My 750th post: The GUTOL (Grand Unified Theory Of Leftism)

 

There has been an interesting exchange of ideas recently on Ricochet, in this order:

  • I recently wrote a post in which I wondered how my leftist friends, who are intelligent and nice people, could vote for leftism, given its horrifying record of humanitarian catastrophes around the globe.
  • Henry responded with a brilliant post in which he suggested that leftism resonates with unhappy people: “My theory is that miserable people often can’t accept that they are miserable for internal reasons, so they externalize.”  He suggested that if the left was motivated by compassion for the poor, they would promote capitalism, so the poor could become rich.  But instead, they lash out at those they think are making them miserable – the wealthy, the producers, and even society itself.  Thus, he says, “Among the hard leftists is a hatred of what is good and beautiful is more of a motivation than compassion.”
  • In the comments of Henry’s post, Bryan tossed in this nugget of wisdom: “I think you touch on something very true here, in that miserable people cannot appreciate beauty or joy.  I see this more on an individual level in my practice.  People do not want to focus on the things they can control and instead spend their energy and attention on things they cannot control.  As an example, being a victim absolves one of responsibility, but also agency.  It is a miserable way to live.”
  • Then iWe suggested in a post (which I don’t think was intended to be part of this discussion) that he didn’t believe that people wanted to really live. He wrote that most people simply want to get through life with a minimum of difficulty, and are reluctant to live life with vigor and passion.

All of this got my propeller spinning a bit.  Let’s see if I can make sense of all this.

First, in defense of my simplistic question, I think this is a very important point.  In national elections, Democrats consistently win around half the popular vote.  That’s incredible.  The party of slavery, the party that promotes the same leftism that led to the deaths of 100 million people in the 1900s, the party that is led by inspiring, youthful, charismatic figures like Biden, Pelosi, and Schumer – that party wins about half the popular vote.  Regardless of who their candidate is at the time.

And most of the people that vote for Democrats are nice, caring, intelligent, pleasant people.  I find that astounding.

Henry’s response was brilliant, I thought.  Leftists claim to want a Utopia.  And maybe they do, on a certain level.  But their primary motivation is punishing whoever they blame for their problems.

Now, we all have problems.  But not all of us blame others for our problems.  P.J. O’Rourke wrote something like, “One problem with becoming a conservative was that I had more difficulty finding someone to blame for my problems.”

Taking responsibility for our problems is unpleasant.  The painful soul-searching needed to find and correct our own flaws is even more unpleasant.  It’s easier to just blame rich people.  Or Jews.  Or Christians.  Or heterosexual white males.  Or whoever.  Anybody but you.  You’re a helpless victim of forces beyond your control.  That makes you virtuous and that makes government your only hope.  Which gives you, and your government, more power than you deserve.  And more power than is safe.

Then, to Bryan’s point, I’ve also noticed over the course of my career that people much prefer to have problems that they can’t do anything about.

If someone develops diabetes, I’ll say, “You know, it might help if you don’t live on donuts, sweet tea, Little Debbies, and Fritos.”

The patient will immediately become defensive:  “It’s genetic!  My brother has diabetes too!”

Me:  “He’s my patient, too.  And you’re right, he also has diabetes.  Because he lives on donuts, sweet tea, Little Debbies, and Fritos.”

I’ve had patients transfer to another doctor after conversations like that.  But if I tell them that they have pancreatic cancer and they’re going to be dead in three months, they’re strangely reassured by the fact that it was just bad luck.  Not their fault.  Which makes it more tolerable, somehow.

Which brings up iWe’s (possibly unintentional) contribution to this discussion.  If people wanted to live their best life, they would want to take control of their lives.  But taking control would mean also taking responsibility for their lives.  Which is difficult.  So they voluntarily give up control over their lives, to be absolved of responsibility over their lives.

Either way, things will go wrong.  There will be disappointments in your life, no matter who’s responsible.

But if they are responsible for their own disappointments, that leads to unpleasant periods of self-doubt and agonizing efforts at self-improvement.  Very difficult stuff.  No fun whatsoever.

But if government is responsible for their disappointments, then it’s not their fault.  Less pressure on them, I suppose.

What they don’t understand is that lack of control over one’s life also leads to bitter resentments.  For example, I prescribe a medicine to a patient.  It’s expensive.  He asks if there are cheaper options.  I say yes, but they’re not quite as effective.  He says fine, give me the cheaper one, I’ll call you if it doesn’t work, and he’s pleased to have saved some money.  But if he were on a government health care plan that refused to pay for the good stuff and instead gave him the second-rate drug, he’d be furious.

Either way, he gets the second-rate drug.  But in one case he’s happy, and in the other case he’s furious.

Allowing others to control your life leads to anger and resentment.  But still, to iWe’s point, many still prefer to avoid taking responsibility for themselves.  So they become the miserable recruits for the Democrat party that Henry described in his post.

We tell children, from the age of 3 to their early 20s:  Ok, you’re a good person.  You don’t have to change – you’re as good as it gets, right now.  What a horrifying concept.  You’ve just extinguished any hope they have for the future.

By telling them that they are winners – and they can’t fail – you’re also telling them that they can’t succeed.  It’s hopeless.   No wonder they’re miserable.  No wonder they look for someone to blame for their misery.

Ok, so let me try to tie all this together:

Society is fairly prosperous and stable, so many people lead happy, wealthy lives.

But some do not.  And those people don’t wonder why they have failed while others have succeeded.  Instead, those people look for others to blame.  They blame family, religion, societal norms, and other restrictive systems which limit their behavior.

The successful people feel bad for the less successful, so they also criticize and attack the family, religion, and societal norms that led to their own success, out of sympathy for the less fortunate.

Once enough people turn against family, religion, and societal norms, then those things start to lose influence.  We start to raise children without those things.  After all, we don’t want to oppress them.

Those children, lacking the wisdom of the ages and lacking structure, understandably become miserable adults.

If you’re raised on nihilism, and you believe that your life has no greater purpose than the pursuit of immediate pleasures, and you believe it’s up to someone else to provide them for you, then nothing is ever good enough.  And you’re bound to be miserable.  Happiness becomes impossible.

Those miserable adults are naturally hesitant to believe that their misery is their own fault (and you could argue that it’s not).  So they blame those who are more fortunate.  Miserable people hate happy people.

The miserable people feel vindicated and virtuous.  They literally can do no wrong – crimes are not criminal if they’re done for the greater good.  So their attacks on family, religion, and societal norms become progressively more vicious.

The successful become evil, the less successful become good.  Kids start smoking pot and playing video games.  Why would they work their tails off simply to become successful, and thus, evil?  So we get progressively more unsuccessful, miserable people who want government control, and progressively less successful, happy people who want personal independence.

And eventually we reach a critical mass of miserable people.  So government power becomes overwhelming.  For everyone.

Now family, religion, and societal norms go from supporting a stable society to having no supporters whatsoever.  They shrivel and die, and nobody cares.  Government will take care of us.  That’s more fair.

The culture that supported that previously stable & prosperous society collapses completely, and everyone wonders why.  It must be the Republicans’ fault…

Hmmm…

I don’t know.  This made more sense in my head than it does now, after I tried to write it out.  I still find it astounding that Democrats win half the national vote every time.  And I’m amazed that my nice, intelligent, compassionate friends vote for them.

I just don’t get it.  I guess because my brain just doesn’t work like that.

But maybe this is at least a partial explanation.  Fear of failure leads to willing forfeiture of one’s autonomy, which leads to resentment and misery, which leads to the hatred of happiness and beauty and opportunity, which leads to attacks on the independence of others, which leads to more government power, which leads to misery, and around and around we go.

I guess.

I don’t know.

What do you think?


NOTE:  I very much appreciate the contributions of @henrycastaigne, @bryangstephens, and @iwe to this essay.  If I misrepresented your views in any way, please let me know and I’ll make corrections.  Thanks.

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  1. Henry Racette Member
    Henry Racette
    @HenryRacette

    Interesting topic. (By the way, the “Henry” Doc mentions is undoubtedly @henrycastaigne.)

    My own thought is probably simpler: while I believe most of us are temperamentally conservative (for sound evolutionary reasons), a minority are temperamentally radical. The temperamentally radical fall somewhere on a spectrum that ranges from nihilism on one end to progressivism on the other. Radicals generally enjoy breaking rules. The more intellectual radicals believe they can out-think the unwashed masses and craft a radical progressive utopia — or, perhaps, tell themselves that they believe that in order to justify breaking the rules.

    But I think it’s the rule-breaking that’s the real draw to radicals, just as it’s the comfort with tradition that’s the real draw to conservatives. I think very few people really have a strong desire to “make the world a better place,” however much we may love our family and those closest to us.

    • #1
  2. Addiction Is A Choice Member
    Addiction Is A Choice
    @AddictionIsAChoice

    Dr. Bastiat: Now, we all have problems.

    And if I am elected
    I promise the formation of a new party
    A third party, THE WILD PARTY!
    I know we have problems
    We got problems right here in Central City
    We have problems in the North
    South, East and West
    New York City, St. Louis, Philadelphia
    Los Angeles, Detroit, Chicago
    Everybody has problems
    And personally, I don’t care!

    • #2
  3. David Foster Member
    David Foster
    @DavidFoster

    Lots of truth in this.  HOWEVER, important to not carry it too far….I know quite a few people who are to some degree aligned with the Left but who definitely appear to be happy, and are also reasonably successful to extremely successful.

     

    • #3
  4. Phil Turmel Coolidge
    Phil Turmel
    @PhilTurmel

    Great essay.  One confusing point:

    You say this:

    Dr. Bastiat:

    Society is fairly prosperous and stable, so many people lead happy, wealthy lives.

    But some do not.  And those people don’t wonder why they have failed while others have succeeded.  Instead, those people look for others to blame.  They blame family, religion, societal norms, and other restrictive systems which limit their behavior.

    But a few paragraphs before that you say:

    Dr. Bastiat:

    But if they are responsible for their own disappointments, that leads to unpleasant periods of self-doubt and agonizing efforts at self-improvement.  Very difficult stuff.  No fun whatsoever.

    But if government is responsible for their disappointments, then it’s not their fault.  Less pressure on them, I suppose.

    I would suggest that people don’t think government is responsible for their disappointments.  They believe society, especially meritocratic capitalists, are responsible for their disappointments.  They want government to be their tool to fix their disappointments by any means necessary, especially by making those icky capitalists be less meritocratic.  They don’t actually admit that last little bit to themselves, because they’d have to admit to themselves that they didn’t merit the success they failed to achieve.

    This kind of cognitive dissonance is immune to arguments based on governments’ inability to actually do this.

    • #4
  5. Dr. Bastiat Member
    Dr. Bastiat
    @drbastiat

    David Foster (View Comment):

    Lots of truth in this. HOWEVER, important to not carry it too far….I know quite a few people who are to some degree aligned with the Left but who definitely appear to be happy, and are also reasonably successful to extremely successful.

     

    My explanation for that in the post is that the successful & happy join the less fortunate in their radicalism, to seem more sympathetic, or more cool & hip, or simply to attempt to gain the power of victimhood despite their success.

    I don’t know – not sure.

    But you make a good point. 

    • #5
  6. Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patriot) Member
    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patriot)
    @ArizonaPatriot

    Doc, this is a great post.  Thanks.

    I have a thought about the part that, I think, is your central thesis:

    Dr. Bastiat:

    Society is fairly prosperous and stable, so many people lead happy, wealthy lives.

    But some do not.  And those people don’t wonder why they have failed while others have succeeded.  Instead, those people look for others to blame.  They blame family, religion, societal norms, and other restrictive systems which limit their behavior.

    The successful people feel bad for the less successful, so they also criticize and attack the family, religion, and societal norms that led to their own success.  Out of sympathy for the less fortunate.

    Once enough people turn against family, religion, and societal norms, then those things start to lose influence.  We start to raise children without those things.  After all, we don’t want to oppress them.

    This explanation seems incomplete to me.

    I understand why the unsuccessful people seek someone to blame.  They don’t want to face the possibility that their own decisions, their own conduct, has caused their problems.  This is often the case, though not always, and it’s usually more complicated in my view.  There is also a question of inherent endowment.  Some people do seem to be naturally better than others in a variety of ways — intelligence, personality traits like conscientiousness, physical abilities like strength or speed, beauty, and other characteristics.  I suppose that it would feel unfair to be rather dull witted, lazy, small, weak, and unattractive.

    But what about the successful people.   Why do they go along with this blame game?

    Because I never have.  As to our individual behavior, I tend to fall back on the story of the Little Red Hen.  It’s not very sophisticated, I’ll concede, but it seems to make the point.  As to inherent endowments, I tend to view these as gifts from God, not a reason to feel guilty.

    I do think that you are correct in your observation that many successful people feel differently.  They seem to feel guilty for their success.  Since I don’t feel that way myself, it leaves me wondering about their motivation.

    My hypothesis is that the source of this guilt is the doctrine of equality.  Our Declaration says that all men are created equal.  It’s not clear what our Founders meant by this. If it meant that people are equal in their faculties and abilities, then it is empirically wrong (as I believe Madison observed).  But maybe this doctrine of equality leads to a certain confusion.

    I think that, for the successful, there is an alternative to guilt.  That alternative is gratitude.  It occurs to me that feeling that gratitude might require faith in God.  Otherwise, it’s just dumb luck, I suppose.

    Another possibility, I guess, relates to personality traits, specifically from the Big Five model.  It might require a certain degree of disagreeableness to look at a suffering, unsuccessful person, and essentially say: “tough luck, stop whining, Bucko.”  Maybe the unsuccessful person isn’t trying or is otherwise misbehaving, or maybe they’re just low in the various natural endowments.

    I present these ideas as hypotheses.  I really don’t understand the feeling of guilt that a number of successful people apparently feel.

    • #6
  7. kedavis Coolidge
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… (View Comment):

    I understand why the unsuccessful people seek someone to blame.  They don’t want to face the possibility that their own decisions, their own conduct, has caused their problems.  This is often the case, though not always, and it’s usually more complicated in my view.  There is also a question of inherent endowment.  Some people do seem to be naturally better than others in a variety of ways — intelligence, personality traits like conscientiousness, physical abilities like strength or speed, beauty, and other characteristics.  I suppose that it would feel unfair to be rather dull witted, lazy, small, weak, and unattractive.

    But what about the successful people.   Why do they go along with this blame game?

    Because it gets them favorable opinion, thought, and treatment by those less successful, while costing them nothing?  (And that’s not counting things like “survivor’s guilt” or whatever it might be in these cases.)

    • #7
  8. Raxxalan Member
    Raxxalan
    @Raxxalan

    Dr. Bastiat: It must be the Republicans’ fault…

    But isn’t in in a certain sense? 

    Dr. Bastiat: The successful people feel bad for the less successful, so they also criticize and attack the family, religion, and societal norms that led to their own success.  Out of sympathy for the less fortunate.

    This is a sentiment out of a noble notion, care for others feelings; however, it elevates politeness above the truth in some way.  It robs people of the tough love they need to be able to assess and correct their situation.   

    • #8
  9. Retail Lawyer Member
    Retail Lawyer
    @RetailLawyer

    Democrat is the factory default setting in many areas, like the CA Bay Area, where I grew up.  All the cool people and government employees, including teachers you may have admired, are Dem.  Then you might fall into a profession (I’m thinking of a professional musician friend of mine) that skews left with almost no exceptions.  It helps a lot if you never take a Political Science or Economics class.  If you have intellectual curiosity you look into literature or art history (and manage to avoid Camille Paglia), or maybe new age nitwittery.  You find the squabbles of DC boring, you find politicians boring – and there you have it.  A Democrat.  Path of least resistance.

    It takes a lot to knock a person out of that posture.  It will not be easy.  Maybe even keep it secret.

    The activists and protesters are beyond the factory default.  They are miserable, unhappy people.

    • #9
  10. Old Bathos Moderator
    Old Bathos
    @OldBathos

    High altitude views of politics as if everyone were free to choose dispassionately miss a lot of details.

    A lot of Democratic voters (including the vast majority of African-American Democrats) don’t endorse the full lefty package and may even be hostile to the culture war positions of the party but focus on what they regard as bread-and-butter issues:  How likely is it that one party will provide more benefits and protections than the other?

    It has been a struggle for a lot of union guys to move away from the Democrats because they are not confident that GOP will be receptive to their specific policy preferences and pocketbook issues.

    When I worked as a lobbyist for a large trade group, there was a usually delicate game in play:  Do you oppose the latest bill by Democrats that will impose costs on your client firms or do you cut a deal–support the bill in exchange for specific exemptions and protections to be included in it.  CEOs would often write checks to the re-election campaigns of politicians they loathed because those guys had senior positions on key committees with jurisdiction over the industry.

    Within parties there are tradeoffs.  Establishment Republicans tend to be pro-choice, conservatives pro-life.  Compromises ensue.  In contrast, Democrats have largely purged cultural conservatives but they can still operate in the old less ideological more traditional zones of big spending (Manchin must have hauled off a ton of goodies for WV in exchange for his vote on the latest spending atrocity). Democrats are waking up to the fact that the coalitions they used to cobble together largely based on funding and patronage are shrinking because the woke zoons are literally kicking people out of the party.  Only as long as Democrats (a) can keep the spigots flowing (b) portray the GOP as a visceral threat to minorities and (c) keep the woke from scaring the straights out of the party can they continue to win.

    The weird distortion out there is that a relative handful of ultra-rich narcissists and perverts in league with professional political organizers have captured the Democratic Party in its entirety.  Even suburban middle-class Democrats vote against their own economic well-being and safety for the privilege of being among the enlightened.  That is a form of political interest that can only exist among people who think they are economically invulnerable and guaranteed advancement.

    The best-educated Americans are the dumbest voters.  Many routinely vote against their economic self-interest for the ephemeral joy of opposing the less enlightened.  The prevalent fantasies about climate, race, and sex made have made the stupidity deeper or it may break the narcissistic spell.  The Democratic coalition is weirder than it has ever been and that’s saying a lot.

     

     

     

    • #10
  11. Dr. Bastiat Member
    Dr. Bastiat
    @drbastiat

    Raxxalan (View Comment):

    Dr. Bastiat: It must be the Republicans’ fault…

    But isn’t in in a certain sense? 

    I suppose it is, in a sense.  In the same sense as it is my fault when one of my patients dies.  It’s my job to keep them alive, and now they died, so it’s my fault.

    But even if I made a mistake which led to their death, that’s not quite the same thing as taking out a gun and shooting them.

    If Republicans fail to stop the destruction of leftism, I suppose that it is at least partially the fault of the Republicans.  Fair enough.

    But I’ll still tend to blame the leftists – the ones who actually destroyed everything.

    • #11
  12. The Cynthonian Member
    The Cynthonian
    @TheCynthonian

    Phil Turmel (View Comment):

    Great essay. One confusing point:

    You say this:

    Dr. Bastiat:

    Society is fairly prosperous and stable, so many people lead happy, wealthy lives.

    But some do not. And those people don’t wonder why they have failed while others have succeeded. Instead, those people look for others to blame. They blame family, religion, societal norms, and other restrictive systems which limit their behavior.

    But a few paragraphs before that you say:

    Dr. Bastiat:

    But if they are responsible for their own disappointments, that leads to unpleasant periods of self-doubt and agonizing efforts at self-improvement. Very difficult stuff. No fun whatsoever.

    But if government is responsible for their disappointments, then it’s not their fault. Less pressure on them, I suppose.

    I would suggest that people don’t think government is responsible for their disappointments. They believe society, especially meritocratic capitalists, are responsible for their disappointments. They want government to be their tool to fix their disappointments by any means necessary, especially by making those icky capitalists be less meritocratic. They don’t actually admit that last little bit to themselves, because they’d have to admit to themselves that they didn’t merit the success they failed to achieve.

    This kind of cognitive dissonance is immune to arguments based on governments’ inability to actually do this.

    I agree with this.   Also, otherwise “nice” people vote for the Dems because our culture and media has preached for the last several decades that the Dems are the compassionate party.  Most people, especially if they attended or graduated from college in the last couple of decades, have been poorly educated in our failing academic system.   They don’t think or research for themselves.   They follow the cultural signals and the crowd.  If you challenge them, they deny your facts and data. 

    • #12
  13. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… (View Comment):
    But what about the successful people.   Why do they go along with this blame game?

    Guilt. Some fool once told them “you didn’t build that” and they believed him.

    • #13
  14. Bartholomew Xerxes Ogilvie, Jr. Coolidge
    Bartholomew Xerxes Ogilvie, Jr.
    @BartholomewXerxesOgilvieJr

    I think this makes more sense than you seem to think it means in your concluding paragraphs. There’s a lot of truth here.

    I tend to look at it in a more simplistic way, though: it’s all about growing up. Childhood (at least in a functional family) is a state where you aren’t trusted to make your own decisions, and your freedom is sharply limited; but your needs are met, you are protected from difficult decisions, and there is an authority you can appeal to when you think something is unfair and should be fixed. Leftists want to stay in that state forever; they’re afraid of growing up, and they’d rather keep living as children forever. So they behave like children, and they create the fantasy of a world where a new parent figure (the state) can right wrongs and make everything fair.

    But what my analysis misses is the misery and anger you write about, which goes a long way toward explaining the why. When I was a kid, I couldn’t wait to grow up and have the freedom to live my own life. I wasn’t afraid of taking on the responsibilities that would come with that, even if I had no idea how I would meet them. But something has changed, and we have generations of young people who are not at all interested in growing up and becoming actual responsible adults. Something fuels that.

    I would, however, add one other thought. This kind of analysis might apply to the thought leaders on the left, the ones who campaign for politicians, the ones who join protests and shout slogans and post on political forums. But I don’t think it applies to the bulk of the 50% you refer to who consistently vote for leftism. I think most voters (by far) are what we would consider low-information voters, and they really don’t give much thought to what they’re voting for. They don’t think about politics until election time, and then their thought process goes no further than tribal affiliation: “I’m a Democrat, and everybody I know thinks that Republicans are bad, so of course I’m going to vote for the Democrats.”

    • #14
  15. RufusRJones Member
    RufusRJones
    @RufusRJones

    David Foster (View Comment):

    Lots of truth in this. HOWEVER, important to not carry it too far….I know quite a few people who are to some degree aligned with the Left but who definitely appear to be happy, and are also reasonably successful to extremely successful.

     

    My brother-in-law is a textbook Democrat as described by Dennis Prager. All of that and a conservative lifestyle and he votes left no matter what. He doesn’t want to even discuss it anymore because he doesn’t know anything about public policy according to him.

    I think part of it is they can’t make the adjustment from Scoop Jackson, Lloyd Bentsen, and the guy from New York that I can’t think of the name of. Those days are long gone.

    Also central planning by smart people has to work. It never does, so they want to do more.

    • #15
  16. RufusRJones Member
    RufusRJones
    @RufusRJones

    Old Bathos (View Comment):

    The weird distortion out there is that a relative handful of ultra-rich narcissists and perverts in league with professional political organizers have captured the Democratic Party in its entirety.  Even suburban middle-class Democrats vote against their own economic well-being and safety for the privilege of being among the enlightened.  That is a form of political interest that can only exist among people who think they are economically invulnerable and guaranteed advancement.

    The best-educated Americans are the dumbest voters.  Many routinely vote against their economic self-interest for the ephemeral joy of opposing the less enlightened.  The prevalent fantasies about climate, race, and sex made have made the stupidity deeper or it may break the narcissistic spell.  The Democratic coalition is weirder than it has ever been and that’s saying a lot.

    I cannot possibly exaggerate how much I like this. lol

    • #16
  17. Justin Other Lawyer Coolidge
    Justin Other Lawyer
    @DouglasMyers

    Henry Racette (View Comment):

    My own thought is probably simpler: while I believe most of us are temperamentally conservative (for sound evolutionary reasons), a minority are temperamentally radical.

    I think this sounds right.  At least in American politics, with starkly divided “Red” and “Blue” teams, if you exclude from the discussion radical/intellectual leftists and radical/intellectual conservatives, the remaining “middle” is driven largely by a type of prejudice (to be clear, I am not suggesting the radicals are necessarily the intellectuals or vice versa–rather, I think within both the right and the left, those two categories are part of the end tails of the curve).

    I use the term “prejudice” here in its most literal sense.  People prejudge their allegiance based on things other than, for example, being willing to or not willing to take responsibility for one’s actions.  I simply don’t think most people evaluate voting preferences that way.

    Here’s an illustration (I’m intentionally trying to be vague, because I’m sure this post will (deservedly) be promoted to the main feed):  There are several people I know well who are personally very frugal/prudent, expect others to be frugal/prudent, criticize others for being frivolous/imprudent, are religious and seek out relatively conservative churches, etc.  But, they are Democrats.  They’ve always been Democrats, and they are stuck with the prejudice that Republicans are the party of wealthy people looking to keep themselves rich at the expense of the poor.  They identify positively with labor unions as a necessary part of the labor market.  They are very suspicious of Republicans, and they criticize policies of Republicans that I know they’d support if they came from Democrats.  I must also mention that they are lovely people, kind and generous, well-respected by most everyone who knows them.  Why don’t they see the destructive leftward drift of their party?  To some extent they do.  But the alternative is almost unthinkable.  They’re Democrats and they don’t vote for Republicans!

    I wonder how many people like them are out there.  I would guess they’re typical of about 2/3 to 3/4 of the Democratic party, and that there are analogs within the Republican party of a similar proportion.  I think that the relatively large number of independent voters who vote D one time and R the next have a different kind of prejudice.  It’s one that ignores policy almost entirely and is based on perception of personality.  Who’s the better guy/gal?  That’s who they vote for.  I guess in keeping with the “prejudice” theme, they have decided in advance to vote for the more likeable person.

    Humans are pretty tough to read because they aren’t (on the whole) rigorous thinkers or consistent logicians.  My guess is that what drives people to vote one way or another is a complex mix of nature and nurture that’s not easily confined to a box or two.

    • #17
  18. Raxxalan Member
    Raxxalan
    @Raxxalan

    Dr. Bastiat (View Comment):

    Raxxalan (View Comment):

    Dr. Bastiat: It must be the Republicans’ fault…

    But isn’t in in a certain sense?

    I suppose it is, in a sense. In the same sense as it is my fault when one of my patients dies. It’s my job to keep them alive, and now they died, so it’s my fault.

    Not the analogy I was thinking of, and it isn’t really your fault all men die.   

    In my example it would be like a doctor not telling his patient they have diabetes and need to change their diet, exercise more, etc, because he valued not hurting their feelings more than giving them the appropriate medical advice to improve their situation.  

    But even if I made a mistake which led to their death, that’s not quite the same thing as taking out a gun and shooting them.

    If Republicans fail to stop the destruction of leftism, I suppose that it is at least partially the fault of the Republicans. Fair enough.

    And many times they don’t and often they tend to enable it.

    But I’ll still tend to blame the leftists – the ones who actually destroyed everything.

    That is true they are certainly the most responsible.  I was just pointing out that a lot of Republicans, especially moderate Republicans elevate being nice over being truthful and at this time that is not necessarily the appropriate response.

    • #18
  19. Dr. Bastiat Member
    Dr. Bastiat
    @drbastiat

    Raxxalan (View Comment):
    I was just pointing out that a lot of Republicans, especially moderate Republicans elevate being nice over being truthful and at this time that is not necessarily the appropriate response.

    A very fair point. 

    • #19
  20. RufusRJones Member
    RufusRJones
    @RufusRJones

    Justin Other Lawyer (View Comment):
    Humans are pretty tough to read because they aren’t (on the whole) rigorous thinkers or consistent logicians.  My guess is that what drives people to vote one way or another is a complex mix of nature and nurture that’s not easily confined to a box or two.

    This is why centralized power and centralization is a bad idea and we are living through it. 

    • #20
  21. Keith Lowery Coolidge
    Keith Lowery
    @keithlowery

    Now that we have the GUTOL, and because everything must be divided along sub-group lines (because intersectionality!), I think we need an acronym for leftist feminists.  I propose GUT PUNCH: the Grand Unified Theory of Petulant Unimpressive Nitwit Caustic Harridans.  I am happy to entertain alternative acronyms so long as, like ‘GUT PUNCH’, they accurately capture the attitudinal ambiance of the sub-group being, er, acronym’d.

    On a more serious note:

    If you’re raised on nihilism, and you believe that your life has no greater purpose than the pursuit of immediate pleasures, and you believe it’s up to someone else to provide them for you, then nothing is ever good enough.  And you’re bound to be miserable.  Happiness becomes impossible.

    Happiness becomes impossible.  Or, putting it another way, resentment becomes a way of life.  Envy becomes a virtue. 

    Tolkien’s Gollum is an unvarnished picture of where this thinking leads, I’m afraid.

    • #21
  22. RufusRJones Member
    RufusRJones
    @RufusRJones

    Government Is How We Steal From Each Other™

    • #22
  23. Justin Other Lawyer Coolidge
    Justin Other Lawyer
    @DouglasMyers

    My 750th post: The GUTOL (Grand Unified Theory Of Leftism)

    I’d like to express my gratitude to @drbastiat for his ongoing contribution to Ricochet.  He and a few others are why I signed up, and I have greatly benefitted from his regular posts (even (especially?) the bourbon-soaked ones).  Thank you for taking time to enlighten, challenge, and entertain this community.

    • #23
  24. Barfly Member
    Barfly
    @Barfly

    GUT of the left? Genesis 3 is the most concise. They’ve taken their minds to be the whole, and in there they know what’s right.

    • #24
  25. CarolJoy, Not So Easy To Kill Coolidge
    CarolJoy, Not So Easy To Kill
    @CarolJoy

    Your statements make sense on a certain level.

    But on another larger level, we all need to consider that The Left has been told total lies for the last 7 years at least.

    Every concept that thoughtful Republicans accept as good and desirable has been vilified by the leaders on The Left. Even something as basic as having voter ID laws, insisting on a ban on ballot drop boxes, getting rid of easily hacked electronic election machinery is presented as a blood thirsty gang’s decision to prevent some impoverished Appalachian woman from being able to exercise her right to vote.

    Inherent in the backdrop of the Left’s major  ideas is the notion that it smacks of White Suprematism to love one’s country.

    None of this would stand up to the light of logic.

    So it is not far fetched to say that the main problem enveloping The Left is that of mental illness.

    Which is beyond the power of most people to de-construct.

     

    • #25
  26. Dr. Bastiat Member
    Dr. Bastiat
    @drbastiat

    Justin Other Lawyer (View Comment):

    My 750th post: The GUTOL (Grand Unified Theory Of Leftism)

    I’d like to express my gratitude to @ drbastiat for his ongoing contribution to Ricochet. He and a few others are why I signed up, and I have greatly benefitted from his regular posts (even (especially?) the bourbon-soaked ones). Thank you for taking time to enlighten, challenge, and entertain this community.

    Thanks so much Justin!  Very kind of you to say!

    • #26
  27. JoelB Member
    JoelB
    @JoelB

    The Democrats are very good at making it all about Fairness.

    It isn’t fair that a young girl should have to…

    It isn’t fair that gays can’t…

    It isn’t fair that someone unsure of their sexuality should have to…

    It isn’t fair that someone can’t get a better-paying job…

    The juvenile cry of “NO FAIR!” has led to many leftist victories.

     

     

     

     

    • #27
  28. Doug Kimball Thatcher
    Doug Kimball
    @DougKimball

    Henry Racette (View Comment):

    Interesting topic. (By the way, the “Henry” Doc mentions is undoubtedly @ henrycastaigne.)

    My own thought is probably simpler: while I believe most of us are temperamentally conservative (for sound evolutionary reasons), a minority are temperamentally radical. The temperamentally radical fall somewhere on a spectrum that ranges from nihilism on one end to progressivism on the other. Radicals generally enjoy breaking rules. The more intellectual radicals believe they can out-think the unwashed masses and craft a radical progressive utopia — or, perhaps, tell themselves that they believe that in order to justify breaking the rules.

    But I think it’s the rule-breaking that’s the real draw to radicals, just as it’s the comfort with tradition that’s the real draw to conservatives. I think very few people really have a strong desire to “make the world a better place,” however much we may love our family and those closest to us.

    Hank is on to something here.  People are drawn to be a part of something, to influence.  The last thing that they want to be are outcasts or apostates.  Being a conservative is hard work; we must understand history, the constitution, how our government is supposed to function, the essential principles of a liberal representative democracy.  Our government is deep stuff, and maddening in its convolution and in it’s shared and conflicting authorities.  Ask a Leftist to define Liberty.  They can’t.  The Left ignores all that stuff.  It even embraces, or at least tolerates, nihilism.  The intellectual barrier to being a Leftist is pitifully low.  Of course what the Democrats want is the ability to ignore our constitutional constraints, gain full control of all levers of government and impose whatever they want.  It is expedient to recruit malcontents and the ignorant bent on vengeance, promising them something for nothing.  Liberals don’t argue that toppling statues is wrong, that burning buildings is a crime, that rioting, violence and intimidation are uncivil, even though these things are obviously evil and illegal.  And further, there will always be radical malcontents who get off on rage.  The only way to deal with them is with an even stronger hand.  But the Democrats foster this rage.

    Leftism is simply authoritarianism.  Marx is no longer relevant.  The Left wants it all.  However, they are dumb.  They are all in on Climate Control, but fail to consider the fact that their remedies are far worse than the disease.  They are unrestrained spenders who authorize their own credit limits.  And they are corrupt (as are many Republicans.)  

    I know that there is a shift going on.  The Left will never change or give up.  My worry is that the Right will cave and compromise when it should not, just as many of the distructive constructs of the Left are facing challenge in the courts.

    • #28
  29. Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patriot) Member
    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patriot)
    @ArizonaPatriot

    RufusRJones (View Comment):

    David Foster (View Comment):

    Lots of truth in this. HOWEVER, important to not carry it too far….I know quite a few people who are to some degree aligned with the Left but who definitely appear to be happy, and are also reasonably successful to extremely successful.

     

    My brother-in-law is a textbook Democrat as described by Dennis Prager. All of that and a conservative lifestyle and he votes left no matter what. He doesn’t want to even discuss it anymore because he doesn’t know anything about public policy according to him.

    I think part of it is they can’t make the adjustment from Scoop Jackson, Lloyd Bentsen, and the guy from New York that I can’t think of the name of. Those days are long gone.

    Also central planning by smart people has to work. It never does, so they want to do more.

    Is the guy from NY Moynihan?

    • #29
  30. Zafar Member
    Zafar
    @Zafar

    Dr. Bastiat:

    The successful people feel bad for the less successful, so they also criticize and attack the family, religion, and societal norms that led to their own success, out of sympathy for the less fortunate.

    Many successful people are aware that their success is due to more than their individual striving.  That their circumstances of birth were also a(n unearned) factor.  They have the humility to place their own achievements in a context that goes beyond personal choices and personal responsibility.

    I’ve never seen Conservatives address this beyond a ‘life isn’t fair’ blow off, but imnsho that may be why some successful people you know vote Democrat.  Because life isn’t fair, and it never will be, but we have a moral obligation to try and make it more so – and that’s the Democrats’ thing.

    • #30
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