Conservatives understand liberals; this doesn’t work in reverse

This is a re-post from November, 2014

William Voegeli, senior editor of the Claremont Review of Books [the best one around these days], and author of The Pity Party: A Mean-Spirited Diatribe Against Liberal Compassion, writing today at The Daily Signal:

Just before the recent midterm electionsThe Daily Beast’s Michael Tomasky called the GOP “as intellectually dishonest and bankrupt and just plain old willfully stupid as a political party can possibly be,” one whose only agenda “is to slash regulations and taxes and let energy companies and megabanks and multinational corporations do whatever it is they wish to do.”

I’ve accused Republicans of being stupid but it seems to me that a conservative like me has more cause to think and say that about Republicans than any liberal. After all, conservatives think Republicans are stupid for a good reason. We vote for them. We want them to win and to govern. But they don’t appreciate us and always seem to make us think they’d prefer that we didn’t vote for them. That’s awfully damn stupid. Elected Republicans like to say they can’t win elections with conservatives alone. But they must think they can win elections without conservatives.  Another sign of being stupid.  If conservatives ever go the third party route Republicans will never win another election.  Of course, conservatives won’t either. That’s why they aren’t ever going to go that way. Conservatives aren’t stupid. Anyway, all this should please Michael Tomasky. He’s sort of stupid himself if he doesn’t get it.

As to what he says about regulations and taxes, we conservatives only wish he were right. But he isn’t. No one can name one thing Republicans have done (or tried to do) in the last decade to reduce taxes or ease regulations in an over-regulated America. That’s another reason we think they’re the stupid party. They rely on the flimsy excuse that Obama will just veto anything they do, or Harry Reid will not allow their legislation to come before the Senate. Huh? That’s the sort of defeatist thinking that brings defeat. The Chicago Bears would stop playing football if they thought that way. Now that Republicans are going to control both Houses of Congress some of them are signaling that they still can’t do anything because Obama will veto whatever they do. So?  Doing what they were elected to do, whether or not Obama vetoes every bill, lets their voters know why they elected them and might want to do so again.

Tomasky is engaging in the worst sort of blind hubris if the thinks Republicans are the party of “megabanks and multi-national corporations.”  They’d probably like to be but the Democrats have already taken that slot with massive crony capitalism and financial backing from billionaires on a scale Republicans can only dream about.

Even with the recent Republican victory in the midterms, some elected Republicans are interpreting the election as “the people want us to work with Democrats.” O’boy, now that’s really stupid. If the people wanted Republicans to work with Democrats they would have elected Democrats. [UPDATE: The Denver Post is already trying to convince Colorado’s new Republican senator-elect Cory Gardner that he better be willing to work with Obamanista Michael Bennet or he will risk alienating Colorado voters. I hope Gardner is smart enough to know that if Colorado voters had wanted a senator to work with Bennet they would have re-elected Mark Udall.]

The people more likely want the Republicans to engage Democrats in the political version of mortal combat. War without the guns is what they want. They want Obama’s radical leftist agenda to be stopped. Of course, that doesn’t mean they want conservatism. Since Republican establishment also don’t want conservatism they have never explained to the American people what it is and how it would benefit them. Consequently, not enough people really understand it even though most of them will tell pollsters that they are conservative. It’s a bit weird but that’s the way it is.

It’s much easier to know how a liberal thinks than how a conservative thinks. Voegeli explains that liberals believe, “…it is impossible not only for any reasonable person to be conservative, but even to take such idiotic, malignant ideas seriously.” Voegeli points out that liberals flunk the Ideological Turing Test, referring by analogy to Alan Turing’s test for Artificial Intelligence. The Ideological Turing Test requires that one be able to characterize a viewpoint he disagrees with so discerningly and scrupulously that an adherent of that position finds his summary of it as clear and persuasive as any provided by a true believer.

Astute conservatives easily pass the test. They can explain the liberal viewpoint as well as liberals themselves, probably better, not only because most conservatives were once liberals themselves before seeing the light, but also because liberalism is so simple and easy. That’s why it is and probably always will be the dominant point of view, even among some people who mistakenly believe they are conservative. All one need do is advance rhetoric dripping in compassion, empathy and kindness and it’s guaranteed one will have explained the liberal viewpoint as clearly and about as persuasive as a true believer.

So, Michael Tomasky, you don’t really have any reason to call Republicans stupid. But I do.

UPDATE: If the two-party system in the U.S. ever gives way to a multiple party system that even slightly mirrors a parliamentary system, the Republican party would have to change or suffer greatly.  The Republican establishment should look carefully at how the UKIP in Britain is tearing into the Tory vote.  Conservatives going third party is remote and will probably remain so, but the UKIP example is out there for all to see.

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