Not always. Not everyone. But enough.
This week, for example, while thinking about the pope’s take on global warming, I tweeted out this comment: “Celebrate climate change, an externality of the greatest poverty destroying program in the history of mankind.” There is plenty to disagree with in my observation, I admit. Although I believe what I wrote to be true, I sent it out partly to elicit exactly the sort of reaction my tweet got—one person calling me a psychopath (a Slate writer, not some anonymous critic) and the other calling me sociopathic, among other things. I don’t mind the insults (perversely, in fact, I sort of enjoy them), but I do mind that the debate is over.
Conservatives might be ethically compromised, uninformed, or—if liberals are in a generous mood—mentally unstable, but they can’t be for real. At least, that’s the sense I increasingly get from the Left these days. Blame it on social media.
When a group confuses its politics with moral doctrine, it may have trouble comprehending how a decent human could disagree with its positions. This is probably why people confuse lecturing with debating and why so many liberals can bore into the deepest nooks of my soul to ferret out all those motivations but can’t waste any time arguing about the issue itself.
Are you corrupt? Probably. Bought off by Big Oil, Big Food, or Big Somethingorother? Washington is teeming with Manchurian candidates, because no one could possibly be this malicious on his own. Why should liberals debate a point when they can debate your imaginary Sugar Daddy? Why else would conservatives “hate workers”? Why would they “bet against America”? Why do they want to destroy democracy? Why would conservatives vote against their own interests? Someone pays them to lie.
Or maybe you favor inequality, injustice, rape culture, and poverty because privilege clouds your sense of decency? If you were born wealthy (anything over 130 percent of the poverty level or so) how can anyone expect you to have empathy for the destitute? You certainly don’t possess the life experience or skin color to challenge leftist economic doctrine. For inexplicable reasons—that can’t possibly have anything to do with a genuine belief in supply-side economics, property rights, or an aversion to punishing success—tens of millions of you spend your political lives protecting the interests of billionaires for no other reason than that you hate the poor. (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, etc..)
You hate a lot of things, don’t you? Like half the country, you’re furtively racist and irrationally misogynistic. The American idea is erected on a foundation of intolerance, according to one of the most celebrated thinkers on the Left. You hate black people, sure, but also brown people. So this bloodlust manifests when you oppose the president on foreign policy, for instance. (Then again, maybe it’s the Israel Lobby paying you off.) You’re not anti-Iran deal, you’re pro-war. Just like you’re not pro-Second Amendment, you’re pro-mass shootings. You’re not concerned about terrorism or (genuine) illiberalism, you’re a bigot. You’re not pro-school choice, you’re anti-children. You’re not pro-traditional marriage, you’re anti-dignity. You’re not pro-entitlement reform, you’re anti-retirement.
You’re not in favor of a cost-benefit analysis when it comes to climate change policy, you’re anti-science. Skeptic. Denier. Psychopath. Why do you hate the Earth?
@davidharsanyi You, sir, are an excellent psychopath
— Jordan Weissmann (@JHWeissmann) September 23, 2015
Don’t like big government? You’re a nihilist (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, etc…). Forget what your policy does, watch your tone. Transphobic. Homophobic. Eleutherophobic. Sure, you may claim that you want to save unborn girls from the scalpels of Planned Parenthood, but your real goal is to control women. Even if you’re Carly Fiorina. Even if you’re a majority of women in the United States.
Or maybe you can’t see things clearly because you’re hooked to the most addictive opiate imaginable, religion—which, let’s face it, you probably don’t properly understand or adhere to correctly. Here, let them tell you what Jesus would do. (Hey, Vox, what’s up with Jesus? ) Are you part of some regressive denomination that follows doctrine and hasn’t been poll-testing on the Left, that isn’t always pleasing to millennials’ ears, that hasn’t evolved properly, or still clings to “religious freedom?” You’re a modern-day Orval Eugene Faubus, probably. We can sue you into compliance or we mock you into the twenty-first century, because clearly you’re too selfish to be part of our future.
What conservatives (and some libertarians) possess aren’t arguments, but corrupt and nefarious ambitions. Defend yourself. What you can’t possibly have are legitimate differences of opinion.