As I watch the political left drift more into “regressive left” territory, where they try to silence dissent, bully people into their views, use the government to enforce them, and threaten freedom of speech and thought, I am reminded of an episode a few years ago that really showed the hypocritical and contradictory attitude of so many progressives. A couple of years ago, there was controversy over a man named Jonathan Gruber, an MIT economist. He was an important consultant for Obamacare (this is indisputable, no matter how much backtracking the White House and the likes of Pelosi tried to do), and videos surfaced of him admitting that the White House intentionally misled the Congressional Budget Office and the American voter in order to get the bill passed. He called the American voter “stupid” and then proclaimed that while the lack of transparency was unfortunate, it was well worth it because he’d rather have the bill than not.
Naturally, conservatives had a field day with this while it sent liberals reeling, with many in the liberal media being slow to discuss the story and criticize him and Obama. It was doubly entertaining to see many liberal journalists or commentators try to spin it. To his credit, liberal comedian Jon Stewart, who at the time was still host of The Daily Show, admitted the whole thing was slimy and ridiculed how the Democrats responded (though he still defended the bill), but satirist Stephen Colbert, then host of The Colbert Report and in the typical guise of his conservative character, did nothing but defend the left. MSNBC predictably downplayed the whole thing. Bill Maher, unsurprisingly, was completely unapologetic. This is not even mentioning many columnists who took up the task of trying to defend the integrity of the administration on this issue.
A couple of quotes from Maher and Colbert are very telling when it comes to the mind of progressives these days. Maher agreed that the voters of America are stupid, and because of that, they cannot be trusted. He likened Gruber’s and the administration’s strategy as hiding medicine in dog food because the dog is too stupid to realize that the medicine is good for it. Colbert, in his satirical way, stated, “Yes, contemptuous Democrats looked down on the American people from their ivory towers and thought, ‘What a pathetic horde of dullards, let’s give them health care!’” I actually find Colbert to be funny, but I was pretty disappointed at how defensive he came off and how non-sensical his satire was that day. After all, healthcare wasn’t “given,” as if it was something free that dropped from the sky; it became a mandated purchase. And of course all government programs are funded by taxes (another specious thing he made fun of); the issue is that Obamacare represented what was effectively a new tax even though they wrote the bill to try to hide this fact. The message of these two (and other progressives) was clear: We know better because you’re stupid, so shut up and accept it.
There are two ironies represented here. One is that, in the progressives’ supposed zeal to help the average person, they view that person with utter contempt. In fact, they’re so sure of their superiority that they favor political expediency over extended debate, no matter how misleading they have to be or how many boundaries of the Constitution they can push and or even break. Two, Gruber’s assessment of the stupidity of the American voter actually isn’t about conservatives who have made these criticisms of Obamacare for years; clearly, they were not the ones fooled. He is targeting those people who blindly swallowed everything the administration said about the bill. In other words, there are a lot of wannabe intellectuals on the left who want to feel more enlightened and more educated, but the true elite like Gruber view them with scorn because they’re the main ones who got bamboozled.
Remember the Supreme Court decision on the individual mandate? They ruled the individual mandate was a tax… even though the bill did not contain explicit tax language. It was specifically argued as the bill was rammed through Congress that it wasn’t a tax, but that word is bad news for the “stupid” voter. So it gets passed as not a tax, with no tax language in the bill… and then, to rescue the bill, the White House calls it a tax in front of the Supreme Court. And five Justices bought that argument. Liberals rejoiced, even though Scalia rightly pointed out that it’s not the job of the Supreme Court to essentially re-write laws for Congress in order to make them more constitutional. If Congress wrote a bad law and a law that needs more explicit tax language, then the law needs to get sent back to them so they can write it again. It’s not the Supreme Court’s job to protect the American people from their bad decisions in voting and to protect Congress from writing bad laws. Of course, going that route takes time and energy and there is no guarantee of success… so screw that, let’s make the Supreme Court legislators! At least, we should only allow that when they are basically making laws that we ourselves like. In any case, this inconsistency was pointed out by critics years ago, so it shouldn’t be that much of a surprise to see a guy like Gruber boasting about the deception. It was a surprise only to the enlightened, progressive, and allegedly smarter-than-thou left.
One can possibly feel a bit of sympathy for Gruber; after all, he’s not wrong. I’m not a politician or connected to politics, so I can say this: Many Americans voters are “stupid.” I’m not saying they’re just ignorant, though they’re that too (and I’m not going to sit here and claim to be a political expert myself). I’m saying that they have a fundamental inability to analyze the logic behind arguments and to not let their personal preferences and emotions unduly corrupt their reasoning for what is good for the country as a whole. However, here is where I’d differ from Gruber and people like him: I think a great many of those “stupid” people are among the alleged intellectual elite that Gruber himself is a part of, but of course they think they’re simply wiser than everyone else. I also do not think that, just because the American voters are generally misinformed, that it is justified to intentionally mislead them and to cut corners in order to get what I want.
This attitude of parentalism is nowhere close to a genuine care for the average person, and it’s actually quite dangerous. There’s no question that the vast majority of academia these days leans left, especially in our Ivy League schools. In a further irony, despite the ideals of liberalism, the more left many schools become, the less opportunity they give for the opposing side to have a legitimate voice at the university. Thus, they end up churning out graduates who have been indoctrinated, and because they learned their view at America’s most prestigious universities, they are considered (and consider themselves) especially wise and intellectual. This can be seen in their typical stereotypes of conservatives: 1. Southern, white, farmer racists who scream Bible verses about Hell at people and also have at best a high school education or 2. Exceedingly rich and immoral businessmen who themselves have fooled the stupid people under them. The level of contempt for people who disagree with them is telling about their high opinions of themselves. This attitude is clear in Hillary Clinton, as her Wikileaks email shows her team’s complete scorn for pro-life advocates, particularly Catholics.
Do you know to what these attitudes are most similar, thinking the masses are just stupid morons that need to be taken care of by Big Brother? Totalitarian states. Even many liberals’ ideas of education are suspect because what they consider good education is teaching what they themselves hold dear, another irony as they try to indoctrinate students. I’m not saying that modern liberals are closet communists, but I am merely pointing out that many of their methods are laughably inconsistent with their supposed principles of representing the average American and that their attitude towards the masses is much like so-called benevolent dictators.
Democracy, in all its varied forms, is not a perfect system, and the Greeks themselves understood that (or at least, Plato did). I get it: Congress is often a giant mess that does stupid stuff and gets nothing substantial done, and it’s frustrating as heck to go through them to make laws. However, there is a reason why the Founding Fathers made the system so that there were numerous checks and balances that kept all the different branches of power in line, no matter how frustrating it can be. In many ways, democracy is the most reasonable system we have given the imperfections of human beings. It can be understandably annoying because changes that we feel are logical or just plain right can take a long time to get done as it has to get debated, written, re-written, voted on, etc.
Nonetheless, when that frustration turns into a desire to skip over the set procedures and impose policies through deception and sheer political power, it shows an arrogance that this human fallenness does not apply to a certain elite class. And when that happens, it’s not that far a putt to get to what Plato considered the least just form of a state: Tyranny. This is why the regressive left is so concerning: They’re not interested in simply leaving people alone in their views. They’re interested in destruction of things that don’t conform to what they want, and they will cut corners to do it. It is both entertaining and pathetic that they have absolutely no self-awareness on how close they are to the type of authoritarians they allegedly hate.