Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Liberal Thinking: Follow The Leader

We’ve talked twice now about the difference between conservative and liberal thinking. Today we’re going to put the last piece of the puzzle in place. Then we’ll talk about how this knowledge can help us.

In the first discussion, I pointed out that liberals are short term thinkers, whereas conservatives are long term thinkers. Short term thinkers live for the now, i.e. they value instant gratification and discount the future. Long term thinkers are the reverse, they seek to maximize their gratification in the future and will sacrifice in the present to achieve that goal.

This isn’t necessarily a criticism as both types of thinking have their place. For example, without short term thinkers, no one would set out to Hollywood to become a movie star. . . which, by the way, explains why Hollywood is full of liberals. But when it comes to problem solving, short term thinking is a disaster.

Short term thinkers don’t realize that people will change their behavior in response to the solution offered. If you give a man a fish, more men will choose dependency. If you raise taxes, people will work less. If you make it less profitable to become a doctor, fewer people will become doctors. Short term thinkers don’t realize this. Thus, while short term solutions may solve a problem momentarily, they will almost always make the problem worse in the long term.

In the second discussion, I described how liberal policies are often premised on the idea of changing human nature: “If we can only ban people from saying the wrong things, they won’t have the wrong desires anymore.” Yet, thousands of years of liberal attempts at changing human nature -- from wishful liberal thinking to political correctness to communist reeducation camps -- all failed. The simple fact is that human nature cannot be changed. We are hardwired to want, to need, to hope, to fear, and to feel the whole gambit of emotions. We can hope to “incentivize” people with punishments and rewards, but we cannot change their fundamental natures.

So what’s still missing? Liberals believe that superior people should make all of the decisions for the rest of humanity. Of course, they won’t admit this. To the contrary, they will assert that they strive to keep an open mind, to examine all sides of an argument and be independent thinkers, blah blah blah. Yeah, right, and they’re all moderates too. Consider the evidence. . .

First, with rare exceptions, liberal policies always involve handing off decisions to some higher authority, i.e. an “expert” who is supposedly trained in making the specific decision. Liberals want experts to tell you how to spend your money and how much you can earn. They want “consumer advocates” to decide what loan terms you can accept. They want the government to make health care decisions for you. They want you to stop smoking and they want experts to tell you what to eat. Government experts will invest your retirement for you. Counselors will instruct you on how to raise your children. And so on.

This should be proof enough that liberals innately put their faith in distant experts over average people (sometimes even themselves). They want someone better than us to make all of the important decisions of our lives. Many don’t want the responsibility of making critical decisions. Other simply don’t trust us mere ignorant fools to make these decisions for ourselves and they want these experts to take care of us idiots. Indeed, they don’t call it the “nanny state” because it trusts average people to take care of themselves.

The fact that liberals view these experts as superior people can be seen in their rhetoric, which is simultaneously worshipful of the experts and dismissive of the public at large. These experts are deemed to be of superior intelligence and ability. . . visionary and noble. If you want proof, consider how they idolize their experts, i.e. their “higher authority.”

It is not enough for liberals to respect their leaders. They feel compelled to worship their leaders. They don’t want merely to agree with their leaders, they want to fall blindly in love with their leaders, to give themselves over entirely. How else do you explain the insatiable liberal need to put their leaders on a cult-like pedestal. They want to wear what their leaders wear, to eat the same foods, to own the same pets. They regularly declare their leaders as the most handsome or beautiful or stylish people on the planet. They cry or faint at their leaders’ speeches and describe them as the greatest speeches they’ve ever heard. They compare them to stars or gods. They talk about their leaders being heroic. They are historic. They are greater than all that has ever come before or ever will come again.

And lest you think this was just some fascination with Obama, where journalists brought their kids to his rallies and cheered him uncontrollably and wrote columns describing their sexual fantasies involving him, the same was true with Clinton when he was first elected. Moreover, look at the way they idolized JFK, RFK, MLK, and FDR, and the way they’ve mythologized monsters like Che Guevara and Fidel Castro. It is not enough that these were men with whom they agree, they need to be seen as messiahs. . . shining moments in humanity that promised to bring about Heaven on earth.

Liberals trust these super humans implicitly, no matter what evidence exists to the contrary. They forgive all their sins and failures (at least until it becomes clear they’ve been betrayed by these false messiahs). They refuse to hear anything that contradicts their unconditional love. Indeed, as anyone who has ever argued with liberals has discovered, liberals don’t think -- they repeat what they’ve been told by the people they consider authorities. They will uncritically repeat obvious lies, they will repeat obvious contradictions and logical inconsistencies, and they will even repeat mantra that flies in the face of their own experience. Their leader’s words are gospel and you contradict them at the risk of speaking heresy.

Indeed, if you try to argue with them, your assertions are immediately dismissed as distortions or lies. If you produce evidence contradicting their chosen authority, they will dismiss the evidence as being from a biased source or incomplete. These self-described open-minded individuals will not accept anything as true unless it comes from an approved authority. Finally, if the evidence cannot be refuted in any way, e.g. it comes from liberal sources, they will declare that there must be some mistake and they will drop the matter, sure that their leader has told them the truth. Like cultists, they have inoculated themselves from truth.

So what does this mean? It means that arguing with liberals is difficult. Though, this gives us points to raise in arguments. Point out the long term effects of their solutions and the inability to change human nature. Point out the arrogance of their position, claiming to be superior to “average” people. Know to have sources that they cannot refute, particularly from liberal sources.

Moreover, careful use of this knowledge can help conservatives defuse liberal resistance in the policy arena. For example, conservatives looking to advance a legislative agenda should always include an expert report or two from sources that liberals will accept as authoritative -- like the CBO. They should also include what one might call “placebo experts” in legislation to placate liberals. If you wanted to privatize social security, for example, you could offer to include plenty of “experts” who can advise taxpayers on how to invest (in a non-binding way of course). And realizing that liberals are short term thinkers, conservative legislators should consider including “placebo solutions” that liberals would see as fixing the immediate problem, while the conservatives implement the real, long term solution. Again, committees of experts aksed to examine issues are a great way to buy time and yet placate liberals.

Consider each of these traits the next time you argue with a liberal or you try to sort out something they’ve proposed. Knowledge is power.


MegaTroll said...

I think you really nailed it. When I think about the liberals I know, these are the things they say and believe. I never thought about that before, but it's true. Thanks. Gives me something to think about.

Writer X said...

Andrew, the one thing that I've noticed about Liberals, particularly in the healthcare debate, is that experts are fine and dandy, as long as they support the Liberal point-of-view. If they don't (e.g. CBO), they're no longer considered a true expert but "someone with an agenda."

AndrewPrice said...

Thanks Mega, I hope this is useful for anyone who wants to argue with a liberal. If you understand why they think something, that gives you lots of insight into how to counter it.

AndrewPrice said...

Writer X, Let me clarify -- when I use the word "expert" that doesn't necessarily mean what you or I would think it means.

It isn't that they are relying on true experts so much as they have anointed people to be experts. Thus, in their minds, Obama, for example, knows more about health care than a team of conservative doctors.

What I'm saying is that they put their faith into someone they want to believe is superior, not that they actually rely on true experts.

Writer X said...

Andrew, good point. Anyone who doesn't seem superior is usually demonized.

AndrewPrice said...

Writer X, You're right. I don't think most liberals would think that they demonize anyone, but the instance someone disagrees with their chosen leaders, they do right away accuse those people of lying or bias or conflicts of interest -- they never consider that there can be good faith disagreement. And all of that fits with the cult-like thinking that they are doing.

Did you ever notice, for example, that they don't claim that conservative policies don't work, they claim that we want to hurt poor people or old people or whatever they "are trying to protect." That's pure demonization.

The other aspect of this is that they simply won't listen to anyone who isn't one of their superior people or who doesn't parrot what those people say.

Writer X said...

Andrew, yeah, I notice that all of the time. Unfortunately, most of the Republican politicians who debate with them always fall into the trap of trying to defend their point-of-view rather than keeping it on topic. Whenever a Liberal goes down the demonization path (which is often), I know that they don't have a good argument.

AndrewPrice said...

Writer X, One of the reasons I'm outlining my observations on this is precisely what you just said -- Republicans don't seem to understand what they're dealing with.

They mistakenly treat liberals like rational thinkers or good faith debaters. And I'm hoping that by realizing what we're dealing with, they can get better at debating them.

StanH said...

Good read Andrew! Liberalism for me can be described in an old adage that emanates from the DADA movement during WWI “Here today, gone tomorrow, so live each day for what it is.” When I was a liberal kid in the ‘70s I loved that mantra, it goes along nicely with, “if it feels good do it.” Arguing with a hardcore liberal is pointless. Government largess is a way of life, a career for a liberal, you don’t bite the hand that feeds you, sometimes. The conversion from liberal to conservative usually requires a “come to Jesus,” moment, for me it was Carter. For many of the brainwashed leftist we have now allowed generational dependence, it’s going to be very hard to break, not impossible. Conversations like this will help enforcing conservative ideals leading to disciples of “We the People,” fighting for the greatness that is America. Inspirational morning read Andrew, I’m ready to go hassle some liberals, metaphorically speaking of coarse.

AndrewPrice said...

Thanks Stan, I'm glad you liked it! And I'm glad you're ready to go hassle some liberals, they need it. Sadly, most liberals can go through their whole lives without ever being challenged intellectually because the media and Hollywood parrot back the same views they've been given and most people aren't willing to talk to them because there is no point.

It's time for conservatives to step up and call and idiot and idiot. Shake them out of their group think bubbles.

LL said...

A well written, coherent argument explaining the liberal mindset.

There is a human desire to adore the "star". It exists in conservative circles as well, but nowhere near to the extent it does with liberals.

The system we have fostered through redistributed wealth to this point in this country, will be our undoing. And I'm not simply talking about Dear Leader and his ObamaNation. MANY conservatives feel that government is the solution rather than less government, and a philosophy of self reliance.

AndrewPrice said...

LL, Thanks. I agree entirely. It troubles me a lot how many conservatives also fall for the "star" or hero worship idea.

And it really troubles me how many "conservatives" seem to think that imposing their own views on people through government fiat is somehow different than what the left is trying to do. Social engineering is social engineer, and the results are always doomed to failure (and the law of unintended consequences will usually punish you for the effort).

JG said...

Good word. I've found it ironic how leftists feel the need to identify the "leader" of the conservative movement even more than conservatives do. This explains why.

AndrewPrice said...

Great point JG! It really does explain that. :-)

It also explains why they think that we are brainwashed by people like Rush, when the reality is that conservatives really come to their ideas themselves.

Tennessee Jed said...

liberals particularly those who are well off economically are consumed by guilt. They feel guilty they have so much which goes to your point about the supposed moral inferiority of conservatives who are intrinsically selfish. Thus, they feel some sort of heroic morally superior leader is the only one capable of bringing out their (and our) better angels, et., etc., blah, blah,blah.

Their argument can be quite effective because it can, at times, have a kernal of truth to it (short term.) Capitalism does tend to concentrate wealth in fewer and fewer hands. Longer term, we realize, that, as you also point out, there are consequences to socialism that are far worse (everyone is worse off, but there is a smaller gap between rich and poor.)

LawHawkSF said...

Andrew: I like the point about liberals demonizing their opposition, while conservatives argue the facts. On Obamacare, conservatives pointed out that it couldn't be paid for under the current funding scheme, and that taxes would be raised. Then they pointed out that Obama wanted to take $800 billion from Medicare coverage for the elderly to spread it out over everyone. Thus they provide minimal care for everyone while providing considerably less care than previously for seniors who have paid into the system their entire lives and expected to have a decent medical care package when they retired. So the paying elderly get less care than they had, the young who have paid nothing to date immediately get equal coverage, and everyone loses. Yet I have never heard a legitimate conservative say to seniors that "liberals/Democrats want you to die, quickly." Yet Obamacare will produce almost exactly that result.

AndrewPrice said...

Jed, Well reasoned. I think you're right about the immediate appeal of liberal policies. You see someone starving and you can't help but agree that feeding them seems like the right thing to do. It's only later when you suddenly have hundreds of people demanding to be fed that you realize that you only made things worse.

AndrewPrice said...

Lawhawk, I think that comes from the fact that liberal "ideas" are more emotional -- they aren't based on reason. So when someone objects, you get an emotional response rather than a logical response. And usually the emotional response to rejection is anger.

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