a few days ago, Mr. Krauthammer put forth a more nuanced (or if you prefer, definitive) position regarding the Great Chasm — and why compromise is impossible. I don’t have the quote in front of me… but if memory serves it went something like this: The fundamental difference is that Conservatives think Liberals are naive and emotional… while Liberals believe Conservatives are evil.That formulation has been around for a long time, and in my opinion it is largely accurate. But Root thinks it gives liberals too much credit. Although he doesn't say so directly, it appears he thinks we should see liberals as evil -- much as they view conservatives, except that our views are correct. But first he makes some points I agree with about how liberals viewing conservatives as evil explains many things.
First, it explains why Liberals often come across as pompous and condescending.It also explains why they hold their many false assumptions with the fervor of religious belief, and react with outrage when those assumptions are challenged, as if you were an evil heretic. But here's where my opinions of liberals diverge from Root's.
It explains their absolute intolerance of diversity of thought.
It explains their violent reaction when they don’t get their way.
It explains their hostility toward any who dare to challenge their Worldview.
It explains their knee-jerk demagoguery and intransigence.
I guess that list is also without limit. But you get the point.
When Conservatives say liberals are just naive, we are being too charitable. ... When conservatives say they are well-intentioned, we are in denial. They are not on the whole well-intentioned. Sure, there are many hippy-dippy, pot smoking liberals who believe in live and let live. But this is an unfortunate caricature. One that tends to make conservatives underestimate our foes. The most dangerous liberals are incredibly pragmatic. They are incredibly deliberate. They have objectives and formulate strategies to achieve them. ... My point is that when we call Liberals naive, we are being naive. When we say that perhaps “they love too much” we are throwing pearls before the swine. Think Machiavelli and you’ll be closer to the truth.
He goes on in this vein. In my opinion this is dangerously close to conspiracy-theory thinking, viewing liberals as evil-minded plotters determined to inflict their monstrous designs upon us. This is the type of thinking that leads people to argue that Obama wants to destroy the economy, or that Democrats want to keep the poor helpless and dependent on government only for political reasons. Are there people on the left who are purely cynical manipulators, interested in power and nothing else? Of course. But I don't think that's a reasonable characterization of the majority of liberals. The evidence indicates that most liberals really believe their ideas and policies are good, not just for gaining and holding power, but for human progress. I'll give one detailed example of liberal thinking based on a recent discussion on a liberal blog, and my reading of related material on other leftist sites.
Let's say you suggest that poor people are somehow responsible, even partially, for their own conditions, and mention practical things they might do to improve their situation. This goes over on the left much like arguing with a conservative evangelical Christian that good works make more sense than salvation by faith. You are blinded by your "privilege" and don't understand that poor people are helpless victims of an oppressive and broken system. Expecting them to do things to help themselves is just downright insensitive. There's a long list of excuses for why your suggestions, no matter how practical or obvious, just won't work. You can even point out factual errors in their assertions and assumptions, or their failure to reason logically. It doesn't matter. Like religious beliefs, their assumptions about the poor are part of the liberal creed. The same creed sees the poor as hard-working people struggling to get by and make ends meet. Good luck pointing out that many poor people have made horrible decisions in their lives, and that plenty waste too much of what little money they have on things like cigarettes, liquor, lottery tickets, and other luxuries they can ill afford. Like people of all social stratas, some poor people are in fact stupid, ignorant or lazy. All of this goes against the liberal creed that the poor are helpless victims who can only really be helped by government assistance -- and no matter how much government assistance there is already, it is never enough. But does the left's outright rejection of reality with regard to the poor mean that most liberals want to keep poor people in a state of poverty for political reasons? I don't think so.
In my opinion, most liberals who hold to the creed regarding the poor genuinely believe in their ideology. They really think that poor people are just victims of an unjust oppressive system, who can only be helped by massive assistance -- assistance which of course always involves more taxes and more government programs. They sbelieve that more handouts are the best way to help poor people. In other words, they truly see their ideas and policies as the way to help the poor. It isn't just cynical exploitation, although it might appear that way on the surface.
I do the occasional post where I highlight some left-wing blog post and call it "Laughing at the Left," because in my opinion, many left-wing views should be greeted with the derisive laughter that they deserve. I'm firmly in the camp that sees much of the left as naive fools, because the evidence overwhelmingly suggests that most should be regarded as fools, rather than as deliberately malevolent. There's nothing naive about regarding the left as naive. Obviously fools are often dangerous. But that doesn't mean we need to act like the left and assume evil motives on the part of our political opponents.