Liberal Lies Conservatives are Starting to Believe

Matt Lewis
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Posted: Feb 26, 2009 10:25 AM
Since the GOP began to implode around 2006, liberals have successfully used the blogosphere and the MSM to mock conservatives (see Palin and Jindal), and to advance several other dangerously false notions.

Of course, a lie repeated enough times becomes truth, and thus, some of this folderol is becoming conventional wisdom.

But while it's bad enough for the general public to be misled, the real danger is when conservatives actually begin believing the other side's propaganda -- and that is sadly what is happening today.

While there are numerous examples of this phenomenon, there are two examples that are especially concerning to me. Both have potential to do tremendous harm to the nation. And in both cases -- many conservatives are falling for them.

The first lie is the notion that liberals are offering "new" solutions, while conservatives (see the substantive criticism of Jindal's speech) continue to offer "old" ideas. This, of course, is a false argument. A few things to note about the cult of newness ...

1. Liberal ideas are anything but new. One primary example is nationalized health care -- an idea first advanced by Harry Truman.  And, of course, let's not forget the push for "Hillary Care" in the early '90s. Additionally, most of Obama's Keynesian stimulus plan is a rehash of New Deal programs from the '30s and '40s, which did not work then, just as they will not work now.

2. Newt Gingrich's "Contract with America" is today widely hailed as an example of "new" and innovative thinking, but fundamentally, the ideas included in the Contract were based on long-held fundamental conservative philosophy (conservatism, by definition, is a philosophy which values experience). Gingrich, of course, brilliantly applied these conservative principles to create new solutions to the problems of the 1990's. He also packaged them well.

3. Because many of George W. Bush's policies were anything but conservative, many of the solutions being mentioned today are, indeed, "new". Unfortunately, understanding this requires a bit of knowledge. One such example is the claim that Republicans keep offering their tired old call for tax cuts. What is not widely understood is that all tax cuts are not created equal. For example, Keynesian "tax cut" rebates did not stimulate the economy -- because rebates don't work. Conservatives who understand this principle instead support cuts in the marginal rate, which provides incentive for people to invest, start businesses, etc. This nuanced argument is not widely understood, but it is -- in fact -- a different argument than the same old same old.

... So why does any of this matter? Any marketing expert will tell you that "new" things are generally thought of more positively than "old" things (for this reason, even products like Depends use "young-looking" old people in their TV ads). As such, by portraying liberal ideas as "new," liberals gain an advantage.

... The second liberal lie I wanted to debunk was the notion that -- if Republicans were smart -- they would moderate or, at least, try to not look like obstructionists (this is often advice given to conservatives by liberals).

To be sure, with Obama's high approval ratings, this seems like a tempting thing to do, at least, in the short-term.

While there are many substantive reasons Republicans should stand on principle and oppose Obama's liberal policies, there is also a political component to this. And, of course, liberals would love to encourage Republicans to make the wrong political moves (thus, they warn Republicans that "politically" it hurts us to be seen as "obstructionists.")

Post-9-11, many Democrats put aside partisanship (you could argue whether this was due to patriotism or pragmatism due to Bush's -- at the time -- sky-high approval ratings) and voted to authorize George W. Bush to use force in Iraq.

The political reason Democrats went along with this was that most of the top-tier Democratic presidential candidates, such as John Kerry, believed it would be political suicide to appear "weak" on national security and foreign policy (this also hurt Hillary Clinton's '08 run).

The Democrats who eschewed this call for bipartisanship were Howard Dean (who came out of nowhere and nearly wrested the nomination away from the front runners), and Barack Obama (who won in '08).

In the case of Dean, he gained traction by bashing the Democratic field for genuflecting to Bush, and boldly announced that he represented the "Democratic Wing of the Democratic Party." Only by co-opting Dean's message was Kerry able to win the nomination, but his flip-flopping on the issue also hurt his general election chances.

Today, we face an economic crisis that parallels the national security crisis we faced in 9-11. And just as 9-11 was sometimes used as a cudgel, there is intense pressure on Republicans to go along with the president's plans today, lest the unimaginable happen...

But the lesson to learn from the Democrats' experience in '04 and '08 is that any conservative who wants to have a future should avoid the short-term payoff of being bipartisan for bipartisanship's sake, and instead, vote their conscience.