The Left Has Abandoned Ideas for Identities

 

Sen. Harry Reid — who apparently still runs the U.S. Senate despite the GOP being the majority — killed the President’s plan for fast-track authority on the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Leading up to the big vote, Obama traded barbs with free-trade opponent Elizabeth Warren, with the language growing increasingly personal.

In an April conference call, the President rebuffed Warren’s claim TPP was overly secretive. “The one that gets on my nerves the most is the notion that this is a secret deal,” Obama said. “Every single one of the critics saying this is a secret deal, or send out e-mails to their fundraising base that they’re working to stop a secret deal, could walk over and see the text of the agreement.”

Warren then claimed the bill might undermine the Dodd-Frank banking rules. “This is hardly a hypothetical possibility,” she said. “We are already deep into negotiations with the European Union on a trade agreement and big banks on both sides of the Atlantic are gearing up to use that agreement to water down financial regulations.”

A few days later, touring Nike’s headquarters, Obama mocked Warren’s statement: “She and I both taught law school, and you know, one of the things you do as a law professor is you spin out hypotheticals. And this is all hypothetical, speculative.”

Then it got personal. “The truth of the matter is that Elizabeth is, you know, a politician like everybody else,” he said. “And you know, she’s got a voice that she wants to get out there. And I understand that. And on most issues, she and I deeply agree. On this one, though, her arguments don’t stand the test of fact and scrutiny.”

Warren was having none of it: “The president said in his Nike speech that he’s confident that when people read the agreement for themselves, that they’ll see it’s a great deal. But the president won’t actually let people read the agreement for themselves. It’s classified.”

Now that the trade deal is dead, other Democrats are complaining about Obama’s treatment of Warren. Sen. Sherrod Brown implied that Obama’s criticism was not only wrong, but sexist:

“I think the president was disrespectful to her by the way he did that. I think that the president has made this more personal than he needed to. I know he disagrees… I think referring to her as first-name, when he might not have done that for a male senator, perhaps? I’ve said enough.”

I was unaware that the use of first names was a tell-tale sign of the patriarchy. But according to the Left’s rules, Obama is a sexist, Warren is a racist and white male Sherrod Brown is both.

The Ace of Spades blog notes that Obama’s personalized attacks are par for the course. The right has dealt with this for years, but Democrats are shocked to see it used against them:

[Leftists are] very good at insulting people. As David French has observed, and I will never get tired of quoting, the left — particularly the academic left, which Obama likes to think of himself a part of — does not argue, it simply assigns stigma. It smears. It insults.

The idea is not to win on the truth of an idea, in the classic manner of philosophy, but to prove one’s political power to arrange a majority of Hatred against one’s opponent.

Ideas are not proven to be true or false in this small-minded, vicious little system. Rather, the people advancing ideas are either demonstrated to be the victors — the ones who are more socially connected and better able to gin up majorities of hatred — or the Racists.

The left does not talk about ideas; they talk about people exclusively, and they are only capable of labeling their opponents ignorant or acting in bad faith (racism, political motives, etc.).

Democrats have so immersed themselves in the language of identity and grievance, their ability to discuss issues seems to have atrophied. Regardless of the subject, every debate quickly turns into a battle over the victimhood status of the debaters. Whether the topic is tax reform, ag subsidies, or filling potholes, allegations of white/male/cis privilege will come up in the first two minutes.

This damages politics and civic life, but I don’t see progressives ending this behavior any time soon. It’s too tied in to their worldview which organizes people by category instead of allowing them to flower as individuals.

There are 13 comments.

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  1. user_1065645 Podcaster
    user_1065645
    @DaveSussman

    Coughlins Law: When using language as a weapon, you may ultimately get killed by friendly fire.

    • #1
  2. Quinn the Eskimo Member
    Quinn the Eskimo
    @

    All American politics is becoming variations of identity politics.  It’s all a matter of which aspect of your identity is on the line at any moment.

    And honestly, everyone was on notice from the moment Obama said Hillary was “likable enough” what kind of person he was.  When the Left hates Hillary, that kind of behavior is awesome.  When the Left loves Elizabeth Warren, it is unacceptable.

    • #2
  3. Ed G. Member
    Ed G.
    @EdG

    David Sussman:Coughlins Law: When using language as a weapon, you may ultimately get killed by friendly fire.

    It’s not every day you encounter a Cocktail reference.

    • #3
  4. Capt. Spaulding Member
    Capt. Spaulding
    @CaptSpaulding

    Sherrod Brown has just noticed Obama’s little power ploy of using first names when referring to virtually anyone. And he considers it sexist? No, it’s just an Obama habit of playing oneupmanship. Surely you’ve heard it: Joe, for Biden, Paul, for Ryan, John, for Boehner. So Elizabeth is in good company, like one of the guys.

    • #4
  5. user_278007 Inactive
    user_278007
    @RichardFulmer

    Name calling is so much easier than thought.  Apply a label, then attack the label.  Extra points if the label’s “clever.”

    • #5
  6. Funeral Guy Inactive
    Funeral Guy
    @FuneralGuy

    Did Mitch McConnell brag to his constituents about his love affair with Ted “Help me, I’m drowning” Kennedy when he was running for Senate in 2014? No? I didn’t think so. The Republican Party is rotten at it’s very core. I can think of maybe four Republican Senators that are worth a rat’s patoot. The rest of them? What is the point of voting for them? They’re better than the Democrat? Yeah…that’s about it.

    • #6
  7. Autistic License Thatcher
    Autistic License
    @AutisticLicense

    I agree with Sherrod Brown. He has said enough.

    • #7
  8. Ricochet Inactive
    Ricochet
    @JohnPaul

    I’m disappointed the President didn’t get what he wanted in this case.

    • #8
  9. Eeyore Member
    Eeyore
    @Eeyore

    Jon Gabriel, Ed.: Democrats…ability to discuss issues seems to have atrophied.

    Were that but true, Jon. It is, however, a deliberate restructuring of what constitutes reality and how that reality is to be approached. And it is being deliberately programmed from the youngest age at which Progressives can snag kids.

    A California school district is issuing iPads with facial recognition software, allegedly to save K-6 from having to remember passwords. However it has another feature. It re-checks user identity every 60 seconds. Even if the user is still there, if it detects another face, the iPad locks up. The net effect: if you look over your kid’s shoulder while they work, the iPad will lock up within 60 seconds, preventing parents from knowing what their kids are working on.

    A Texas school district has told parents they are not to contradict what the schools are teaching what the district refers to as “our children.”

    Whereas I had at least a passing exposure to what constituted the Socratic method and the difference between fact and opinion* by the time I was out of high school, your kids are going to learn not to be racist, cis-normative, individualistic climate deniers. And that’s about all…

    *Admittedly, that whole fact/opinion thing took a few years to really sink in. After all, I went to college mostly in the Late Sixties™.

    • #9
  10. user_199279 Coolidge
    user_199279
    @ChrisCampion

    Having an identity means never having to say you’re sorry.  Which is not too far away from signing up for the Brownshirts, by the way.  At some point, it will be decided that dissent is not the highest form of patriotism, conformity is, and we’ll all be invited to shut up by the people holding up the Constitution as the reason why they’re telling us to shut up.

    • #10
  11. user_648492 Coolidge
    user_648492
    @MichaelBrehm

    Chris Campion

     …we’ll all be invited to shut up by the people holding up the Constitution as the reason why they’re telling us to shut up.

    I think that happened last week when Chris Cuomo tweeted that hate speech isn’t protected by the Constitution. Fortunately, everyone laughed at him, by and large, but still…

    • #11
  12. Jame Hall Inactive
    Jame Hall
    @UniverseHall

    “The one that gets on my nerves the most is the notion that this is a secret deal,” Obama said. 

    Doesn’t it seem that he spends an awful lot of time complaining about things that annoy him or get on his nerves? Having now been alive during, what, six presidencies (Carter, Reagan, Bush, Clinton, Bush and etcetera) I don’t remember any of those other guys complaining as much.

    • #12
  13. user_199279 Coolidge
    user_199279
    @ChrisCampion

    UniverseHall:Doesn’t it seem that he spends an awful lot of time complaining about things that annoy him or get on his nerves? Having now been alive during, what, six presidencies (Carter, Reagan, Bush, Clinton, Bush and etcetera) I don’t remember any of those other guys complaining as much.

    This helps explain why he plays golf so much.  To ease off on all the pressure he’s under, the things that get on baby’s nerves.

    He’s arguing about transparency now? That’s why people in his administration so happily plead the fifth.  Because being subpoenaed and all gets on their nerves?

    • #13

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