by Greg Krehbiel on 11 July 2013
Remember that incredibly short period of time during which Obamacare was debated? Democrats had to rush the gargantuan mess through the legislature while they had the momentum and the political capital to do so.
Criticisms and concerns were brushed aide — not just as invalid concerns, but — as the left so loves to caricature things — as the evil, nasty, brutish strategies of wicked Republicans who hate everybody.
The right also demonizes the left, of course, but if Jonathan Haidt’s research is to be believed, the left does it a lot more. In fact, the left (generally speaking) isn’t able to understand why conservatives think the way they do, so their default explanation for the incomprehensible ideas of conservatives is that conservatives are full of hatred.
Conservatives are against immigration and same-sex marriage because they hate immigrants and gays. Once you get this basic dynamic, social media makes so much more sense.
P.J. O’Rourke tells a story about driving near a college campus and seeing some demonstration by a leftist group. He asked his friend why, when something offends the left, there’s an organized demonstration, people have nice signs with clever slogans, they have chants and cheers and whatnot, but when something offends the right, you see two college Republicans, one holding up a lame sign and the other waving a flag.
His friend said, “Because we have jobs.”
There’s probably something to that, but I think the larger explanation is that conservatives tend to see liberal policies as sincere but misguided. We can understand where liberals are coming from, we just disagree. It’s not some Great Moral Crisis.
Liberals, on the other hand, see conservative policies as the return of Adolf Hitler, the crusades, the Spanish Inquisition and the slave trade. They can’t understand or relate to conservative thinking, so they think it’s all hatred. The result is that liberals are far more offended at what conservatives believe than vice versa. That explains the demonstrations, the truly hateful memes you regularly see on Facebook, the totally crazy comments you see on blogs, etc.
I think this also explains why conservatives flock to talk radio. Conservatives are weary of the way their views are regularly pilloried in the media. When you see a conservative and a liberal “debate” something on TV, the conservative tries to argue on the merits and the liberal accuses the conservative of bad motives. It happens all the time.
Of course I’m painting with a broad brush. Some conservatives can’t understand liberals and attribute their motives to evil communist plots or demonic possession or whatever. And then you have the new generation of conservative commentators — like Ann Coulter — who basically turns liberal rhetorical tactics back on the liberals.
Anyway, something along these lines seems to be going on with health care, except that this time we’re dealing with things that can be measured — like actual costs — and Republican criticisms are being vindicated. At least some of them are.
From the time that the health care law was first making its way through Congress, Democrats have consistently dismissed reasonable criticisms of the law, only to see critics later vindicated by events. Time and again, the administration has had to acknowledge that many provisions of the law – minor and major — are unworkable.
-- 2013-07-11 » Greg Krehbiel