Eternal Strife and Progressives

As a fairly descriptive matter, Progressives do not identify with the individual when it comes to governance or rights. Rights are not thought of in the old Lockean”state of nature” variety, which apply to individuals and are preserved in society (property, liberty, freedom from restraint, etc.). Instead, rights are either seen as things that must be provided by society (“healthcare” or “a living wage”) or as things that are claimed through the group in society to which you belong and distributed by society in a strange hierarchy (“LGBT rights” “rights of women” “minority rights,” etc.).

You get a glimpse of this rejection of the individual in everything from speeches (“You didn’t build that”) to a Utopian view of individuals being herded through life with help from the government. Anybody remember “The Life of Julia“?

But I’ve found something else this applies to: individual decisions.

You would think that progressives have at least heard of the way conservatives (and classic liberals) perceive the world and have opted for what they think is better. Instead, I believe they do not even recognize that framework of individuality, and they cannot recognize that individuals might view the world as one in which individuals make individual choices. They cannot believe that a group of individuals would think for themselves, come to a conclusion, possibly change their mind, base their actions and beliefs on their reasoning on an issue, and not be the acting manifestation of groupthink.

Below is an article that is an illustration of this. The most important part of this piece below is HOW he argues, not necessarily the subject that he argues about (although that’s bad, too). Both are revealing, so let’s cover both. The substance of this argument is so bad (for a conservative, anyway) that it is funny. But it’s the argument that is the real danger. Any man may come to a bad conclusion. That’s inevitable. But if a man has a bad method of arguing, he will always come to a bad conclusion.

The progressive sees the world in groups, not because that’s what he thinks is a good description of the world, but because that’s what the world IS. All other descriptions are covers for the real fact of groups acting with each other, for each other, or against each other.

The evidence I stumbled upon is this piece in the Washington Post, where Jonathan Capehart shares why support for Ben Carson has plummeted.
It can be summed up by one word: Race.

Now, we can laugh at how easily the race card was thrown out, so let’s cover that first. We’ll come to the argument later.

The problem starts with the opening line: “If you want to know the reason behind Ben Carson’s tumble in the polls, you need only look at what propelled him there in the first place: race.”

No. Ben Carson was propelled to the leadership in the polls because of his life story, which was chronicled in the Book Gifted Hands (which has a 5 star rating out of 2,332 reviews) and the same-titled movie starring Cuba Gooding, Jr. His book is often assigned reading in some schools (I was required to read it when I was getting my Masters in Teaching). He has gained support because of his serious operation in Iowa. People are drawn to him also because of his genuine decency , a demeanor so calm that it is easy to make light of and also refreshingly different (albeit, occasionally sleep-inducing). He also has a campaign vision/message/slogan so good, it is actually pleasant to watch in his ads. This is why everyone in the GOP (even those who don’t support him for president, like me) say that he is a good man who is extremely likable. It also might be that the GOP really thinks there’s something wrong with our politics, and so they reach for one of the three candidates who have never been in office. These are all plausible explanations.

But nope. Republicans liked him because of his race. As Mr. Capehart explains,

“Earlier this fall, I argued that many Republicans rallied around the famed neurosurgeon because of their eagerness to show that they have their own brilliant black man to support. Their answer to President Obama.”

And Republicans were only able to find a brilliant and capable black Republican answer to Obama in this man: Economist Thomas Sowell. I mean, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. I mean, Senator Tim Scott. I mean, former head of the RNC Michael Steele. I mean… Mia Love… wait, who is this article about again? Oh. That’s right. BEN CARSON. The ONLY hope for Republicans to prove that they are so-not-racist, they could support a black man for president.

And in case you’re curious about his “argument” earlier this fall, it is not so much an argument as it is a string of quotations from the same Harvard professor he liberally quotes here – a professor who starts too many sentences with the subjective phrase “I think…”

So, that’s the substance of the points he makes, but it is the nonsensical line of reasoning I want to highlight.

Getting to his crux, Mr. Capehart shows us loads of evidence for practical policy and competence reasons why a Republican might move away from support from Ben Carson, but he uses that evidence to prove the one thing he provided zero evidence for: Republicans don’t like black people, or at least they don’t like them that much. Take a look:

You can pinpoint the beginning of Carson’s slide at the Nov. 10 debate in Milwaukee. There, he gave an incomprehensible answer about Obama’s moves in the Middle East. The one where Carson erroneously said the Chinese were in Syria. That was just three days before the Paris terrorist attacks. The fear unleashed by the slaughter of innocents on Nov. 13 in Paris and on Dec. 2 in San Bernardino, Calif., pushed the presidential campaign into a more serious (and rhetorically scary) phase. Terrorism is now the No. 1 concern of Americans in the surveys from NBC News-Wall Street Journal and Gallup polls.

Don’t forget that the murderous rampage committed by Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik occurred the day before Carson appeared before the Republican Jewish Coalition gathering in Washington. As a result, his Dec. 3 speech, with his continual mispronunciation of Hamas in a performance worthy of a grade-school history class, was more of a disaster than it would have been in less frightening times. And informing the amateur-hour atmosphere around Carson was the devastating New York Times story of Nov. 17 about how he “is struggling to grasp foreign policy.”

And yet….

“Race is integral to Carson’s fall, but not in an explicit sense,” … [and] the lack of loyalty to Carson “is where race plays a central role,” Rigueur said. “People touted their devotion to Carson, but have quickly shifted their loyalty to Trump (or [Ted] Cruz, who has really benefitted the most from Carson’s fall from the limelight).”

Do you see that? Republicans see race because ACTUAL REASONS to lose faith in a black candidate overcame their LOYALTY to the black candidate. Because of this, argues Mr. Capehart, RACE (not an increased attention to national security) is the most significant factor in the rise and fall of Ben Carson.

Apparently Mr. Capehart thinks the normal course of action is to continue to support a candidate when it increasingly becomes clear that he is not prepared to face an issue. That is normal because of loyalty to the group. But if you peel off and go to someone who has displayed more competence (Ted Cruz), that is evidence that you are NOT loyal to the group.

Now, in a sense, this is correct. Republicans tend to argue, and display loyalty to ideas: limited government, lower taxes, strong national defense, etc. So it is true to say “Republicans are not loyal to Carson MERELY because he is black.” But that is different than what Mr. Capehart argues: “Republicans are not loyal to Carson BECAUSE he is black.”

This is bad argument in many ways, but the important part is how he sees the world: There is only race.

  • There are no ideas.
  • There are no arguments about ideas.
  • No one makes a choice because of an argument about ideas.
  • If you move from one candidate to another, you’re doing it because of race.
  • If you like someone of a different race, that is because you want to improve the appearance of your own race.
  • Seeming choices based on ideas are actually manifestations of choices to improve the appearance of your race.

What a strange manner of thinking!

Except it is not strange. It is how progressives think. Reasons for things and the facts of individual cases have never been as important to progressives as the means to power, as “the narrative,” or as expressions of group support (which in a democracy is a means to power).

To progressives, there is no argument, only struggle between groups for power. So no wonder we have so much struggle between groups in America today. To the Progressive, that’s the only thing that exists.

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