At NRO, Lee Habeeb and Mike Leven recently posted a piece entitled “The Moral Case for Conservatism.” As I read their post, I found myself nodding in agreement with virtually the whole of what they had to say. One thing in particular, though, I thought worth sharing with you all, and that’s this statement:
The fact is that the Left doesn’t have much faith in the little guy. Or the individual. Or much faith in the faith community. Indeed, what they really believe about us without ever admitting it is that we are not very smart. We are not capable of making choices on our own. And we are incapable of great and small achievements without them.
That’s all familiar, I would imagine, but when I read that, something clicked. I’ve written about how we should take the offense in presenting conservative ideas to the American people, instead of spending so much of our time parrying leftist blows. Well, Habeeb and Leven have presented us with something we can use to great advantage: Expose what they call later in the piece the liberals’ “dim view of mankind” for what it is, something utterly insulting and dehumanizing.
More concretely, whenever you’re listening to a liberal expound all the reasons that conservatives are heartless, wicked snobs who would allow poor grandma to waste away and die (as someone on here recently put it) without so much as lifting a finger to help, fight back with something like this: “No, I just believe that people are smart enough to make their own decisions and wise enough to take care of themselves. What’s the matter? Do you think that the average Joe is too stupid to know how to look out for his own interests? Oh, you don’t think people are that dumb? Well, then why won’t you let poor average Joe make his own decisions? Why do you insist that some bureaucrat dictate the details of poor average Joe’s life? Is it because you think the bureaucrats are smarter than the rest of us or something? Oh, you feel that the state needs to pick up the slack on tending to the needy? Why? Is it because you think that people are just too selfish to do that kind of charitable work themselves? If you think that, why don’t you just say so; if you don’t think that, then don’t you think it’s redundant to involve the state,” etc.
Mind you, I’m not saying that your liberal opponent will be left totally speechless and unable to present a coherent response. I’m not saying that your logic is necessarily irrefutable (but then, I don’t know if such Cartesian certainty is even possible in political debate). I think the merit of this approach lies mainly in the fact that it exposes one of the primary assumptions underlying the liberal philosophy* in one of the starkest, most in-your-face ways possible. And that is something that can go a long way toward helping us gain an audience with the fence-sitters.
After all, would you want to support a party whose entire philosophy is based on the notion that you’re stupid and uncaring? I think the realization of just how condescending liberalism really is is enough to drive a lot of people into the ranks of conservatism. But maybe I’m just an eternal optimist.
*I do indeed think this is one of their assumptions, and one that is not just peripheral to their way of thinking, but absolutely fundamental to it, and therein lies the offense. Otherwise, their ideas would have a really hard time getting off the ground. Think about it.