The Liberal Mind Rejects Sad Facts
I recently devoted my biweekly column in the Jewish Journal of Los Angeles to analyzing why most Jews believe that people are basically good despite the fact that this belief is neither rational nor Jewish. In a lifetime of teaching and writing on Judaism, I have never encountered a single normative statement in 3,000 years of Jewish writing that asserted that man is basically good.
As I expected, the reaction -- apparently all from Jewish liberals -- was entirely negative. Almost an entire page of the journal was devoted to letters attacking me. One of the seven letters -- from a prominent Hollywood screenwriter -- bordered on hysteria.
The question is, why? Why would liberals in general, and Jewish liberals in particular -- given the Jews' singularly horrific history at the hands of other human beings -- react so strongly against someone who wrote that people are not basically good?
In my original article, I offered one explanation: Since the Enlightenment, the secular world has had to believe in man (or "humanity") because if you don't believe in God and you don't believe in humanity, you will despair.
But one critic opened my eyes to an even deeper reason most liberals do not acknowledge that people are not basically good. This is what he wrote: "What a sad world it would be if we all believed as Dennis Prager that mankind is inherently evil."
And this is what I responded: "I did not write that man is inherently evil. I wrote that he is not basically good. And, yes, that does make the world sad. So do disease, earthquakes, death and all the unjust suffering in the world. But sad facts remain facts." "A distinguishing characteristic of liberals and leftists," I concluded, "is their aversion to acknowledging sad facts."
Years ago, a woman writer, whose name I have unfortunately forgotten, first made me aware of this. She wrote about liberals rejecting many facts about male and female natures. She used the French expression "les faits de la vie" -- the facts of life. The left, she wrote, rejects les faits de la vie. I believe this is so for two reasons.
First, as with my correspondent above, people on the left tend to be unwilling to accept the sadness and pain that recognition of such facts creates. Leftism is often predicated on avoiding pain. That is a major reason why the left dislikes capitalism and free markets. Free markets create winners and losers, and the left does not like the fact that some people lose and some win.
This antipathy to having losers expresses itself on the micro level as well. Many liberals oppose children playing in competitive sports because they can lose -- sometimes by a big score. That is why many schools now emphasize "cooperation instead of competition." They do not want children experiencing the pain of losing, let alone losing by many points. That is also why liberals introduced the absurd idea of giving sports trophies to all kids who play, win or lose. God forbid that only the winners receive trophies; the kids who didn't win may experience pain.
Second, the left lives by theories and dogmas into which the facts of life must fit. That is why left-wing ideas are usually wishful thinking.
Though either explanation suffices, the two explanations reinforce each other. Here are four descriptive statements rejected by the left for these two mutually reinforcing reasons.
1. People are not basically good.
Leftists tend to reject this because a) It is too painful to accept, and b) it undermines the leftist dogma that people do bad because of outside forces -- poverty, capitalism, racism, etc.
2. Men and women are inherently different.
Leftists have rejected this idea because some of the differences are too emotionally upsetting to accept. Men are variety-driven by nature? Too upsetting. Women may have less yearning for, and ability in, math and engineering? Only a sexist like former Harvard president Lawrence Summers would say such a thing. Moreover, the belief that men and women are inherently different violates the left's foundational principle of equality. Many liberals admit that they reject talk of male-female differences because it can easily lead to gender inequality.
3. Black males disproportionately commit violent crime in America.
Leftist reactions to this truly painful fact are to label one who notes it a racist and to decry American society as racist because there are more black males in prison than in college.
4. The United Nations is a moral wasteland.
Since before the U.N.'s founding in 1945, liberals placed much of their hope for a peaceful world in the United Nations. That the U.N. has turned out to be an abettor more than a preventer of violence is a fact that the left finds too painful to acknowledge. And it violates the left-wing belief that nationalism is evil and internationalism is the solution.
It is generally believed that as people grow older, they reject much of the liberalism they believed in when they were young. This is true, and one reason is relevant here: As we get older, we tend to make peace with painful faits de la vie.
Big government goes hand in hand with big spending -- and both are now America's big problems
Like the Democrats' health care "reform" measure, the Debt Commission's initial recommendations, which will be followed by the full report Dec. 1 contains some good ideas, but the overall template remains flawed because it fails to address the main problem, which is government that encroaches on individual liberty, personal responsibility and living within one's means.
Federal spending now costs nearly $30,000 per household, according to Brian Riedl of The Heritage Foundation (www.heritage.org). That's because, he writes, just "in the past three years, the budget has leapt by $727 billion and now stands at $3.5 trillion." And that's without the cost of Obamacare and the burden to Social Security and Medicare retiring baby boomers will add.
The Debt Commission doesn't touch Obamacare, which, says Heritage analyst Alison Acosta Fraser, will add "at least $2.5 trillion over its first real decade of implementation, when both revenue and benefit payouts are included."
The Debt Commission summary assumes a role for government the Founders never intended it to have. Where is the reminder of Thomas Paine's dictum, "The government is best which governs least," or this from Thomas Jefferson: "...the principle of spending money to be paid by posterity, under the name of funding, is but swindling futurity on a large scale." Jefferson also said the "fore horse" of a society's decline is public debt: "Taxation follows that, and in its train wretchedness and oppression."
Are we to pay attention and learn from the likes of Paine and Jefferson only when their thoughts affirm what we wish to do in modern times, or were these men philosophers whose ideas are sound for all time?
There is nothing in this preliminary report about the joy of liberty and the responsibility of individuals to first care for themselves, turning to government when all else has failed rather than at the start, which can only lead to dependency and subsidized failure.
Every government agency and program should be periodically re-authorized. All spending should be justified before congressional committees responsible for oversight and reduced, or ended, if it fails to fulfill its purpose. The federal workforce must be reduced as the British coalition government has proposed doing in the UK. Individuals who make wise decisions, care for themselves and refuse Social Security and Medicare (which should be means-tested) ought to receive tax breaks. The government beast must be put on a diet.
Rep. Tom Cole, Oklahoma Republican, is on to something with a bill he has introduced (H.R. 4946). He wants to "put teeth back in the 10th Amendment." Cole argues "So much of the government overreach we've seen the past few years could be prevented just by enforcing the constitutional protections we already have." His bill -- the 10th Amendment Regulatory Reform Act -- would give "special standing to certain, specific state executive and legislative leaders that would allow them to challenge in federal court regulations issued by federal administrative agencies attempting to implement new federal laws or presidential executive orders."
That's a start, but it should be accompanied by history's lessons, which have much to teach us about debt. Playwright Henrik Ibsen said: "There can be no freedom or beauty about a home life that depends on borrowing and debt." That also applies to countries.
Economic and moral conservatives converging?
There was always a degree of alliance there but the Tea Partiers reveal that it is now very strong
Other than being the highest-profile Republican victims of Tea Party candidates, what do Lisa Murkowski, Mike Castle, Charlie Crist and Arlen Specter have in common?
Other than being tea party insurgents who routed establishment Republicans in high-profile primaries, what do Joe Miller, Marco Rubio, Christine O'Donnell, Pat Toomey, Sharron Angle in Nevada, Ken Buck in Colorado and Mike Lee in Utah have in common?
The answer, writes Tim Carney of The Washington Examiner, is that all the former are pro-choice on abortion, all the latter pro-life.
Tea Party types and pro-life conservatives seem to be twins separated at birth. Carney continues: "Almost without fail the strongest advocates of limited government in Congress are pro-life and vice versa. Think of (Jim) DeMint and (Tom) Coburn in the Senate and Ron Paul and Jeff Flake in the House. They top the scorecards of the National Taxpayers' Union and also have perfect scores from National Right to Life."
Carney's point: While all Tea Party insurgents and Tea Party-backed candidates seemed to agree on the economic issues -- deficits, debt, taxes, Obamacare -- they also seem united on other issues. Looking at the down-ballot battles in 2010, being pro-life is just one of them.
Three Iowa Supreme Court judges who ruled that the state constitution requires recognition of same-sex marriages were denied retention, and Gov. Terry Branstad campaigned for giving Iowans a referendum to decide if they wish to outlaw it.
Tea Party types and Iowa conservatives were not only opposed to the idea of men marrying men, they detest the idea of judicial dictatorship.
In Arizona, Ward Connerly's anti-affirmative action initiative, which prohibits race, gender and ethnic preferences, won with 60 percent of the vote. Michigan, California and Washington have already adopted the Connerly amendment.
Tea Partiers also united to back the Arizona law that requires cops to determine the immigration status of any whom, in a routine police encounter, they suspect of being an illegal alien.
Passage of the law last April brought crazed comparisons with Nazi Germany. Opponents tended to go mute, however, when they learned that 70 percent of America stood with Arizona. GOP candidates for governor subsequently ran on pledges to adopt similar statutes.
In Oklahoma, a proposition to prohibit use of Shariah law in state courts passed with 70 percent. Shariah law is the basis of law in many Muslim countries, as the Bible was once the basis of much law in America.
What do these overlooked stories of Election Day 2010 teach?
Far more than the Beltway Right, the Tea Party is in tune with the heart of America -- not only on taxes, spending and Obamacare, but on social, cultural and moral issues. National Republicans may stay out of these bloody battles, but they hold great potential for bringing out voters and driving wedges through Obama's national base.
Consider. Establishment Republicans recoil from the issue of gay marriage. But, in 2008, while McCain was winning 5 percent of the African-American vote in California, blacks in California, urged on by pastors and preachers, voted 70 percent to outlaw same-sex marriage.
The pro-life position is also a far more popular cause among black and Hispanic Americans than is the Republican Party.
Oklahoma's prohibition against any use of Shariah law should be seen as a cry from the heart of America that we are and wish to remain a Western nation, a predominantly Christian country, and we wish to be ruled by our Constitution and laws enacted pursuant to it.
The national outpouring of support for Arizona after that state came under attack for its law requiring suspected illegal aliens to show ID demonstrates how explosive the immigration-amnesty issue is. Republicans should not run away from it, for our elites are further out of touch with the people on this issue than any other.
As for the Connerly amendment abolishing affirmative action, if the GOP wishes to win in 2012, the party will put this measure on every possible state ballot, especially crucial states like Pennsylvania and Ohio.
What this panoply of issues testifies to is the true identity of the Tea Party. These folks are not single-issue voters, and they are not motivated by pocketbook issues alone. They have seen the America they grew up in virtually vanish. Look at how far we have traveled.
We seem no longer able to balance our budgets, win our wars or secure our borders. Compared to what our culture was, it is a running sewer today. Working-class wages and middle-class incomes seem to have been stagnant for decades. Factories and jobs continue to hemorrhage to Asia. Company towns become ghost towns. Made in China has replaced Made in America. And as one drives through cities and suburbs, one encounters vast concentrations of people who speak some language other than our own.
The Tea Party people are rising up to take their country back, and that's why they're not going away.
Tea party senators stare down McConnell on earmark ban: "In a surprise reversal, Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell (R) of Kentucky announced today that he will join House GOP leaders in voting to ban ‘earmarks’ — member projects often criticized as pork barrel spending — thus avoiding an early clash with tea party freshmen committed to ending the practice. The issue was seen as a litmus test of how far the Republican leadership would go to satisfy freshmen lawmakers and the tea party movement that propelled some of them to victory. In the past, Senate Republicans have defended their right to use earmarks, but the process has been a primary tea party complaint.”
Tax-cut extension deal takes shape on Hill: "The White House and Republicans in Congress edged ever closer to a deal Sunday on at least a temporary extension of all of the George W. Bush-era tax breaks that are due to expire at the end of the year. White House senior political adviser David Axelrod and Sen. Jim DeMint, the South Carolina Republican who has emerged as a major power broker for the chamber's ascendant conservative bloc, signaled in appearances on Sunday talk shows a willingness to cut a deal in the lame-duck session of Congress that convenes Monday. The two sides, however, remain well short of an agreement. With taxpayers facing major increases in their tax bills after Jan. 1, congressional Republicans have pressed for a permanent extension of all the tax cuts. Mr. Obama and congressional Democrats, citing what they say is the negative effects the cuts will have on deficits, want to preserve "middle-class" tax breaks while ending them for wealthier Americans."
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The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)