Matt Drudge tweets that Margaret Thatcher’s death is “A horrible jolt this morning [reminding us] how awful current leaders are.” There are numerous reasons why, some of which are explored in Glenn Reynolds’ column in today’s New York Post, in which he modestly proposes that “We need an IQ test for politicians:”
But ignorance and incompetence are on regular display among our political class. Its members are good at what they do — but what they do, really, is raise money and win elections. There’s no particular correlation between those skills and any other kind of competence. In fact, given their record of passing increasingly dumb laws, if there’s any correlation at all, it’s a negative one.
Gun law isn’t the only example of regulation-by-dimness, but it’s certainly a prime arena. The 1994 Assault Weapons Ban, for example, focused entirely on cosmetic characteristics. At an Association of American Law Schools meeting that year, I watched law professor Joseph Olson turn a plain-vanilla Ruger Mini 14 into a dreaded “Assault Weapon” by adding a pistol grip, folding stock, bayonet lug (“not much bayonet-lug crime,” he joked) and so on.
All the actual gun-parts were the same; the law in question focused instead on flashy accessories — like regulating cars based on mag wheels and spoilers, instead of the horsepower in the engine.
Do politicians really think that such transparently silly rules make us safer? It’s hard to say. The brighter ones no doubt realize that the whole thing is a sham, useful mostly for rallying the troops, garnering TV time and distracting voters from things like lingering unemployment and the ever-mounting debt.
On the other hand, how many of the “brighter ones” are there, really? The evidence doesn’t look good.
It would be easy to jump from Glenn’s article to this tweet from Donna Brazile, Al Gore’s 2000 campaign manager and current vice chairwoman of the DNC:
— Donna Brazile (@donnabrazile) April 8, 2013
However, it’s yet another example of a related phenomenon, which also effectively lowers the IQ of our would-be Ruling Class. As former CNN anchor Soledad O’Brien routinely demonstrated when faced with issues or people she disagreed with (not the least of which were those defending the Second Amendment), the attitude on the left seems to be, “I don’t understand this; therefore it’s wrong. And because it’s wrong, I’m not willing to educate myself on why someone else might disagree with me, so that I can better defend my own opinion. They’re bad people, I’m a good person, and I wish to stay that way.” They’re not willing to come to grips with what GK Chesterton dubbed a century ago as “The Paradox of the Wall:”
In the matter of reforming things, as distinct from deforming them, there is one plain and simple principle; a principle which will probably be called a paradox. There exists in such a case a certain institution or law; let us say, for the sake of simplicity, a fence or gate erected across a road. The more modern type of reformer goes gaily up to it and says, “I don’t see the use of this; let us clear it away.” To which the more intelligent type of reformer will do well to answer: “If you don’t see the use of it, I certainly won’t let you clear it away. Go away and think. Then, when you can come back and tell me that you do see the use of it, I may allow you to destroy it.”
This paradox rests on the most elementary common sense. The gate or fence did not grow there. It was not set up by somnambulists who built it in their sleep. It is highly improbable that it was put there by escaped lunatics who were for some reason loose in the street. Some person had some reason for thinking it would be a good thing for somebody. And until we know what the reason was, we really cannot judge whether the reason was reasonable.
But obviously, a bad person built that wall (even though he didn’t really build it, as Mr. Obama might say). Therefore, there’s no reason not to smash it and move “Forward.” Or as Ace wrote in January, at the height of this year’s distractionary* freakout by the American left over guns (as opposed to their distractionary freakouts over guns at the beginning of 2011 and 2012):
As I mentioned with regard to Piers Morgan, there is a certain level of pride that attaches to being ignorant of those one considers his inferiors. After all, it’s the natural duty of the simple shopkeeper to know the names of the Great Lords, but it is not the duty of the Great Lords to know the names of the shopkeepers. In fact, it’s the Great Lords’ class obligation to go out of their way not to know the names of the shopkeepers, because this Duty to Know flows in one direction — upwards — and hence ignorance of one’s lessers tends to solidify and reify the assumptions of certain castes being superior to others. It makes certain that everyone understands who’s important, and who’s not.
(I know, I sound like a communist — I can’t help it. I have to agree with Dennis the Peasant — “I mean, class is what it’s all about.” I guess I would say I’m agreeing with the communist critique of the rigid reification of class structures, but I happen to think the communists and their pink fellow travelers have largely captured the upper classes. I guess by my theory they’re so good at this because they’ve spent so long plotting vengeance for the exact same slights (which they largely imagined). In a similar way they’ve gotten quite good at blacklisting and guilt-by-association, eh?)
At any rate, it is your duty to know the values and customs of living of Piers Morgan, but due to his high station (ahem) he is proudly ignorant of yours. As is so often the case in our increasingly dysfunctional and nasty politics — in which certain parties refuse to even admit that their opponents are free citizens entitled to have beliefs at all — the Out-Classes are deemed all-but-officially Beneath Notice.
And because, as a grocer’s daughter herself, Thatcher identified with the shopkeeper, the entrepreneur, and others Beneath Notice, there’s simply no reason for her opponents to understand why she did so.
* Is that a word? Well, it might be eventually.
Update: Business Insider, a Website founded by banned former Merill Lynch researcher turned Slate and Yahoo contributor Henry Blodgett, declares that “Margaret Thatcher Was Freakishly Correct About Why The Euro Would Be Such A Big Disaster.”
Not “astonishingly” or “surprisingly” or even “unexpectedly,” the current favorite word of liberal business journalists to describe when bad things happen as a result of socialist policy, but “freakishly.” Thanks for playing; your bias and fear of the conservative Other has been noted.
Related: Dave Swindle on “The Paradoxical Marxist Response to Margaret Thatcher’s Death:”
1. It’s sort of strange the way that atheist Marxists are so happy to declare belief in an afterlife childish except when they feel a need for a hell to stick in everyone they hate.
2. It’s even stranger the way people who normally roll around in moral relativism all of a sudden gain the confidence to label the most effective opponents of Communism as not just evil, but “pure evil.”
Exactly. And it’s very much reminiscent of Andrew Breitbart’s lefty enemies tweeting that he was gay (which would be quite a shock to his wife and kids), only to be reminded by Andrew about hypocritical they were for using that word as an epithet.