Our friends on The Left, especially The Professional Left, use emotional arguments to win hearts and minds. We conservatives are typically not very good at storytelling, which puts us at a disadvantage when trying to win debates over public policy. This disadvantage becomes more pronounced when we fail to counter the false premises of The Left. When we let an underlying premise go unchallenged, we have already lost the argument.
Too many Republicans, and even too many conservatives (not necessarily the same thing), fall into the trap of The Professional Left every single time. They’ll meet the Democrats on their turf, leaving their false premises unchallenged in an attempt not to look like a typically mean Republican. When we use the language of The Left to try to beat them, the referee might as well declare a TKO before we even enter the ring. If we conservatives permanently want to change the arguments over taxes, budgets, health care, immigration, abortion, and any number of a host of public policies, we must first learn to recognize the false premises of The Left and call them out for what they are. As Napoleon learned at Waterloo, it never works out when you fight your enemy on their home turf. Reclaim the battlefield, and you claim the battle.
Here are Eight False Premises of The Left. Learn to recognize and counter them, and the argument will flow your way every time (at least until you’re called Hitler, invoking Godwin’s Law). Which false premise of The Left drives you craziest?
1. Mass shootings are on the rise! If we could just get rid of all the guns, people wouldn’t be so violent!
This argument bears all the hallmarks of a False Premise of The Left. Take a crisis, blow it out of proportion, and demand emergency action. Voila! Rights revoked, and everybody feels better! This is the classic argument of the advocates of gun control. This argument presupposes that humans aren’t naturally predisposed toward violence to assert their dominance in a dispute.
In order to defeat this argument, one must know the freely available stats on the rates of violent crime. Every outlet you can find, left-leaning, right-leaning, government stats, whatever is out there — they all show a dramatic drop in violent crime since its peak in the early ’90s. This article from National Review gives a good overview. The upshot is that as funding for police increases, violent crime decreases. About those mass shootings? According to John Lott, France had more deaths from mass shootings in 2015 than the U.S. had in all eight years of the Obama administration. This is not a uniquely American problem, and the frequency of attacks is a mere 0.078 per million people. Statistically, the chance of dying in a mass shooting event is roughly equivalent to dying in a severe weather event. Is it awful? Of course. Should we do more? Absolutely. Should we trample the rights of law-abiding gun owners? What do you think?
As to guns making people violent, I’m reminded of the old episode of All in the Family . (Incidentally, it’s telling that the gun control argument was around long before this episode from the early ’70s.) Gloria is trying to explain how many people are killed by gun violence, and Archie has a response that only he could give:
The logic is simplistic, but it hits on human nature — something The Left would like either to ignore or to change. We are sometimes violent. We should absolutely strive to reduce violence in our society and punish wrongdoers. But to blame the guns is obviously overly simplistic and ultimately ineffective.
2. Police target minorities more for arrest and harassment
The common refrain among Black Lives Matter protesters is that police all across the country are killing our young black men and white America doesn’t care. The movement has been enabled and encouraged, in large part, by white liberal guilt and limousine liberals who rarely care about more than appearing to be sympathetic while not actually socializing with those in lower income tax brackets.
The problem is that this underlying premise is not accurate. If you analyze the FBI data, as self-proclaimed “radical moderate” Clay Travis has done, you come to the clear conclusion that black men are less likely to be shot during arrests than other races. Since black men commit murder and violent crime at about twice the rate of other races, to say that police are unfairly targeting them for arrest is also inaccurate. So before you let a BLM activist browbeat you into submission, remember that the entire movement is based on a false premise of unfair police targeting.
3. The gender pay gap
Women make seventy-seven cents on the dollar compared to men! America is misogynist! The free markets are unfair! That’s why we need Equal Pay Day and action by the president and for the government to make those evil capitalists be more fair!
When one takes into account the different professions towards which women gravitate versus those preferred by men, along with time off taken for family reasons (thereby affecting overall experience levels), it becomes fairly obvious that women simply make different career choices than men, generally speaking — especially younger women 25-34, who make 90% of what men of the same age earn.
Oh, plus it is always a source of great amusement to be reminded that those crowing loudest about women being paid less than men for the same work — the likes of Elizabeth Warren and Barack Obama — have been shown time and time again to pay the women in their offices less than men.
4. 97% of scientists believe that man-made global warming is real
— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) May 16, 2013
The problem with this claim, endlessly spouted by the likes of Barack Obama, John Kerry, Bill Nye, and Al Gore, is that it is 100% bovine fertilizer. It is made up out of whole cloth. The statistic doesn’t exist. One guy named John Cook once published a paper analyzing the available research on climate and determined that 97% of the papers he analyzed said that “the Earth is warming up and human emissions of greenhouse gasses are the main cause.”
Right off the bat, it’s obvious that the premise never even says that the Earth’s warming is “dangerous,” despite the Tweet From On High By The Lightbringer™. Furthermore, if you examine the papers analyzed by the author of the study, there’s no way of knowing how exhaustive his research was, or if he left any papers out that disagreed with his premise. Alex Epstein gave a ton of detail about this in a column at Forbes.
Several of the scientists whose work was included in the 97% study protested that their work was mischaracterized as an endorsement when no such opinion was intended.
And anyway, since when is science done by consensus? The scientific method requires a theory to fit the results of the available observations, not the other way around. This is the real false argument — it’s an appeal to authority, NOT an actual argument validated by the scientific method.
5. The rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer, proving capitalism is evil
Anyone saying this doesn’t actually understand economics. I’m serious.
Liberals have this consistent weakness of taking a snapshot in time and making it the ultimate definition that serves as their basis of arguments. They use this tactic in all sorts of dynamic, ever-changing systems, like economics, the environment, societal conditions, racial interactions, and many others. Of course, when those dynamic systems inevitably express dynamism and conditions change, the Left is great at moving the goal posts and redefining what injustice means. We solved many of the problems faced by African-Americans in the 20th century. Invent institutional racism and redefine what it means to be bigoted! Predictions around man-made global warming weren’t even close to accurate? Call it climate change! You can see the game they play a mile away.
The gap between rich and poor is a feature of capitalism, not a bug. Capitalism is the ultimate dynamic system — the polar opposite of a command economy. People are constantly making financial decisions, working to increase their pay, and moving up and down the economic spectrum. People in the bottom 20% of income in America live better than the wealthy in most countries across the globe, and within five years, most of those folks are no longer in the bottom 20%. That’s how the free market works.
Check out the video above for more details.
6. Health care is a human right
The argument has been going on since the early 20th century: “If we can afford to go to war around the globe, we can afford to provide health care to all Americans. Health care is a human right. Nobody should be denied care.”
Admittedly, these are powerful arguments that are difficult to overcome. The emotions involved can sway us away from the logic of the situation. The mistake made by those advancing this argument is a fundamental misunderstanding of what the United States Constitution and the Declaration of Independence are all about. They clearly spell out, for the first time in human history, that human rights are innate. Rights are not, and cannot, be granted by the state. The foundation of America is a direct result of the state — in our case, England — taking away the right to assembly, the right to free speech, the right to practice our religion freely, and other usurpations.
Any American is free to pursue whatever health care strategy they choose. The problem comes when the federal government mandates that we buy a product, thus paying into a system so that others can be subsidized. This is not the state providing a right, this is mere theft. In any event, the free market works much better than any interference by government, just like with any other product bought freely on the market.
7. If we took the time to understand the demands of terrorists, we could stop them
Leftists often take a sympathetic approach to terrorists, believing that the evils of the West and the economic exploitation of free markets are what spur radicalization. Noted geopolitics expert Bill Nye has said as much: “It’s very reasonable that the recent trouble in Paris is a result of climate change.” Leftists will twist themselves into endless knots to blame Western culture for the terrorism they believe we’ve brought on ourselves. They blame unemployment, capitalist economic exploitation, globalization, and marginalization where a political solution is not available.
Just one problem: That’s all poppycock. There are plenty of examples of terrorists having been fully integrated into Western culture, some with affluent positions such as doctor or Army psychologist, only to re-radicalize later. There is no correlation, despite what the Left wants us to believe, that it has to do with anything but their own interpretation of Islam. To say otherwise is to try to apply political correctness to a situation that patently disproves any truth to the PC orthodoxy.
8. Planned Parenthood and PBS need public funding
Leftists often defend the funding of these programs with a mixture of straw man arguments and misdirections. When asked if the federal government should fund these programs, they’ll say they are vital to the American cultural experience, while cutting them would not balance the budget or fix our national debt. They often throw out the notion that if these federal programs were eliminated, people in rural areas would suffer without media options, without access to women’s health care, and without art.
Now, the idea that a small spending cut is not progress because it’s small, is, of course, absurd on its face. The federal government is way too big and involved in way too many aspects of our lives. We should seek out every opportunity to shrink the leviathan. On the other hand, Planned Parenthood’s budget has already been enhanced by several hundred million in private donations on the mere rumor of its federal funding being cut. If taxpayers — a large proportion of whom vehemently oppose the Planned Parenthood mission — are no longer on the hook for their funding, Planned Parenthood will survive just fine on fundraising drives.
In the case of PBS, far from killing Big Bird, we’ve already seen a free market solution to this supposed problem. Big Bird is on HBO now. So the idea that we’d be killing educational programming is ridiculous. There are dozens of cable channels dedicated to children’s educational programming. The free market, once again, rides to the rescue.