In attempting to understand the burning cauldron of hatred which is fueling the left’s attacks on conservatives in general and Donald Trump in particular, one needs to grasp the underlying, though often unspoken, premise of their contempt.
It is this: The left believes that conservatives are lowbrow. They are convinced that those who oppose an activist government are, yes, greedy, but even more so, simple-minded, ignorant and clearly intellectually inferior to a leftist culture generously populated by high-brow, Ivy League academics who cut their teeth debating tenured professors in the faculty lounge and lecturing on lofty ideals from their ivory towers…far from the madding crowd. This pomposity has, of course, been amplified like never before in the era of Donald Trump.
Leftists have for years condescendingly recited the evidence for their own intellectual superiority such as the fact, for example, that they read more and watch less TV than conservatives. This doubles as a handy excuse/badge of honor for Fox News dominating cable ratings, and for the abject failure of liberal talk radio in a medium dominated by conservatives (leftists apparently only listen to NPR).
But more than anything, the left believes that constitutionalism is inherently anti-intellectual, and so it therefore, obviously, attracts less intelligent adherents.
But you would never know any of this by considering the simplistic, knee-jerk policy prescriptions of the left on so many of the great issues of the day that require walking and chewing gum simultaneously. They say they are deep thinkers yet engage in economic and social policies that require only shallow one-step thinking and willful ignorance of history, while constitutionally-based policies so often require multiple stages of thought and reliance on what history has proven.
Exhibit A is gun control. The leftist view is that guns are responsible for murders, so we should simply try to outlaw as many of them as possible. Whenever a high-profile murder or mass murder occurs, as it did recently at Stoneman-Douglas High School in Florida, the left simply calls for more gun control laws to fix future instances of the problem. Constitutionalists favoring a strict interpretation of the second amendment look at the fact that more gun control applies not just to criminals but to the clear majority of gun owners who are law abiding, thus weakening their ability to protect themselves. But of course, criminals by definition do not respect or obey the law, therefore they will not abide by stricter laws, while law-abiding gun owners will, and therefore more gun control actually creates a less safe society.
The left has made a single calculation to reach its policy position. The other side has made six. Which sounds more intellectually-based to you?
Simplistic Ideas Produce Unimpressive Results
Then there is tax policy and reform, which is now the signature achievement of Trump and Republicans. As we so often consider how to fix the unacceptable shortfall in government revenues caused by runaway spending, the left’s knee-jerk reaction is to simply try and raise taxes on the easiest targets, ignoring the root of the problem, the cascading consequences of higher taxes and the fact that it doesn’t even begin to solve our massive budget deficits. One calculation. Constitutionalists, on the other hand, will make the argument that higher taxes burden job creators with higher costs and less profit, which means they create fewer jobs, which results in more private sector unemployment, lower tax revenues flowing to the government, lower economic growth and higher deficits. Six calculations.
Poor Reasoning Skills
There are no better examples of this single step tax policy than Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. After all, for all of his famed intellect and Harvard Law credibility, the only specific promise Obama made in his re-election campaign was raising taxes on the rich. Hillary promised the same. Could only an anti-intellectual party select Obama and Clinton as its standard-bearers?
Then consider the issue of healthcare. Obama and his leftist cohorts saw some 15% of Americans without health insurance, and said the solution was to simply force the 85% who are insured to pay for the uninsured (though in this case you must give them credit for complexity – they concoted a 2,300 page monstrosity that nobody fully understands even to this day). Constitutionalists have thought far more deeply about this, and know that government-run healthcare will ultimately lower quality, raise costs, ration care, and squeeze healthcare providers to the breaking point. Thus, they favor the same mechanism for healthcare reform that works in every other area of the private economy – the free market, with ideas like expanded health savings accounts, tort reform, small business cooperatives, and the elimination of barriers to purchasing insurance across state lines.
Then there is the broader issue of helping the needy. The left’s answer is to create more and more government programs to hand stuff out. Constitutionalists understand that handing something to one person means taking it from another, who then has less money to spend and invest, which leads to less economic activity as well as less incentive and opportunity for the needy to become independent and lead productive and fulfilling lives. Thus, constitutionalists favor less government and more private charity, understanding that the willing hearts of donors are far superior to the compulsory charity of taxpayers enforced by the government. Again, a one-step thought process for the left, many more for the opposite point of view.
More Shallow Thinking
There are many other examples of shallow, one-step thinking on the left: If more people want access to a college education, then Bernie Sanders and his fellow travelers fix the problem by making it “free” for everyone. If enough people are having trouble making ends meet, the left wants to simply raise the minimum wage, never mind whether it will cost jobs. If enough people remain unemployed beyond their eligibility period, they move to simply extend unemployment benefits, ignoring the perverse incentives and other fallout inherent in that policy Problems with illegal immigration? Just have the president unilaterally declare some hundreds of thousands of previously illegal aliens as legal. Environmental issues related to coal can be solved by simply drowning the industry in crippling regulations, which leads to the death of coal and the millions of jobs and energy production that it creates. OK, that policy actually involves two steps.
And then, of course, there is climate change. In the 1970’s, environmental extremists/alarmists discovered a cooling trend, so of course warned us of the certain doom of the coming ice age. That same crowd now detects a warming trend, so catastrophic global warming, requiring economy-crushing regulation to contain, is obviously a threat to our very existence. Sure, we’re going to give you a pass on the ice-age thing, and take your word on global warming, uh, excuse me, climate change. Or what we used to call…..weather.
The Greatest Threat?
But the most potent example of the left’s one step thinking revolves around Donald Trump. Their view is predictably simple: Trump is a threat to all we hold dear, thus we must remove him from office by whatever means avail themselves.
In all of this, the single-step left can be counted on for one thing: the one step they take on any given policy will draw on their most extreme instincts and be centered around providing them – and the central state – more control, in spite of the demonstrable, spectacular and repeated failures of their political philosophy. We should not be surprised – thinking through proven and unintended consequences requires more than one step.
The fact is, it is not the constitutionalists, but the leftists, who have become simple-minded and intellectually bankrupt. They have not had a good or successful idea since, well, since, uh…..let me get back to you on that. This will require some thought.