly
The ideas of the political left produce failure at best and misery, oppression, and democide at worst. In spite of this, I had long clung to the belief that at least people on the political left “mean well.”
But do they? Or do they simply want to feel as though they mean well?
Author Robert Bidinotto asks (and answers) the same question:
Have decades upon decades of liberal policy failures deterred liberals from being liberals? Have the trillions of dollars blown on welfare-state programs since the “New Deal” and the “War on Poverty” made a damned bit of difference in curing poverty? And has that failure convinced “progressives” that there is something fundamentally wrong in their worldview and approach? Have the horrendous historical consequences of appeasement policies stopped today’s politicians from appeasing international thugs and terrorists? No?
Then why does anyone assume that liberals gauge the value of their worldview by the standard of its PRACTICAL CONSEQUENCES?
Practical consequences are ALWAYS trumped by the advancement and protection of one’s core Narrative: the fairy tale that gives one’s life meaning, coherence, and moral justification. [ . . . ]
Doing that makes them feel good about themselves. And they would far rather feel good about themselves than actually achieve any of their stated practical objectives. It’s not about the objectives at all. It’s about THEM.
John Hawkins is just as unequivocal:
3) Liberals emphasize feeling superior, not superior results. Liberalism is all about appearances, not outcomes. What matters to liberals is how a program makes them FEEL about themselves, not whether it works or not. Thus a program like Headstart, which sounds good because it’s designed to help children read, makes liberals feel good about themselves, even though the program doesn’t work and wastes billions. A ban on DDT makes liberals feel good about themselves because they’re “protecting the environment” even though millions of people have died as a result. For liberals, it’s not what a program does in the real world; it’s about whether they feel better about themselves for supporting it.
If this is true, then for many, utopianism isn’t about what they think they can achieve, it’s about their own self-image.
So is it true?
The persistence of this vision in the face of centuries of evidence would seem to indicate that it may be. We know that maximizing human freedom is more moral and produces better results—the last two centuries have made that clear. And on the flip side, we know that maximizing government at the expense of the individual produces a parade of horribles. And yet, again and again, we are told that it simply wasn’t done correctly before, or by the right people.
Related Article: The 1623 Project: When Socialism Lost, and Free Markets Won
Mirror, mirror, on the wall, who’s the fairest of them all?
Why you are, my dear—you are so compassionate and fair and noble in every way.
The leftist looks at herself in the mirror and sees that she is one of those “right people,” because that is how she wants to see herself.
And if she is so beautiful and noble and fair . . . then how ugly you must be for standing in her way.
The leftist—the utopian, the statist—sees himself as on noble quest. He is the embodiment of everything good, simply because that is how he sees himself. How he wants to see himself. In order to maintain this self-image, he must make you the embodiment of everything horrible. He must make you ugly.
To statists, you are just another process cost. Their willingness to accept process costs on the road to their utopia is limited only by national context. In the United States, an exceptional nation where we still have some rule of law, they will certainly calumniate you, and they may decide to harm your finances, career, or reputation. In less exceptional countries where there is less rule of law, the harm is often to people’s freedom or even their very lives, as more than 100 million poor souls discovered in the 20th century.
The typical leftist in America, ignorant of his own philosophical pedigree, will protest this characterization. Do not let their protestations sway you. The degree to which they will treat you—the monster standing in the way of their utopia—as a disposable process cost is limited only by the degree of power they have. For your own safety, do not let them get more.
You are in the way of the utopia they are trying to create. You are in the way of the power they need to do it.
You. Are. In. Their. Way.
“The conservative “thinks of political policies as intended to preserve order, justice, and freedom. The ideologue, on the contrary, thinks of politics as a revolutionary instrument for transforming society and even transforming human nature. In his march toward Utopia, the liberal ideologue is merciless.”
WesternFreePress.com, a conservative-friendly news and opinion website, was online from 2010 to 2020. More than 30,000 articles were published, and it had the largest circulation of any independent website of its type in Arizona. The article above, written by the website’s Chief Editor, Christopher Cook, had nearly 100,000 “hits” and nearly 500 comments on WesternFreePress.com alone. (David Leeper, August, 2020).
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License: Public Domain