Ann Althouse at her blog posts the question "Have you ever had a thought on the topic of race that isn't set generations in the past?" The question was posed by a commenter about Matthew Yglesias on Newt Gingrich. And the question has triggered something that has boiling in the back room of the brain for awhile: Do members of the Left actually know any Republicans?
If you look both near and far, you will find Democrats who say that Republicans who oppose Obama are racists. Others go further and say that Republicans want a return to the plantation economy.
Others feel that racism doesn't go far enough and refer to them as Nazis. Invoking the term Nazis is usually a sign of the failure of the argument, but some take the position proudly. It's not just the rest of the Left in this country that act so ridiculously, even here in Montana, the appellation Republican utomatically means that you are a racist/Nazi.
Part of it is amusing to me. As I have said before, the perjorative "racist" has lost its panache as a tool to shut people up thanks to its unjustified overuse. And when that fails, especially in any argument involving fiscal spending, the next accusation is almost always that Republicans want to kill old people, women and minorities. Sort of reminds me of James Taranto's Best of the Web in which he regularly inserts the fake New York Times headline "World to End! Women and Minorities hit hardest." For my humor impaired Leftist (is there any other kind?) friends, the implication is that the end of the world would be an equal opportunity disaster. I am just not certain that that many of the Left would appreciate this.
But here is the problem with these outlandish accusations: How do you negotiate with someone that you equate with "evil"? Suppose you could go back to Germany in 1934. Would you be willing to tell Hitler that his killing ten million people in concentration camps, of whom six million were Jews is unacceptable, but that you would be willing to accept five million dead, so long as Jews don't die at a disproportionate rate? You save five million people, a good thing no? Except you are still condoning evil. Same with slavery. If at the secession of the Confederacy you had the opportunity to be Jefferson Davis and negotiate with Abraham Lincoln, saying that you would be willing to release half the slaves from bondage if the South would be left alone. In the long run, you could possibly prevent the costliest war in American history. If you were Lincoln, could you accept such a proposal? Of course not!
I know that there are the Leftist fanatics, the equivalent of jihadi suicide bombers who really don't care what they say, so long as it has a negative effect on their Republican opponents. They are immune from logic and facts and have no purpose but to destroy. From their appearance in the media, they do seem to be the most vocal.
But do any on the Left really know Republicans? Do they honestly believe their trope about Republicans not just wishing ill, but actually being evil? If there are those who know Republicans, isn't it hard to say that the nice family that lives up the block and contribute regularly to charitable causes like the homeless shelter, or who are willing to take in foster children from abusive homes really are Nazis? What about the Republicans who are hiring inexperienced youngsters in their businesses in the hope that they can make them into a productive worker and citizen? Are they really so evil that they deserve such hatred?
My biggest complaint about Republicans, is that they really don't know much about the poor. They have mistaken beliefs that one can get Social Security Disability payments for being a drug user or alcoholic. This hasn't been true for years. Republicans also don't recognize the damage done through the social network programs that are ostensibly to help the poor. The dehumanizing treatment to receive aid has a tremendous effect on people with personal pride.
On the other hand, my Democrat friends ignore the abuse by people who live off of the system without any intention of getting off of it. Consider the twentysomething who is so desperately trying to get the $610 a month plus Medicaid and has no intentions of doing anything but playing video games (if that was ever an occupation, we would cut the SSI rolls in half) and dabble in criminal activity to supplement their income, and is completely satisfied with the arrangement. Those of us who work on the frontlines of poverty see everyone of the above. Add in the lazy, deliberately stupid, and con artists who have figured out how to milk the system, and you have created a system for parasites, not for the downtrodden.
Our problems are too complex for most people to comprehend, and from that the demagogs arise with full throated fury to decry the other. But if we are to discuss our issues, the Left needs to realize how unproductive their attacks are. I would never bother to discuss political and economic theory with someone who thinks I am a Nazi or racist. Why would they want to do the same thing if they believe I am one of their enemies? But they need to remember that the Left is a minority in this country. Even among poor people, there is a desire to achieve economically. Very few of them believe that they are condemned to poverty. But the system of social services helps to keep them that way.
Until the Left leaves their comfortable enclaves where everyone thinks the same, it is easy for them to believe that Republicans in general, and Tea Party in particular are singularly evil. As long as they think that way, they are cut off from a wealth of experiences that would improve their lives.
Too bad for them.