I’m hardly the first blogger to point out that for all their blather about “nuance,” liberals are actually the most binary thinkers on the planet. Everything’s “good” or “bad,” “intelligent” or “stupid,” “enlightened” or “reactionary,” to taste — and it all depends on the political stance of the speaker. Call it the Molotov-Ribbentrop Effect* — when principle and pragmatism collide, principle will always be retconned to cover the political expediency of the moment. We’ve always been at war with Eastasia.
This has an interesting side effect I’ve been noticing more and more around campus: The retcon of the moment always carries with it a little checklist of explanations, not for liberals’ actions — for those must always be virtuous by definition — but for conservative opposition. For instance, if you oppose Obamacare, it’s due to (check all that apply):
- You’re greedy (part of “the 1%,” whatever)
- You’ve been bought off by [Wall Street, Big Pharma, &c]
- You hate poor people
- You’re ignorant (“don’t you know that the CBO scored it revenue-neutral?!”)
- You watch too much Faux News (see above)
- You’re a racist
That’s the entire universe of available options. It is simply not possible to object to Obamacare on any other grounds than these. (That these appear to be the entire universe of objections to any liberal policy, and thus are effectively just mantras, never occurs to them… but that’s a rant for another day).
To date, conservatives have fought this in our usual style, with reason and evidence and light mockery (“yes, we’d be just fine with jackbooted socialism if only it were a white person stomping on our faces”). I suggest a different counterattack:
Hit ’em where they live.
Liberals are desperate to think of themselves as independent-minded deep thinking nonconformists. That’s why their first reaction to any unexpected stimulus is to run to their blogs and JournoLists, to see what all the other independent-minded deep thinking nonconformists have to say about it (see, for instance, this fascinating article from Mother Jones straight up instructing liberals how to think).
Use that. Mock them mercilessly. “Oh, it’s because I’m a racist, is it? Was it The Nation or Daily Kos who said that?” “Ah, so that’s the newest directive from Democratic Underground, eh?” “Yes, yes, I know — I get email updates from Organizing for America, too.” “Wow, I wonder how many F4 keys the New York Times has worn out with that macro.” &c.
Show them that they’re doing nothing but checking off mental boxes. Dare them to actually get an opinion of their own.
*we need a new name for this — I suggest a contest. Suggestions welcome.