I will soon return to more Manospheric topics, but this is where my brain is dragging me at the moment, so this is where I’m going. I feel a bit behind at the moment, for I was sick this weekend and had to sleep when I wanted to write. I’ll just have to be better this week.
One of the biggest problems I see when observing conservatives/libertarians dealing with leftists is that all too often we don’t know who we’re dealing with. Sure, we know they’re wrong, but we don’t necessarily understand the reasons for their error. Therefore, our attacks are imprecise and often backfire. We insult when we should tread softly or coddle when we should go for the throat. We confront issues head-on when it would be more prudent to dance around them, but sometimes we try to yell around the elephant in the living room. We argue Principle to a cut-throat union boss or self-interest to an idealistic young hipster. This post addresses that.
There are as many reasons for leftism as there are leftist. Fortunately, there are actually patterns to their nonsensical thoughts, and these patterns fall into three distinct categories. Yes, there can be overlap between them, and sometimes it can takes some prodding to learn into which category your conversation partner falls.
One of the Foundational Principles of Truth is I am what I am. The individual is sovereign, endowed with rights that depend on no man. We each have rights, responsibilities, and although we differ in billions of different ways, we are all equal before God and before the Law. Leftism screws with that principle in three distinct ways, and the way in which a leftist views the I principle determines which group he or she falls into.
This label derives directly from Thomas Sowell’s wonderful work, Vision of the Anointed (an incredibly persuasive book for any leftie who doesn’t fall into this category). The Anointed are those who know what’s best for us, those who by exceptional gifts or birthright understand how our lives should be run and have the right to make us comply. They know which businesses should be allowed to thrive and which should fail. Obesity is a problem, and they know how to solve it. They understand that we can’t be trusted with firearms, that if we’re not regulated to death we’ll exploit each other endlessly and force autistic children to fight the elderly to the death over the last scraps of cat food.
Unfortunately for us, their schemes rarely work; they know nothing about the Law of Unintended Consequences. Fortunately for them, they don’t care. Every scheme that results in disaster is little more than another reason they should have even more power. Be it the War on Poverty or skyrocketing crime rates in Britain after the handgun ban, the problem was never that they did too much, but that they weren’t able to do quite enough.
This is because, somewhere along the way in each of their precious little hearts, “We need to do more to IMPROVE OUR WORLD” became “WE need to do more to improve our world.” They care, they have greater insight, so what’s best for them is axiomatically best for the rest of us. It’s therefore perfectly okay to have a carbon footprint as big as Al Gore’s, because Al is doing what MUST BE DONE! The bigger the carbon footprint for him, the smaller it will end up being for the rest of us. The same principle applies to every Hollywood star who wants to increase taxes on the rich but who pays accountants to find every “loophole” in their own favor, to the disregard for Bill Clinton’s sexual escapades, to John Kerry’s yacht tax-evasion, to Obama’s penchant for fatty foods.
The key belief among the Anointed is I am more than what I am. The Anointed need not follow the same laws as the rest of us, for the laws are meant to control only those without their own superior wisdom. After all, we need them, so if a law puts one of them behind bars, it’s actually just messing with the Grand Design to keep the rest of us in line. On the contrary, they deserve massive lobbying contracts if the rubes are ever so stupid as to elect them out of office (yes, conservatives have their Anointed, too).
However, the Anointed need not be in an actual position of power. Being Anointed is more a question of identity than one of position, although the two often go together. The aging hippie who lives, eats, and breathes leftism is also Anointed, as is the educated black who fills in his black co-workers on the latest manufactured injustice. Young idealists will often be among the Benighted (see below), but their leader, the one who keeps them in line will usually be Anointed. Their role may not be as prominent as Chris Matthews, but they are still special because they really care.
When confronting an Anointed individual, you will find them very knowledgeable about the leftist perspective on virtually every issue but entirely ignorant of the conservative perspective on any of them. Fox News is LIES! LIES! LIES! and therefore need not be considered. They know what others think only enough to construct a caricature that they can shoot down. As loudly as they scream about conservative close-mindedness, they are entirely certain that there is only Leftist Truth and opposing Lies.
You may be tempted to try to persuade the Anointed. Don’t bother. There are two reasons to talk to them: 1. To use them as a foil to your common sense to persuade any witnesses to your conversation, and 2. Practice. Discussions with the Anointed can be incredibly frustrating, for they will use every slimy rhetorical technique in the book to draw attention away from the point you’re making. You will be attacked and probably insulted. This can be worth it when you turn their bullshit back on them in front of others, but when it’s one-on-one, you’ll eventually get tired.
The closest you will get to “victory” alone with an Anointed is to see them convulse on the floor and sputter in something that sounds like tongues, but they will never admit you’re right. It can be fun to see that happen, but it’s annoying as hell when you see them two days later and they’ve literally forgotten everything about your conversation. You have been warned.
The Entitled are somewhat more persuadable, but not much. These are the folks who belong to the Leftist coalition because they want something: a continued entitlement check, hiring preferences because of their status as a victim, government jobs, collective bargaining rights. Converting the Entitled takes work, because to change their minds is to convince them that the goodies they receive are morally wrong. This is no small thing, which is why the Left wants to get all of us hooked on some sort of government benefit.
Usually, the Entitled know very little about politics other than their pet issue, but they can be incredibly knowledgeable about that issue. Union members may support gay marraige, but if the Republicans and Democrats switched sides on that issue (or most any issue), they would remain with the party that supports them and their check.
Unlike the Anointed, sometimes these folks have great amounts of common sense regarding any area outside their area of “expertise.” Therefore, if you have a friendship with an Entitled person, develop trust on other issues before confronting them directly on what they will undoubtedly perceive as an attack on their very right to exist. Many union members instinctively understand the need for gun rights and other conservative positions.
If you are confronting an Entitled individual in a short-term setting, like you would with the Anointed, use them as a foil to your own views in front of an audience. Be aware that with the Entitled things can get very personal very fast. Therefore, steer clear of their pet issue until it becomes unavoidable, but when that elephant in the room is taking its dump, proceed with stealth. You must attack without seeming to attack, be an ass while coming across as a victim. It is best to let it come to this only if you either know a great deal about the issue at hand or if you’re an expert at framing it to your advantage.
The Entitled simultaneously believe I am more than what I am AND I am less than what I am. They are the former in that they have a right to the public trough (other people’s money), and the latter in that they are helpless victims who can’t be trusted to survive without pensions most of us in the private sector would kill for.
There is also some brilliantly designed muck designed into the plight of the Entitled. First, often these folks have been promised what they think they’re entitled to. Even though the promises were often downright absurd, they were promises, and people trust promises. Often, they would have saved more for retirement had our public officials been more honest (or the Entitled not been so naive), but because that didn’t happen, they need that check to maintain the standard of living to which they’ve become accustomed. Also, some entitlements have been paid into, and the “rate of return” on something like Social Security will always be debatable.
In our disturbingly indebted society, eventually the Entitled classes will go to war with one another. When the proverbial fecal matter hits the fan, you can use this much more easily than you can today. In the meantime, everybody thinks they can get theirs if only we raise taxes.
This is the last but sadly vanishing class of leftie, the true believer, those who have nothing tangible to gain from the Leftist project but who believe in it because they are convinced it’s the morally right thing to do. This group includes successful (non-governmental) minorities who’ve had the plight of their less successful “brothers” pounded into their heads, the waitress who spends an extra portion of her meager salary on “green” laundry detergent, the young professionals who don’t mind paying more in taxes because they think it actually does some good, the low-information voter who votes Democrat because his belief that “Republicans are for the rich” has never been challenged, the college students to spend their summers in El Salvador working on some new experimental communal farming technique. Included in this group may even be some folks in positions of power and influence (I suspect Kirsten Powers and Dennis Kucinich, but I could be wrong).
As conservatives, often we laugh at these folks, and there IS much to laugh at. However, there’s actually a bit to respect as well. They believe in something, and genuine belief is far more reachable (and laudable) than the tangible benefits leftism provides the other two groups. I KNOW, their beliefs are often poorly though-out, illogical, and naive, but the idea that things should be better than they are, when tempered with a correct understanding of reality, can actually be productive. These folks are bothered by Al Gore’s sale of Current TV to Al Jazeera, and some of them despise Obama’s drone war and held their noses to vote for him because they’re worried that Republicans would be worse. The hipocrisy of the Anointed is a great weapon to use with the Benighted.
Opposing poverty and war are good things; voting for leftists isn’t. Obviously, there’s a disconnect, for the Benighted have a skewed view of reality. Conservatives understand that poverty will never be eliminated unless we eliminate laziness, and that simply can’t be done (I know that not ALL poverty results from laziness, but some of it sure as hell does). War will be with us as long as humans think they can benefit from killing people and taking their stuff. People are people, and they always will be.
Also, they’ve rarely heard the other side. How many of the anointed are aware of how welfare can actually increase poverty? How an increased minimum wage can increase unemployment? About how peace movements in France and Britain encouraged Hitler? How the Tragedy of the Commons can increase pollution? How making hispanic kids feel better about themselves through bi-lingual education can relegate them to second-class citizenship for their entire lives?
People are people. A is A. This is what must be presented to the Benighted, and it must be done effectively. Being too nice to an Anointed means you’ll get trounced, but being too harsh to a Benighted can frighten them into thinking you don’t even acknowledge what they believe are essential ideals. There’s goodness there, use it.
As any student of free-market economics understands, the best way to actually reduce poverty is through free markets. The best way to avoid war is a strong national defense. The best way to protect the environment is to respect property rights. More funding for education does not necessarily lead to better education.
These folks believe (or at least think they believe) in reducing poverty, world peace, environmental protection, and quality education. They vote for politicians who supposedly agree with them but who make these problems worse. It takes some art, some talent, but it’s doable.
The Benighted are less than who they are, they fail to use the minds God gave them the way they should, but there is something decent about them, something that can be reached.
I’ve done it often, and I will show you how.