Progressivism: Its own convenient parody

Progressivism: Its own convenient parody

There’s defying parody, and then there’s making thermonuclear war on it.

I admit, I looked all over this website – Forward Progressives – with suspicion.  It didn’t seem possible for any site to be so ingenuously parodic.  But apparently it’s what it seems to be: not writers making brilliant fun of leftist buzz-themes, but writers actually stringing them together, with earnest intent, and putting the results up as blog posts.

If it is a parody site, I take full responsibility for missing the cues.  Maybe I’m better with sites that attempt to parody the right.

At any rate, the post that caught my eye was this one, which advises us of a “simple truth”: that President Obama is too intelligent for Republicans to understand.

The burden of the author’s thesis is that Obama relies on systematic abstractions to shape his policy prescriptions, and therefore, Republicans can’t follow him.

The author doesn’t put it in those words.  He refers to Obama’s approach as “using ‘big picture’ thinking.”  I’ll let him make his case:

Which brings me to President Obama. While I’m not calling him a genius, I do think he’s extremely intelligent. I also believe that his tendency to use “big picture” thinking while drafting policy is something most Republican voters simply can’t understand.

Take “Obamacare” for instance. It’s not a “fix health care today” law. In fact, the law itself is made to grow and evolve over time. My belief is that it’s a springboard to true socialized medicine. But, as it is now, it’s a long-term outlook on our health care. While many Republicans want to look at the “now” aspect of the Affordable Care Act, they seem unable to grasp the reality that as more Americans get health insurance, giving them access to preventable care, this lowers expenses down the road for everyone. If people can prevent very costly heart attacks, strokes or other debilitating health issues now, that’s an overall savings for practically everyone from consumers to health insurers to doctors who now have more patients. Quite literally, improving the overall health of Americans will improve the health of this country. It even makes sense for our economy. If workers are healthier, because they have access to quality health care, that means there will be fewer people calling in sick to work, showing up sick to work (putting other employees at risk) or relying on government programs because their health conditions (that were preventable) render them unable to work at all.

But to see all of that requires “big picture” thinking and Republicans seem unable to understand anything beyond the spoon-fed bumper sticker talking points they’re given by the GOP and the conservative media.

There’s more, but it’s all the same, with an effect much like someone sitting down at the piano and plunking middle C over and over.

It seems hardly worth going through the obvious counterarguments.  But I think it is worth pointing out that the epistemic chasm here, between young Mr. Clifton’s view and that of a typical Republican (or conservative), isn’t about a disparity of thinking abilities.  He’s not stupid, by any means.  Manifestly – screechingly, poundingly, obviously – the chasm is about a disparity of maturity and moral wisdom.

The axiom that, no matter what, you don’t just jack around the health care arrangements of your hard-working fellow citizens – that’s the kind of principle that dads used to tell their kids they’d understand some day, when the kids had had to work for their own food and shelter for a while.

If dads do still tell their kids that, it seems the dads’ voices are being drowned out by a sycophantic culture that encourages recent graduates to think they’ve been endowed with a magical, unprecedented vision.

Only one combination of factors can lead you to proclaim without embarrassment to your fellow men that it doesn’t matter if they’ve lost their health insurance today, and can’t have the back operation they urgently need right now; what matters is that in 10 or 20 years, they won’t have a heart attack because the overall health care system will have evolved.  That combination is youth, inexperience, and arrogance.

College actually used to be more about whacking that nonsense out of you.  This was partly to prepare you for life, which has little mercy on you and your nonsense.  Any 10-year-old can tag a blog post “republican stupidity,” for all the good it does.  But it takes patience and humility, as well as training, to try to think productively – empirically, judiciously – about why people do what they do, and why the human race keeps doing so many of the same things over and over again.  The point of academic inquiry has traditionally been to get beyond the cheap shortcut of “republican stupidity” tags.

If we go by the “likes” and “shares” at his post, thousands of people are in sync with Clifton’s perspective.  What will they do when they find out there isn’t anyone with a super-intelligent vision who can fix everything they don’t like about the world by levying mandates on other people?

I hope their landing isn’t too hard.  At least there’s no occasion to write parodies of their musings in the meantime.

J.E. Dyer

J.E. Dyer

J.E. Dyer is a retired Naval Intelligence officer who lives in Southern California, blogging as The Optimistic Conservative for domestic tranquility and world peace. Her articles have appeared at Hot Air, Commentary’s Contentions, Patheos, The Daily Caller, The Jewish Press, and The Weekly Standard.


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