Liberals Shout Because They Can’t Debate

Member Group : Jerry Shenk

American political discourse has been debased.

Many liberals, or "progressives," tend to hold common political and social assumptions seldom challenged by their peers or much of the media. Nowhere is there greater uniformity of thought than inside the American left’s insular, ideological bubble.

In my experience, there is more rigorous debate on the right. Conservatives face internal challenges, as well as routine criticism from progressives and much of the national media.

Although unable to simply explain how billions in desired new spending will fix what $6 trillion in new debt didn’t, liberals imagine that only they are intelligent, compassionate and moral. These bubble-dwellers ignore and, accordingly, have difficulty debating unfamiliar views expressed by articulate conservatives.

To experience what passes for liberal argument, tell progressives that Roosevelt administration policies deepened and prolonged the Great Depression. Or ask them to name one positive thing that has happened in public education since the liberal establishment and teachers unions took it over.

Both topics are relevant to today’s progressive policy failures, so, knowing they cannot win on the merits, even some smart liberals attempt, often angrily, to distract, change the subject, dominate the discussion, or, preferably, end it.

Everyone would like courtesy and respect from those who dispute their policy preferences, but when questioned, some liberals accuse reasonable dissenters of stupidity, incivility, dishonesty — or worse.

Avoiding genuine engagement, progressives invent straw men — arguments opponents never made — define them in their own terms, discredit them, declare victory and retreat while sanctimoniously declaring, often through sympathetic media, their opponents’ malevolence.

For example, liberals have never civilly or factually addressed tea party policy concerns. Progressives have attempted to slander and dismiss the grassroots with mendacious slurs — "haters," "racists," "Nazis," "terrorists" — intended to delegitimize honest opposition and discourage or suppress free expression. Why invite opposing opinions or engage in civil discussions when, for decades, character assassination and shouting down the opposition have worked?

Based in the liberal theology of victimhood, America’s culture shifted during the 1960s, creating massive entitlements, political correctness and protected groups — women, gays and minorities among them.

Progressives use spending public money on perceived "good things" to assume an unearned sense of superiority, unearned because their good intentions backfire.
As only one example, widespread dependence on welfare has created a nearly permanent American underclass, a group incentivized to disregard education, work, sexual responsibility and marriage. Despite the expenditure of extraordinary amounts of public funds, families have broken down and schools become dreadful in areas where pride fled first.

The liberal establishment insists that we look for root causes of these conditions to excuse them but will not consider that the root causes are not what was done to people, but what was done for them. Government dependency easily removes pride and personal responsibility but never restores them.

Encouraging able-bodied youngsters to regard cashing government checks as a career choice tragically wastes human potential. If society expects so little of people, how will they expect more of themselves?

Conservatives believe that meaningful education, work and embracing the principles of personal responsibility and social obligation do more to improve and preserve society than overly broad liberal social programs. But today, challenging liberal orthodoxy has consequences.

Hypocritical liberals who maliciously called a Southern black woman, Condoleeza Rice, a "house Negro" and a "sellout" for her conservative principles now libel as racists all good, decent people who favor welfare reform or enforcing immigration laws or who disagree with the president.

Liberals mock hardworking rural Americans and Southerners as ignorant hicks. One cannot be a conservationist absent reflexive hostility to any, even responsible, use of undeveloped land. Scientists skeptical of anthropomorphic global warming are ridiculed as "science deniers. Pro-life Americans are said to wage "war on women." Defenders of heterosexual marriage as a legal or social standard are declared homophobic.

But contempt and aggression aren’t persuasion. Mockery, slander and sneering insults aren’t debate. Although they are never at a loss for words, the American left is effectively out of arguments. The angry negativity with which many liberals respond to simple disagreement is the proof of it.

Jerry Shenk of West Hanover Twp. is a retired sales and marketing professional. He is writing a guest column through February.