The Dance Masters

Member Group : Jerry Shenk

As a long-time observer of and occasional participant in the national dialogue on a range of political and social issues, I am interested in how the opposing sides engage — or fail to.

Collectively, liberals, or "progressives," as they prefer to be known, hold common political and social assumptions seldom challenged by their peers or public media.

Conservatives have better arguments, because debate on the right is more rigorous. Conservatives face internal challenges as well as routine criticism from progressives and their allies in the national media.

To mask their shortcomings, progressives have debased public discourse in America.

To experience how the left conducts public debate, tell a roomful of progressives that there is historical evidence that the policies of the Roosevelt administration deepened and prolonged the Great Depression.

If you’re feeling especially brave, ask the same group to name one positive thing that has happened in public education since the liberal establishment and teachers unions took it over in the 1960s.

Progressives understand the relevance of both topics to current government policy and failed policy outcomes, so they must change the subject, control the discussion, or, better yet, cut it off.

Predictable and stylized, the American left’s approach to public debate has become a psychological-political kabuki dance full of set pieces, often conducted angrily and at high volume, with predetermined outcomes.

The dance begins with a demand that anyone who disputes liberal policy preferences engage in "civil discussion." Then, once joined, progressives terminate any ensuing exchange by declaring that the people who simply disagree with them on the merits are stupid, uncivil or not dealing in good faith. The terpsichorean climax occurs when progressives invent an argument their antagonists never made, define it only in their own terms, dismiss it, declare "victory" and retreat without ever having actually engaged. Progressives then sanctimoniously declare, often through media shills, a "teachable moment" somehow proving the malevolence of their opposition.

For example, progressives have yet to publicly, civilly, employing facts or logic, address any of the fiscal or constitutional concerns of tea party/patriot/constitutional grassroots organizations. Left-wing response to the grassroots is best characterized by incoherent, illogical demonization.

Americans who share the policy goals of the tea parties are labeled "Astroturf," stupid, irrational or racist despite conflicting evidence. Such slurs, meant to change the subject and demonize legitimate opposition, have been constant since tea parties reached mass sufficiently critical to ensure that their collective voice would be heard.
Because engagement wasn’t permitted, grassroots groups demonstrate that it’s unnecessary to actively debate progressives to be slandered and dismissed. But, why should liberals sincerely invite opposing opinions or engage in genuinely civil discussions when insults, shouting down their opposition and "SHUT UP!" have worked so well for them for so many years?

Based in the liberal theologies of moral equivalency and victimhood, a sea change in America’s culture occurred in the Johnson administration. The change was manifested in massive entitlements, political correctness and class condescension, and resulted in the creation of protected groups — women, gays, blacks, and, more recently, Muslims, among them — most anyone, it seems, who isn’t white, Christian, heterosexual and male.

Using public money to do "good things" for people may allow progressives to feel good about themselves, but the programs and policies progressives favor nearly always backfire. For example, widespread dependence on welfare has created a permanent underclass in America given incentives to breed out of wedlock, ignore the need to work or get an education and disregard moral and social obligations. Despite the expenditure of extraordinary amounts of public funds, families have broken down and schools have become dreadful in declining neighborhoods where pride fled first. If society expects so little of people, how will they expect more of themselves?

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.

Authentic conservatives believe that the principles of personal responsibility, social obligation, property rights and the rule of law, undiminished by progressive interpretations, do more to preserve and improve society than any social program devised by neo-socialists.

It’s become nearly impossible to debate these differences in a public forum.

One cannot fault the government’s failure to enforce immigration laws without being branded a racist. Indeed, criticizing any policy of the Obama administration risks the racist brand. One cannot be considered a conservationist without being reflexively hostile to any, even responsible, use of undeveloped land. One cannot dispute militant feminism without being labeled a misogynist. One cannot defend heterosexual marriage as a legal or social standard without being called a gay-basher. One cannot be compassionate and conservative. One cannot call militant Islam what it is.

In short, one cannot question liberal orthodoxy in America today without consequences.

Though most liberals would have them be, wishful thinking and misconceptions aren’t acceptable substitutes for facts, common sense and the lessons of history. And insults and shouting aren’t debate.

Though they are never at a loss for words, the American left is effectively out of arguments. The manner in which they respond to simple disagreement is the proof of it.