The PJ Tatler

Top 5 Cliches Liberals Use to Avoid Debate

Jonah Goldberg, writing in the Washington Post, identifies 5 worn out bromides from liberals that allow them to escape arguments against their positions:

One of the great differences between conservatives and liberals is that conservatives will freely admit that they have an ideology. We’re kind of dorks that way, squabbling over old texts like Dungeons and Dragons geeks, wearing ties with pictures of Adam Smith and Edmund Burke on them.

But mainstream liberals from Franklin Roosevelt to Barack Obama — and the intellectuals and journalists who love them — often assert that they are simply dispassionate slaves to the facts; they are realists, pragmatists, empiricists. Liberals insist that they live right downtown in the “reality-based community,” and if only their Republican opponents weren’t so blinded by ideology and stupidity, then they could work with them.

This has been a theme of Obama’s presidency from the start. A couple of days before his inauguration,Obama proclaimed: “What is required is a new declaration of independence, not just in our nation, but in our own lives — from ideology and small thinking, prejudice and bigotry” (an odd pronouncement, given that “bigoted” America had just elected its first black president).

In his inaugural address, he explained that “the stale political arguments that have consumed us for so long no longer apply. The question we ask today is not whether our government is too big or too small, but whether it works.”

Whether the president who had to learn, in his own words, that there’s “no such thing” as shovel-ready projects — after blowing billions of stimulus dollars on them — is truly focused on “what works” is a subject for another day. But the phrase is a perfect example of the way liberals speak in code when they want to make an ideological argument without conceding that that is what they are doing. They hide ideological claims in rhetorical Trojan horses, hoping to conquer terrain unearned by real debate.


Goldberg is correct in that these five cliches used by liberals are designed not to engage an opponent in a dialogue, but rather to shut off debate:

1. “Diversity is strength.

2. “Violence never solved anything”

3. “The living Constitution”

4. “Social Darwinism”

5. “Better 10 guilty men go free…”

Various arguments that bring racism into the debate are designed to do exactly the same thing. However, referring to an opponent as a “racist” or his argument as “racist” is losing its pop due to overuse.

The same couldn’t be said for the others, I’m afraid. Every time we debate military action we will hear #2. Every time we get an issue like Obamacare before the court we will be exposed to #3. Every time the GOP wants to bring fiscal sanity to our finances by trying to get entitlements under control, we will hear liberals use #4.

And the reason they are allowed to get away with it — and the reason the ploy generally works — is because much of the media allows them to get away with it and ensures that it works. It may be that the internet and talk radio have given the right a voice it didn’t have before. But it is equally true that opposition voices are drowned out by the cacophony coming from the left and their allies in the media.


Whether that will ever change is a question that the ever evolving media landscape will eventually have to deal with.

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