How To Be Right: The Art of Being Persuasively Correct (2015)
WHY THE RIGHT LOSES ARGUMENTS
The left is excellent at extolling horrible ideas; the right is horrible at extolling excellent ideas.
Compare Russell Brand with Mark Levin. My politics align more with Levin, but Brand still makes me giggle. And I hate his politics. He’s a piece of hairy dog shit, but he’s quick-witted—and that makes him a persuasive piece of hairy dog shit.
Republicans handle humor the way Democrats handle your money: badly.
It makes sense. One party masters creativity, the other practicality. They should work together. But instead they hate each other for being good or better at something they fail to master themselves. To persuade, we need to admit our weaknesses and figure out how to eliminate them. Yes, I mean silencing the most embarrassing among us and finding fresh faces who think Right but act left. Which means for the older Right: who cares if the younger types smoke weed or ain’t straight—you’re on the same team, so give them a hug, you old jerk.
Frankly, I’d rather hang with a funny liberal than an angry conservative. Because a funny liberal teaches me to fight, and an angry conservative forces me to apologize. My gut tells me that many feel this conflict is all about your age—why look for righties when, sooner or later, they look for you? It’s inevitable: a wise liberal becomes a conservative, but needs to dress it up with conditions. “I’m a fiscal conservative and a social liberal,” they’ll say. Which really means you’re a libertarian. Or too abashed to simply say, “I’m a right-winger.” It’s why teenage conservatives and elderly liberals are equally strange. They both defy the engines of experience and wisdom.
But these days, I fear we don’t have the luxury of time. We can’t wait for these millennials to grow the hell up. The world’s a mess, and it’s time we create an army of young smart people who can meet the challenges that we are about to face, and in a hurry. But first, here’s why we keep failing:
1.We have been too successful. Since the end of World War II, when we helped rid the world of evil, we unleashed decades of relative calm, which gave us free time. That free time allowed future generations to contemplate rebellion as a hobby. Dad and mom sucked. And it was fun to remind them of that—especially when you didn’t have to worry about where your next meal was coming from. That hobby turned into a profession—in academia, rebellion became the curriculum. In the media, it became the default stance. In government, it became a wonderful way to guilt people into paying for stuff and ceding power to you. In short, shallow rebellion is the perfect fit for liberalism, for its heroic narrative needs no intellectual rigor.
2.The left have the young. Because liberals infest academia like defiant, pierced termites, they’re the key supplier of failed ideas to the young minds lining up to feel smart. And nothing makes you feel smarter than telling people older and more experienced than you that they’re not just wrong but evil. This includes veterans, businessmen, law enforcement, and anyone who might still believe in American greatness. This fuels all contemporary protest, as you watch young white undergrads screaming into the faces of exhausted, older police officers who are just trying to do their jobs.
3.Liberalism is romantic. For the same reasons as above, there is glamour to the liberal getup—and it appeals to both sexes. Women love a man who fights for her rights, even if the fight suggests she can’t fight for herself. And men dig the fight because impressionable undergrads find it cool that he’s so into the war on patriarchy, while leeching off his parents for tuition. It’s a luxury: you can hold destructive opinions without actually experiencing any of their consequences. Nothing makes speaking truth to power easier than a nice trust fund. Again, witness the recent protests in Ferguson and Baltimore: students come in and cheer the looting, then leave. It’s the businesses left behind that pay for the price of the white, carefree undergrad.
4.The deck is stacked. It’s not news but it’s worth repeating: liberal arguments get help and traction from academia and media, who are populated by sympathizers with allegiances to subversion. This means that destructive ideas don’t simply sprout, they flourish, and infest the cultural landscape like toxic weeds disguised as daisies. These ideas find nourishment everywhere. The good news: because it is so easy to get a good grade for a bad idea, or to get a story published because it meets the editor’s assumptions, their intellectual muscles are lazy, verging on atrophied—after decades of free rein (see the collapse of Rolling Stone, a magazine fearful of questioning conventional leftism on any topic from rape to terror). The bad news: If you disagree with them, you will get nowhere in the short term. You will be ostracized on campus, and you will be thwarted at work. It’s punishment for being different. But don’t expect anyone to notice it.