Liberals Wouldn't Have to be So Condescending if The People Who Disagreed With Them Weren't Such Idiots

Writing in the Wash Post, Univ. of Virginia political scientist Gerard Alexander assays the long tradition of liberal intellectual condescension (seen in recent years in such moments as Obama's remark about jes' plain folks clinging to religion and guns, reactions to Sarah Palin, and with virtually every utterance on Countdown with Keith Olbermann):

Liberals have dismissed conservative thinking for decades, a tendency encapsulated by Lionel Trilling's 1950 remark that conservatives do not "express themselves in ideas but only in action or in irritable mental gestures which seek to resemble ideas." During the 1950s and '60s, liberals trivialized the nascent conservative movement. Prominent studies and journalistic accounts of right-wing politics at the time stressed paranoia, intolerance and insecurity, rendering conservative thought more a psychiatric disorder than a rival. In 1962, Richard Hofstadter referred to "the Manichaean style of thought, the apocalyptic tendencies, the love of mystification, the intolerance of compromise that are observable in the right-wing mind."

Full disclosure: Alexander is a friend of mine. He identifies four basic liberal narratives about conservatives that systematically undermine the need for engagement with, or even serious consideration of, opposing viewpoints. The piece chock full of contemporary examples pulled from sources ranging from President Obama to Al Gore to Markos Moulitsas to Rick Perlstein. I don't think he's cherry-picking here. He concludes:

Liberal narratives not only justify the dismissal of conservative thinking as biased or irrelevant -- they insist on it. By no means do all liberals adhere to them, but they are mainstream in left-of-center thinking.

Indeed, when the president met with House Republicans in Baltimore recently, he assured them that he considers their ideas, but he then rejected their motives in virtually the same breath. "There may be other ideas that you guys have," Obama said. "I am happy to look at them, and I'm happy to embrace them. . . . But the question I think we're going to have to ask ourselves is, as we move forward, are we going to be examining each of these issues based on what's good for the country, what the evidence tells us, or are we going to be trying to position ourselves so that come November, we're able to say, 'The other party, it's their fault'?"

Alexander also includes a "to be sure" graf about how some conservatives pull the same trick, though I think he underplays that point. He winds things up by noting that we need trans-ideological discussion now more than ever.

Perhaps the most important conservative insight being depreciated is the durable warning from free-marketeers that government programs often fail to yield what their architects intend. Democrats have been busy expanding, enacting or proposing major state interventions in financial markets, energy and health care. Supporters of such efforts want to ensure that key decisions will be made in the public interest and be informed, for example, by sound science, the best new medical research or prudent standards of private-sector competition. But public-choice economists have long warned that when decisions are made in large, centralized government programs, political priorities almost always trump other goals.

Even liberals should think twice about the prospect of decisions on innovative surgeries, light bulbs and carbon quotas being directed by legislators grandstanding for the cameras. Of course, thinking twice would be easier if more of them were listening to us at all.

Read the whole thing here.

One correction is certainly in order: Let us be clear. That durable warning about government programs failing is really a libertarian insight, as conservatives who were convinced that the U.S. army could resculpt the Middle East and Afghanistan for well under $100 billion back in the early 2000s could surely tell you. That's an important distinction to make because libertarians are all-too-often dismissed as not worthy of engagement by liberals and conservatives alike, ostensibly because we don't have a tribal affiliation with a major political party and/or aren't "serious" about governing. That latter point may be true: We tend to be less interested in governing than living, dammit. And the two things are definitely very different.

Yet when you look at the main eggheads, cracked or otherwise, who undergird what passes for conservative political thought, many if not most are libertarian (Hayek and Friedman to name two).

This op-ed is a warm up for a lecture Alexander is giving on Monday at The American Enterprise Institute. If you're in the DC area and want more details on attending "Do Liberals Know Best? Intellectual Self-Confidence and the Claim to a Monopoly on Knowledge," go here.

Bonus video: The New York Times' Sam Tanenhaus discusses the (intellectual) Death of Conservatism on Reason.tv.

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • ||

    "conservatives do not "express themselves in ideas but only in action"

    Actions speak louder than words you ignorant Liberal bitches.

  • Tony||

    And conservatives speak louder than liberals. That just makes them noisier, not righter.

  • ||

    What you posted? It's just plain stupid, Tony.

  • Ed Schultz||

    I'm one loud sonofabitch, Tony. You DO listen to my show, right?

  • Chris Matthews||

    I shout stupid shit every day on my show, Tony. And you should be watching, as I need the viewers.

  • ||

    Obviously Tony's never seen Bloviatin' Bob Beckel in action.

  • JB||

    The most close-minded people I know are liberals.

  • ||

    They also tend to be the most reality-challenged.

  • freeforall232||

    It's my experience that the opposite is true simply because Conservatives believe they have righteousness on their side when they're criminalizing drugs and the gays. They think that because the Fouding Fathers believed in God that we should legislate morality. That's pretty close-minded in my view.

    Liberals may be a little more open-minded, it's just that they struggle intellectually with most basic concepts and logical reasoning.

  • ||

    I agree that some conservatives have blind spots, particularly on religious matters, but they still live on this planet and have some vague feeling that government shouldn't be too big and too involved in the marketplace.

    My preference is for neither party to have complete control, that's for sure.

  • freeforall232||

    "My preference is for neither party to have control..."

    I agree with you that it is more dangerous to have one political party with all the power, but I don't believe we would be any closer to a Constitutional government even if Congress was split 50/50 between conservatives and liberals. My belief is that it comes down to a blatant disrespect (or complete ignorance) of the Constitution.

    Both Conservatives and Liberals want to use the government to forge their own agenda and that's where the real friction betwen the parties lives.

    Neither side ever questions why the government should control citizens, they just argue about how to control citizens.

  • ||

    It's only a lesser risk, not zero risk. Both parties love big government too much to be trusted at all, even during gridlock.

  • Tony||

    Blah blah blah...

    It surely is convenient that every policy preference you happen to hold gets the imprimatur of the constitution, while every policy position you are opposed to is allegedly unconstitutional.

  • ||

    Oh, please. You don't give a shit about constitutional limits if they get in the way of something you want the government to do. I want a Mars colony, but I don't really think the government should be doing it.

    Most libertarians have as their goals two things--lots of liberty and limited government. Neither of those are truly goals of the left.

  • Johnny Longtorso||

    If you push for centralized government power (whether economic for liberals or moral/social for progressives), you inevitably wind up w/ the question, who should have that centralized power? The answer is clear - you should. Therefore, you have no choice but to treat those who disagree with total contempt, because your entire viewpoint ultimately boils down to the 'fact' that you are morally and/or intellectually superior enough to deserve power over the immoral and stupid cattle.

    Giving up contempt for others means acknowledging they can make correct decisions, which means giving up the belief that those decisions should be made by you via Washington DC.

    You CANNOT both treat me with respect and believe you deserve half my paycheck for my own good. If I need you that much, you can only look down on me.

  • Johnny Longtorso||

    Sorry, that should be "moral/social for conservatives" above.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Who dropped a nickel in Gillespie's slot? That's four posts in one morning.

  • Warty||

    Enough with the innuendo.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    If only I was more into leather.

  • Johnny Longtorso||

    There is no Bot but the Anon Bot, and Pingback is its prophet.

    Anon Akabar!!

  • Warty||

    LOL I think you're really on to something here dude!

    anonymous-douce.se.tc

  • Ska||

    No jess signoff?

  • Warty||

    Fuck, I always fuck this up d00d!

    GD

    www.anonymous-douche.se.tc

  • ||

    Ha, pass me a leg man!

  • smartass sob||

    Akabot, don't you mean?

  • Chris||

    Thomas Sowell did a good job of showing this in his three books:
    A Conflict of Visions
    The Quest for Cosmic Justice
    The Vision of the Anointed

    I bet most of you people have already read them, but for those who haven't, they're a fun read.

  • Harry Reid||

    I think that he has been an embarrassment to the field of economics. I think that his books are poorly written. I don't--I just don't think that he's done a good job as a scholar.He should stick to mopping the floor and emptying wastebaskets at the Hoover Institution

  • Chris||

    Wow, did Harry Reid actually say that?

  • Chris||

    Or something similar?

  • JB||

    He said similar comments about Clarence Thomas.

    Reid is a racist little bitch.

  • Patch 2,398||

    It's part and parcel in Mormonism.

  • Paul Krugman||

    I *know* Harry isn't talking about me, because I'm one of the good guys!

  • Harry Reid||

    You're a credit to your race Dr Krugman.

  • Slut Bunwalla||

    His race of furry, mongoloid troll people?

  • anonymous||

    I thought he was an Ewok?

  • Wicket(TM)||

    We drummed him out of the tribe. We hunter-gatherers have no use for pompous layabouts like Krugman.

  • Coeus||

    That durable warning about government programs failing is really a libertarian insight, as conservatives who were convinced that the U.S. army could resculpt the Middle East and Afghanistan for well under $100 billion back in the early 2000s could surely tell you.
    Don't worry, they'll go right back to ignoring libertarian ideas as soon as they get back in power. Then the democrats can start falsly trumpeting libertarian social freedom insights. Rinse then repeat. It's kinda like the song "The Circle of Life" but with fewer lions and a lot more assholes.

  • Slut Bunwalla||

    Fewer lions? But what will we tow?

  • Mitchell Freedman||

    I guess I'd be rich enough to buy Reason.org if I was paid a buck for every time some conservative gave me the Churchill line "If you're 20 and not a liberal, you have no heart. If you're 40 and not a conservative, you have no brain."

    What does the good professor and Mr. Gillespie think of that sort of arrogance emanating from conservatives?

    The whole "If you knew anything about business..." line is another conservative favorite.

  • Warty||

    Howard Zinn died yesterday. He was 87 years old. He was one of the most transformative historians in American culture. You are not the same person after you read even part of "The People's History of the United States." Once you read the book--I wish more would read it all and not just part--you begin to understand how many threads of unsung people were truly the ones who gave our nation the gifts we cherish, and how the struggle for greatness in our nation is one where we have moments to act, and little more.

    Tell me more.

  • Warty||

    Seriously, tell me more. I only have moments to act, and little more!

  • Brett L||

    Yes, yes. All intelligent people agree with me, therefore people who disagree with me aren't intelligent. As if smart people never come to errant conclusions through unexamined assumptions and incomplete data.

    On the plus side, watching hubris eat people's souls is entertaining to me. If that makes me petty, I'm okay with it.

  • Fluffy||

    I think to a certain extent, the times that liberals find conservatives "intolerant of compromise" are actually the times when they're either actually dealing with libertarians, or dealing with a policy area where there is libertarian/conservative overlap.

    After all, there really are no grounds for liberals to claim that conservatives are intolerant of compromise in most foreign policy and social policy areas. Conservatives compromise with liberals all the time over the question of how many foreigners to kill, or how long to put people in jail for buying too much cough medicine.

    So it's really the libertarian mindset that liberals can't compromise with, and not the conservative mindset.

    And that's because the libertarian mindset is rights-based and the liberal mindset is either equality-based or participation-based. And those various mindsets really can't cooperate with each other.

    To a liberal, since no one ultimately possesses any rights that aren't up for negotiation either to benefit "equality" or to allow for community decision-making, there is no reason not to "compromise" on every issue. To a libertarian, all the things a liberal wants to compromise on aren't up for negotiation, and even putting them up for negotiation in the first place is a total and absolute capitulation of the libertarian viewpoint.

  • KnuckleDragger||

    And that's because the libertarian mindset is rights-based and the liberal mindset is either equality-based or participation-based. And those various mindsets really can't cooperate with each other.

    Except on the issues of apologizing to our enemies and having sex with children.

  • freeforall232||

    "Except on the issues of apologizing to our enemies and having sex with children"

    Please explain.

  • JB||

    Well stated.

  • Chris||

    There seem to be two types of conservatives, and only one type of liberal. There's the stereotypical god-and-country "knuckle-draggers" as liberals call them, and the intellectual conservative that actually has a viewpoint arrived at by thought and analysis. Liberals write all conservatives off as the first group, thinking that the other group's ideas are extensions of ignorance. The irony is that the intellectualism of liberals is often only surface deep. They generally only care about appearing smart, rather than arriving at the truth. Hence the rigid insistence on public policy that they all agree to be right (morally right as well), even though it's been clearly demonstrated to just fuck shit up.

  • ||

    Yeah...no. There are your "knuckle-dragging" (heart-bleeding) liberals, and there are intellectual liberals. You can read plenty of liberal/progressive analysis, planning, it's all there, like it or not. Neither of these two poles is homogeneous.

  • Chris||

    I beg to differ. I actually have a far majority of liberal friends (I live in Chicago), and so I have to hear this shit all the time. All their arguments, regardless of their level of intelligence, derive from the same assumptions, whereas the two different groups classified as conservatives generally operate from different assumptions. Or maybe that's just my experience.

  • ||

    Nah, the second non-knuckle dragging group of conservatives is just a bunch of greedy corporation guys being all corporationy in their corporation buildings.

  • anonymous||

    I think there are plenty of liberals who are motivated by simple compassion (rather than, say, an ideology like Marxists) but fail to consider the negative consequences or internal contradictions of their beliefs.

    On the other hand, people like aren't usually terribly political.

  • Tony||

    Intellectual conservatism certainly existed at one point, but never as a coherent worldview or something that could inform public policy in any robust or practicable way.

    Almost every single instance of progress and human betterment in the West has been through liberalism. I suppose conservatism is valuable in that it pushes back on the excesses of liberalism, but I don't see it as ever having been a coherent political philosophy.

    But really I'm talking about people who are mostly dead. Whatever conservatism once was, intellectual conservatism plays absolutely no role in modern political discourse. The dominant strain in American conservatism today is highly anti-intellectual to the point of being borderline fascist (in terms of being an authoritarian, nationalist, xenophobic right-wing movement). It's not part of any rational political discourse, even though it tends to dominate political narratives.

  • ||

    SHUT THE FUCK UP, TONY.

  • The Libertarian Guy||

    I'm surprised Tony didn't work the word "bigoted" into his post above. Like people can be bigoted about elitists from EITHER side of the aisle.

  • Chris||

    A foil you are not, Chony. If anything, you've proven the point.

  • Tyler||

    Your statement contains some truths, but a few I've got nits to pick.

    First of all, you seem to be using a left v. right or "liberal" v. "conservative" narrative. As someone who is so well versed in political narratives, you ought to know better.

    Also, I think that if you are willing to classify Oakeshott as a conservative, then his views are pretty coherent. But I haven't read too much of his stuff so I admit a certain level of ignorance on the subject. My point is that your dismissal of all conservatism as incoherant is unfair.

    Also, I'm supposing that with such a solid knowledge of liberalism, you are aware that the positives you attribute to it come from true liberalism. Not the bs "liberalism," which is just statism in disguise, that you used in your "liberal" v. "conservative" narrative.

    Also, I do believe that modern "liberalism" dominates the public discourse at least as much as "conservatism" does. Especially among academics. The main thing that is missing is TRUE liberalism, or what has been renamed as libertarianism.

  • Tony||

    My belief that conservative philosophy is incoherent would take a long time to explain, but for the sake of a blog I'll grant that conservatism has a robust and honorable history. It just doesn't exist anymore.

    I don't know what "statism" is other than a catchall pejorative libertarians like to use for anyone who believes in more government than they're comfortable with.

    Liberalism certain dominates in academia (though not business schools).

    But as far as I'm concerned our politics and political discourse are totally dominated from the right. This is not only because of the ubiquity of corporate influence on these things. It's also the notion--that libertarians pretty much universally adopt--that there's some sort of false equivalency between left and right that never changes with time. So as the right moves further and further away from basic sanity, the center of political discourse follows. On one side you have a moderate liberal sheepishly offering some piecemeal reform ideas, on the other you have a flat earther, flat taxer, birther, or something. The big disconnect with me is that while everyone on the right (libertarians included) are going batshit hysterical over socialism, I'm wondering when even modest liberal ideas are gonna make it into the mainstream.

  • Chris||

    Liberal ideas are the mainstream, at least in the media. I guess we're all too stupid to know what's good for us.

  • The Libertarian Guy||

    Conversely, Tony and his ilk want X amount of government, and X increases every year, ad infinitum.

  • Nipplemancer||

    My belief that conservative philosophy is incoherent

    fify

  • ||

    My belief that conservative philosophy is incoherent would take a long time to explain

    What, you don't have the skill to pull it out of your ass on the spot like Krugman does?

    -jcr

  • ||

    Tony is a sockpuppet designed to push libertarian and conservative buttons. You are engaging someone's fictional creation. You might not want to waste your time.

  • Tyler||

    Haha, it worked out exactly as I wanted it to. All in good fun.

    The thought of someone fuming as they respond to my sarcastic comment cracks me up, even though I'm pretty sure it's just another clever jackass like me thinking Tyler is the fuming one trying to defend his precious ideas.

    Trolling might just be the most interesting art to come out of the Internet.

  • ||

    I accidentally engaged in dialogue with him in another thread. Sometimes, if you squint a bunch through a piece of paper, he almost seems quasi-real.

    I thought he was you for a while, but he posts too early. And you usually know when to end a joke.

  • ||

    Did I say another thread? I meant this thread.

  • Me||

    Most liberals are dead... Bastiat, Molinari, Sumner...

  • anonymous||

    Fascism may have been anti-intellectual, but that doesn't mean anything anti-intellectual is fascist. Shit, it's not as though the Cultural Revolution was any better.

    Besides, most conservatives are cynical about higher education predominantly because, rather than a haven for freedom of thought, universities are Sunday School for state worshipers.

    Once institutions become as intellectually inbred as American universities, being "educated" is no longer a valuable signifier to anyone who doesn't already like the taste of the Koolaid.

  • ||

    Gee Tony, I'll bet you heard about some guy named Beck and never bothered (too busy looking through your Yale yearbook) to watch him for more than 2 minutes. That's because it would negate your argument...and then what would you do at the nect cocktail party?

  • ||

    the durable warning from free-marketeers that government programs often fail to yield what their architects intend.

    Understatement.

  • ||

    The liberal/conservative, left/right paradigm (forgive my use of that word)has not been useful or meaningful for a very long time. I'm not sure that it ever was. The conflict is between collectivism and individualism. Collectivists come in all ilks, but they all have authoritarianism in common. Individualists are all, well, individualists. The real purpose of the left/right, conservative/liberal thing is to obfuscate the real issues and to frame any debate in such a way that it is impossible to get to the bottom of things. The reason libertarians/individualists can not compete in the political arena is precisely because the are not collectivists. It is tough to be individualists together. Politics is about collectivism, so libertarians are not even playing on the same field or playing the same game.

  • robc||

    I thought it was stasist vs dynamist.

    Back when Postrel was running reason.... (its 5 Oclock somewhere)

  • freeforall232||

    Hi dwcarkuff. I tend to disagree with your conclusion. I believe you can have a group of individualists come together to work for a common cause. Just look at our country's beginnings. Those who fought the British did so, not because they lusted for control of the colonies, but because they wanted every man to have the freedom to live his life as he pleases.

    Liberals and Conservatives use the government to promise you things like "security" or "equality". Libertarians only expect that you be responsible for your life. That's why libertarianism is no longer as popular. People want things, not consequences.

  • ||

    Intellectual conservatism certainly existed at one point, but never as a coherent worldview or something that could inform public policy in any robust or practicable way.

    zzzzzzzzzzzznnnnpph

  • ||

    Props to the Post. Good article.

  • ||

    I realize I am no intellectual match for the heavyweights of thought on the left. After all, silly me believes that trillion dollar deficits for as far as the eye can see may be detrimental to the well being of America.

  • Tony||

    Well, here's good liberal Paul Krugman to set you straight.

  • Chris||

    I've concluded that you're just Gillespie or Welch fucking with us.

  • Warty||

    Deficits just mean we're richer, you colossal fool.

  • White Pawn||

    The Black Pawns are arrogant, and they cheat!

  • Black Pawn||

    Screw you! The White Pawns are stupid but aggressive losers!

  • Chessmaster||

    Keep it up.

  • Ultimate Frisbee||

    Anyone for a game of ultimate frisbee?

  • ||

    HUCK IT DEEP

  • ||

    Stall 1
    Stall 2

  • ¢||

    So it's really the libertarian mindset that liberals can't compromise with, and not the conservative mindset. And that's because the libertarian mindset is rights-based and the liberal mindset is either equality-based or participation-based.

    First part yes, second part no. You're treating liberal rhetoric as if it's not bullshit. Always a mistake.

    While they're saying "equality" and "voice" and crap, what do they actually do? Gang up on people who refuse to talk like them (or whose mode of existence otherwise thwarts them), using the state as an intermediary/enforcer.

    Libertarianism is a theory of politics. Liberalism is a political identity. (So is conservatism, frequently. But it's not only that. It's also a set of practical objections to and dissents from libertarianism.) They're like oil and water evil robots with flamethrowers.

  • Frolf||

    Ultimate Frisbee sucks. I prefer Frolf, the game of kings.

  • ||

    I like Disc Golf, because Frolf sounds like a sex act between a Snowman and an elf.

    And not a sexy kind if sex act, either.

  • Ska||

    And by snowman I'm thinking one of those fat Guess models that were being linked to a month ago.

    The elf is still just an elf.

  • Chris||

    You're not far from the truth here. I met the guy that invented the game, and he owns a fucking castle.

  • ||

    You suck. Ultimate is great fun, you just have to have, you know, FRISBEE SKILLS.

    Why do I have Frisbee skills?

  • ||

    Because the rotating disc is sublime, man, and that's how you roll.

  • robc||

    hmmmm...should find a 40+ ultimate league this summer, I like being on the low end of an age range. I wonder if there have been many strategic changes in the nearly 20 years since I played competitively.

  • Tony||

    Why doesn't Nick or anyone else defend what the GOP actually said during the debate with the president?

    It's just whine, whine, whine. Obama is dismissing all their brilliant insights into governance because he's an arrogant liberal! What were those brilliant insights again? Oh yeah, as the president pointed out, they were focus-grouped talking points of absolutely no substance. I'm sorry your pets in the GOP were made to look like fools. That's hardly Obama's fault. Maybe reason ought to give up on this little project of cheerleading for Republicans? After all, when you have to resort to whining about the poor, unfair treatment of a dingbat like Sarah Palin (who has no qualms about calling the president and his every name in the book), you've done nothing but expose your partisanship. Sometimes people and political movements are just stupid. Even if they agree with you that taxes should never go up.

  • Ratko||

    What you bawling about, twat?

  • Patch 2,398||

    "Why doesn't Nick or anyone else defend what the GOP actually said during the debate with the president?"

    Because they're not republicans you shit-slurping fuckbag?

  • T||

    Why doesn't Nick or anyone else defend what the GOP actually said during the debate with the president?

    Because the GOP has plenty of house organs and other sycophants to apologize and defend their position? Said position, to our minds, being just as ignorant and pigheaded as, well, you?

  • ||

    Yes, "substance" and Obama go hand in hand. If the substance in question is bullshit, I guess.

    I'm not interested in defending the GOP, but at least they aren't kissing the Prince of Doofuses' ass.

  • Democrats||

    It's NEVER our fault!

  • anonymous||

    People are still angry about eight years of Snowbush.

  • ||

    Why doesn't Nick or anyone else defend what the GOP actually said during the debate with the president?

    When did it become Nick's job to defend non-Libertarians?

    -jcr

  • Ratko||

    I see Nick Gillespie hasn't died from his fish pedicure yet. As of yesterday John Stossel was also still living. Those two thrill seekers never could pass up a chance to look death square in the eye sockets and laugh.

  • Chris||

    He won immortality and his leather jacket from the Fonz in a motorcycle stunt contest.

  • spambot||

    Do you just cut and paste from other blogs dude? There are not many Republican or Palin fans that post here. I mean you are the ultimate straw man slayer.

  • Tony||

    Bullshit.

    For one thing, poxing both houses gives undue credit to the worse house, and is lazy thinking.

    Secondly, this place never misses an opportunity to bash Democrats. Obama could pardon a turkey and there'd be a socialist plot behind it that reason would vigilantly uncover, all the while treating dangerous morons like Sarah Palin with kid gloves.

  • Chris||

    re Palin: There is no fun in beating a dead horse.
    re socialist plots: you're attempting to beat a horse that doesn't exist. A unicorn, perhaps. Link to a single Reason blog post about a socialit plot that wasn't being ironic.

  • ||

    this place never misses an opportunity to bash Democrats.

    It's because they so richly deserve it and provide so, so many opportunities to do so.

    I am no Republican, but I cannot grok your adherence to the believe that the modern liberals are somehow "superior" in any respect to the modern conservatives. I find much to criticize and revile on both sides, but a major distinction is that I don't see modern conservatives trying to completely reinvent the country into something never intended by the framers of the Constitution and not authorized by the Constitution. Which is not to say the Repubs don't introduce stupid legislation - they certainly do - but I haven't seen anything imposing majoritarian will over individual liberties on anything near the scale that the Dems do.

    You continue to assert that the Dems and libs are somehow "better" than the Repubs and cons, but I'm sure as hell not seeing it.

  • spambot||

    Show me some Republicans in a place of power and we'll bash them Tony. Oh wait....

    Should have been around during the Bush years, this blog was no friend to Republicans by and large.

    My point is, if you want to argue about Democratic policy do it. But you just look like a bigger idiot trying to call everyone here that doesn't see things your way a Republican.

    I mean hell most posters here are pissed at Obama because the war we hated still rages on. Where is that Hope and Change bitch? You put yourself in the position of defending Bush policies that are now deemed ok because the jersey on the leader changed to blue.

    At least the likes of joe were smart enough to realize they could not defend that and split. So all we are left with for counterpoints are dipshits like you Tony.

  • Tony||

    Perhaps you're right and this place was a hotbed of GOP criticism during the Bush years.

    But now for the most part all I see are a handful of thoughtful, pox-both-houses libertarians, and a bunch of wingnut morons who make no secret of their crush on the GOP.

    The most disingenuous thing I see is a support of the GOP in the service of gridlocking government. It's curious the moments libertarians choose to become pragmatist, when they spend most of their time being idealists.

  • Rabbit Scribe||

    For the record: there's no "perhaps" about it. H&R comments were overwhelmingly critical of the Bush administration from Jan 00 to Jan 08. The volume of flames directed at Federal drug warrior stupid was easily the equivalent of today's flames directed at 3 trillion dollar deficit stupid.

  • Amakudari||

    The most disingenuous thing I see is a support of the GOP in the service of gridlocking government. It's curious the moments libertarians choose to become pragmatist, when they spend most of their time being idealists.

    "That government is best which governs least" and such. There's nothing wrong with preferring libertarian issues and outcomes over a Libertarian candidate. Defeating another off-balance sheet multi-billion dollar unfunded liability was more important to most people than getting another Kennedy elected (ha).

    Likewise, the reason people voted for Dems the last two elections had more to do with rejecting the wars and Republican governance, not endorsement of Democratic pet issues.

  • Tony||

    Even if you completely disagree with Democrats on matters of policy, at least they haven't been taken over by anti-intellectuals and religious fundamentalists. At least they didn't make torture US policy. At least they believe in science.

    I actually have no great love for the current Democratic party. But be practical here. We'll have to disagree on what the founders wanted this country to look like (not that it's necessarily all that relevant to how it should look today), but you can't have your own facts. The GOP has radically remade this country far more than Democrats, who've been spending the last few decades trying to hang onto the vestiges of the society that existed when this country was at its peak.

  • robc||

    Wait what? The GOP radically remade it? The New deal (and especially the supreme court of the time) made the biggest changes. Unless you want to argue that Lincoln changed things more than FDR.

  • Tony||

    The New Deal is part of what made this country the prosperous and powerful place I was referring to. Republicans have spent the ensuing years trying to dismantle it and turn the US into a banana republic with nukes, all the while calling it freedom.

  • Spoonman||

    How did extending the Depression make America richer?

  • Gilbert Martin||

    "The New Deal is part of what made this country the prosperous and powerful place"

    LOL

    You aren' the least bit capable of proving a single word of that statement.

  • Spoonman||

    Oh, right, because Gitmo has closed under Obama, right assmaster?

  • Michael Ejercito||

    Oh, right, because Gitmo has closed under Obama, right assmaster?


    We could close it faster if we stopped taking new prisoners.

    Just kill terrorists upon capturing them, and we will not need Gitmo.

  • Tony||

    Just kill terrorists upon capturing them

    Because you believe in freedom!

    Hey asshat, a person isn't a terrorist just because the government says so. Or did you miss middle school civics?

  • Michael Ejercito||

    Because you believe in freedom!


    As it turns out, terrorists do not wear uniforms, and as such, do not get the protections of the POW.

    A terrorist outside our borders has no claim to U.S. constitutional protections.

  • Tony||

    And the U.S. has no jurisdiction outside its borders, so what's your point?

  • spambot||

    "Even if you completely disagree with Democrats on matters of policy, at least they haven't been taken over by anti-intellectuals and religious fundamentalists. At least they didn't make torture US policy. At least they believe in science."

    Yep still not a Republican here so what is your point? You continue to prove my point by showing that you don't know who the hell you are arguing with.

    Where were those Dems when we needed them to fillabuster and stop the Patriot Act and the war in Iraq? Oh I know, making deals for goodies for themselves. Fuck you if you think Dems are the good guys because they are not as religious and believe in science. There are no good guys asshat! Just a bunch of folks trying to tell you what to do because they think they know better (both of them). LOL you are the dumbest because you believe they are actually trying to help you.

  • Tony||

    I'm presenting reasons why the parties are not equally evil. It would be quite unlikely if that were the case anyway, although it certainly is less intellectually taxing to believe that.

    I believe two things that seem foreign concepts here: 1) Not all politicians are evil. Some Democrats are in fact trying to help Americans. Many are bought and paid for and don't care about Americans. If you like, I'll say the same about the GOP, but they've been owned longer and have been steadily purging reasonable people from their ranks. Not everything is black and white.

    2) When you vote, you are not voting for an individual, but for a party. And you only have two choices. They're not great choices, but it's what you're stuck with.

    Your political nihilism may be easy, but it's pretty useless.

  • Spoonman||

    If all the Republicans and many of the Democrats are bought and paid for - and Obama's certainly on that list - why do you trust government?

  • Tony||

    I don't think Obama is on that list. I think he has to deal with a Congress infested with people who are, though, as well as other power centers in the country such as the financial industry.

    Trusting government. Hmm. Wouldn't it be nice if we could all trust our own government? I just want it to be less dysfunctional. Libertarians aren't helping in that endeavor because they like it when government doesn't work, as it proves them right.

  • Spoonman||

    Claiming Obama isn't a tool of special interests is simply a lie.

  • spambot||

    No I just can sleep at night because I choose not to contribute to the problem. I would LOVE to see that list of politicians who are really trying to help. The only one I know of is Ron Paul and the reason I know it is because lobbyists don't pay you shit if you vote no on everything. Maybe Dennis Kucinich for the same reasons but he needs to read a few econ text books but at least he didn't suck Republican dick on the War On Terror in hopes that it would get him re elected.

  • ||

    I think Dick needs to be capitalized in your otherwise accurate assessment, spambot.

  • T||

    First off, it doesn't matter if the parties aren't equally as evil. When your choice is between Pol Pot or Mao, it ain't much of a choice. For every thing you can point to and claim is the fault of teh evil republicans, I can find at least one democrat who supported it. In the current era, I can find donks who flip-flopped once they got power and are now continuing the exact same efenant policies.

    Which brings us to our next point: you are fundamentally wrong on your second point. You are voting for an individual, not a party. Individuals can, and do, vote against their party on issues that are important to them. If this weren't the case, every single vote in Congress would be a strict party line vote and anybody with a clue who pays attention knows that just ain't so. It becomes even more muddy down at the state & local level. You may believe this, but it's certainly not true. the fact you are willing to believe (and trumpet) arrant nonsense says everything we need to know about your political views.

  • spambot||

    Don't blame me T, I voted for Pol Pot, Chomsky said he was cool.

  • Tony||

    Your choice isn't between two evil authoritarians, though. This hysterical hyperbole mixed with nihilism is certainly no solution to anything.

    It's not a good time in Congress's history to be arguing that we're voting for individuals. Most issues are party-line, and even the most mavericky Republicans are strong-armed into sticking with the party these days. My only point is, you're not accomplishing anything merely by voting for the better candidate (say Scott Brown). If you want something from Congress you need to see that it has a majority capable of delivering it.

  • T||

    So your message is vote for the shittier candidate because he's in the majority party? WTF? Perhaps this sounds like more political nihilism, but how in the hell is that going to effect any change?

    Go with a one party state because we'll get things done! Horrible, counter productive things, but things nonetheless! I mean, do you even begin to understand how deranged this sounds?

  • Chris||

    "I'm presenting reasons why the parties are not equally evil."

    This is the real difference between the parties. Republicans are more often christian than not, and liberals, having taken god out of their party, have made a god of the state. Of course this is a matter of good and evil to you.

    Frankly, I'm an atheist, and that includes gods in state-form.

  • spambot||

    "Frankly, I'm an atheist, and that includes gods in state-form."

    This.

  • Tony||

    Show me a Democrat who actually talks about government in this way and I'll show you a Democrat who will never get elected to anything.

    More hyperbole and false equivalency. The reforms on the table are so centrist it's nauseating to someone like me. But that won't stop you from painting anything and everything the current government proposes as the most radical thing imaginable, and the political thinking behind them something absurd like state worship.

  • spambot||

    "Show me a Democrat who actually talks about government in this way and I'll show you a Democrat who will never get elected to anything."

    Republicans don't talk about some of the crazy shit they believe in for the same reasons. Again you have no point, just your GO TEAM BLUE cheer.

  • Tony||

    Republicans often don't believe the crazy shit they say: they just say it because their dumbass constituents want to hear it. Meanwhile the candidate is banging some guy in an airport bathroom.

    Democrats don't say they worship government because they don't. That doesn't even make sense. You just want to believe that because it makes it easier for you not to think about anything in too much depth. Wanting a reformed healthcare system, for example, which any sane person knows is desperately needed, is not the same thing as worshiping government. Recognizing the flaws in the market isn't worshiping government.

  • Chris||

    My point is that the ideology places the importance on the state as the right places, in general, on the church.

  • T||

    Wanting a reformed healthcare system, for example, which any sane person knows is desperately needed, is not the same thing as worshiping government. Recognizing the flaws in the market isn't worshiping government.

    It becomes worshiping government when every single proposal to fix any problem increases the power of the state.

  • Tony||

    So why don't you free market types come up with a solution that doesn't involve government. Oh wait, you can't, because the American healthcare system is a complete repudiation of free market dogmatism!

  • T||

    Okay, I'm out. There is an entire laundry list of free market reforms that involve less government distortion and interference in health care markets. They have been proposed here, and elsewhere. For you to act as if there have been no proposals proves, beyond any shadow of a doubt, that you're arguing in bad faith and are a troll. Go crawl back under your bridge and wait for goats

  • Michael Ejercito||

    Even if you completely disagree with Democrats on matters of policy, at least they haven't been taken over by anti-intellectuals and religious fundamentalists. At least they didn't make torture US policy. At least they believe in science.


    No, they were taken over by socialist fundamentalists, especially in states like California.

    At least they believe in science.


    How fast are those Himalayan glaciers melting?

  • ||

    Even if you completely disagree with Democrats on matters of policy, at least they haven't been taken over by anti-intellectuals and religious fundamentalists.

    The really funny thing about Tony is that he believes this.

    -jcr

  • T||

    Wait, saying both parties propose shitty policies that will fuck the country over in the long run is lazy thinking?

    It's easy, sure, but it's still true.

  • spambot||

    That was to Tony.

  • ||

    That durable warning about government programs failing is really a libertarian insight, as conservatives who were convinced that the U.S. army could resculpt the Middle East and Afghanistan for well under $100 billion back in the early 2000s could surely tell you.

    By "conservatives," I presume you mean "neoconservatives." You know, the ideological heirs of people like JFK, who wanted to "pay any price, bear any burden," etc., ad nauseam. The paleocons, on the other hand (i.e., the ideological heirs of Robert A. Taft) knew that Bush's plan was all going to end in tears.

  • robc||

    Neocons are the ideological heirs of Trotsky.

  • T||

    If that the case, who has an ice axe?

  • Rick Sincere||

    Apparently Mr. Alexander has received tenure at the University of Virginia. Were it otherwise, he would not be able to write so openly about liberal condescension -- he'd be in danger of losing his teaching position.

  • ||

    I've got a bunch of uber-conservative relatives on my mom's side. Little to no college education. Only expose themselves to Limbaugh/FOX/etc. for ideas. I'm lucky to know some more sophisticated conservatives and libertarians because it would be very easy to become arrogant and condescending.

    BTW, the flipside of this condescending tendency among some liberals is the tendency of some libertarians to think that liberals are all a bunch of bleeding hearts who haven't thought very hard about the nature of justice and know next to nothing about economics. You can't have debated these issues very much online without running into libertarian condescension.

  • Mike Laursen||

    Brilliant insight there, play_jurist.

  • Mike M.||

    Conservatives are so darn stupid! Thank goodness we finally have a truly intelligent, well-educated President in office who has a firm mastery of the English language, so that he can show the proper respect for our Navy "Corpsemen".

  • Barry||

    I told them to spell everything fenetically! Fuck!

  • ||

    Your political nihilism may be easy, but it's pretty useless.

    At least my "political nihilism" is based on principles.

  • ||

    I don't think Obama is on that list

    Awwww, that's just adorable.

  • ap||

    alexander is on and on about the same trick that every set of fellow travelers uses to dismiss challenges to their assumptions. granted, the liberal with their compatriots in the media are a bit worse and belaboring than most. but shit ain't new.

  • Eric S.||

    Do you support gay marriage? Why or why not?

  • Mike Laursen||

    Same as for heterosexual marriage: It's none of my business what they do, but tell me which two people are thinking of making a life-long commitment to each other, and I'll give you odds on how that's going to work out.

  • Mike Laursen||

    Of course, thinking twice would be easier if more of them were listening to us at all.

    To be fair, liberals would be more likely to listen if conservatives would stop saying other crazy shit about gays threatening the institution of marriage, abortion of a ball of cells being murder, our country is founded on the Christian religion, etc.

  • Michael Ejercito||

    gays threatening the institution of marriage


    That must be why liberals in Maine defeated that referendum to overturn same-sex "marriage".

    bortion of a ball of cells being murder


    Abortions are almost never performed at the "ball of cells" stage.

  • Mike Laursen||

    (a) What liberals in Maine did has no bearing on the crazy things conservatives do.
    (b) If someone wants to argue against allowing abortions after some point (past the ball-of -cells phase, after the first trimester, after a nervous system has started developing, whatever), I'll listen; they're trying to define a rational position. But conservatives that argue that the baby has a soul immediately at conception are just trying to impose their religious views on everyone, and they deserve not to be listened to.

  • Jared Wolfhope||

    'For every Glenn Beck there is a Maddow or a Olbermann'

    That is buffoonery.

    Same realm but are miles apart. Glenn Beck is a Mormon mental case.

  • Tommy||

    And Olberman isn't a mental case? The guy comes completely unhinged at the drop of a hat!

  • RHJunior||

    Actually, we tend to disregard libertarians because some of their premises are damned ridiculous. Their over-obsession with legalizing drugs, their obsessive and repetitive fantasies of a society that has complete freedom of religion but yet somehow, mysteriously, religious beliefs are tidily invisible and have no influence on either society or governance, and worst of all their isolationist fantasies--- where a weak, militarily declawed, and borderless America that never extends its power past its borders could somehow survive more than a week in a world full of tinpot despots and tyrannical would-be superpowers, are all a bit too much to stomach.

  • Mike Laursen||

    So how are the War on Drugs and the invasion of Iraq workin' out for ya?

  • Tommy||

    It's funny how those that preach tolerance the loudest have no tolerance for those with views that differ from their own.

  • Non Libbie||

    Why you libbies are obsessed with spending other people's cash and implementing more gov't rule is beyond me.

  • ||

    Please let real, tangible freedom penetrate the American psyche...Think Libertarian...Think no more wars of aggression "FOUGHT AS AN OFFENSIVE, not DEFENSIVE campaign"...Think Legalization...THINK IN TERMS OF INDIVIDUAL FREEDOM instead of division and group mentality (There are no gay rights because I have no right to tell anyone what they can or cant do...they just have the God given right to live their life as they see fit) Most liberals need to realize that Obama is boy-wonder, an empty book, so he's going to get away with god knows what...start new wars, continue old ones, bankruptcy... Hillary in the mid 2000's was crowned the "Corporate Candidate," do you really think she cares for you...AND THE CONSERVATIVES...oh boy, first off, Bush lied, Iraq was about
    MANO A MANO (settling the score with Sadam, now its Obamas problem). Sarah apparently can't answer ambush questions like "What do you read?"...CHENEY WAS THE VP OF A DEFENSE (offense) CONTRACTOR, and we just so happened to wined up in two wars under him...If American's future leaders are Obama and Sarah, and America's future work force is Joe the Plumber....GOD HELP US ALL!!! Think freely and enjoy your Freedom! (as it is defined today, it seems to change every day now)

  • demil-lor||

    bestpriceforsales equus 3100 Went to the dealer because the "Check Engine" light came on. $130 for the scan and a new gas cap ($12). Second time this has happened to me for only an old gas cap not holding vacuum. Won't happen again...

  • sathi2000||

    When half of people see themselves as beleaguered and suavely cynical Randian heroes here, no wonder the movement doesn't gain traction.
    http://destinationsoftwareinc.com

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