Does The Left Know How To Make An Argument Not Based On Racism? The Trouble With the Left's Critique of Trump

As I predicted in my letter to the Princeton University President last year, two decades of living in university monocultures and political echo chambers, combined with a one-track focus on social justice, seems to have left the political Left with no ability to engage in rational opposition politics.

The Golden Globe Awards were a magnificent example.  I presume that many of these actors are reasonably intelligent people.  And they are obviously upset and worried about Donald Trump's election to President.  But they can't express anything beyond their fear and loathing.  They can't articulate what specifically worries them, and when they do articulate something specific - e.g "this may be the last Golden Globes Awards" - it is silly and illogical.

Perhaps worse, these critiques of Trump are, IMO, focusing on all the wrong things and sucking the oxygen out of the room for more relevant criticism.  The Hollywood types all seemed terrified that they and their industry are going to somehow fall victims to government authoritarianism.  At some level I guess this makes sense -- when the Left was in power, they used their power to hammer industries they did not like (eg energy) and thus expect that the Right will do the same once they are in power.  But Trump is a New York social liberal who is a part of the entertainment industry.   While I confess that one of the problems with Trump is that he is wildly unpredictable, Hollywood is an unlikely target, at least until they just  went on TV and begged to be one.

An even better example of focusing on all the wrong problems is the confirmation hearings for Jeff Sessions.  If you read pretty much any of the media, you will be left with the impression that the main issue with Sessions is whether he is a racist, or at least whether he is sufficiently sensitive to race issues.  But this is a complete diversion of attention from Sessions' true issues.  I am not sure what is in his heart on race, but his track record on race seems to be pretty clean.  His problems are in other directions -- he is an aggressive drug warrior, a fan of asset forfeiture, and a proponent of Federal over local power.  As just one example of problems we may face with an AG Sessions, states that have legalized marijuana may find the Feds pursuing drug enforcement actions on Federal marijuana charges.

Why haven't we heard any of these concerns?  Because the freaking Left is no longer capable of making any public argument that is not based on race or gender.  Or more accurately, the folks on the Left who see every single issue as a race and gender issue are getting all the air time and taking it away from more important (in this case) issues.    The SJW's are going to scream race, race, race at the Sessions nomination, and since there does not seem to be any smoking gun there, they are going to fail.  And Sessions will be confirmed without any of his real illiberal issues coming out in the public discussion about him.

I have said this before about Left and Right and their different approaches to politics.  The Left is great at getting attention on an issue.  Think of BLM and their protests and disruption tactics -- they had everyone's attention.  But they went nowhere on policy.  I challenge you to list the 5 or 10 policy goals of BLM (they actually had a good set once, but abandoned them).  The Left is great at expressing anger and dismay and frustration and outrage, but terrible about thoughtfully taking steps to fix it.  The Right on the other hand is great at working (plodding, really) in the background on policy issues, often at the local level.  ALEC is a great example, building a body of model legislation, working in groups around the country to try to implement these models.  But they absolutely suck at generating emotion and excitement around key issues (except maybe for wars and in abortion protests).  The only example I can really think of is the Tea Party, and (despite how the media tried to portray it) the Tea Party was extraordinarily well-behaved and moderate when compared to protest movements on the Left.

Trump has an enormous number of problems in his policy goals, not the least of which is his wealth-destroying, job-destroying ideas on trade nationalism.   But all we get on trade are a few lone voices who have the patience to keep refuting the same bad arguments (thanks Don Boudreaux and Mark Perry) and instead we get a women's march to protest the Republican who, among the last season's Presidential candidates, has historically been the furthest to the Left on women's issues.    It is going to be a long four years, even longer if the Left can't figure out how to mount a reasonable opposition.

Postscript:  All of this is without even mentioning how the Left's over-the-top disruption tactics seem to just feed Trump's energy.  At some point, Hercules figured out that cutting heads off the hydra was only making things worse and switched tactics.  If only I could be so confident about the Left.

  • alanstorm

    "Does The Left Know How To Make An Argument Not Based On Racism?"

    Of course they do! Sexism, Islamophobia, homophobia...lots to choose from!

    The thing they seem absolutely incabable of is employing facts.

  • Scott Zorn

    Eventually Hercules realized cutting off heads wasn't making anything better...why are you the only person who "gets it"? We get what we deserve, I suppose.

  • Carl S

    "It is going to be a long four years..."

    Longer than the last eight years?

  • Ward Chartier

    Age-ism, Nazi-ism, fascism, and the -ism du jour are about the only arrows in the quiver of the SJWs. These are surrogates for thinking, especially critical thinking. Far easier to launch an over-used arrow than to propose a thought that is actually constructive.

  • mlhouse

    Not to change the subject, but one aspect of the criticism of Trump's trade policies is that they are somewhat inaccurate.

    While I consider myself a free trader, Trump has made me review how I view this issue. The main criticism Trump makes about trade, particularly trade treaties, is that the United States makes these "free trade" agreements but allows the other sides of the agreement to maintain significant trade protections.

    When we proclaim our support of free trade, where does this condition exist? The U.S. Import-Export Bank? Chinese and other countries high tariffs and currency manipulations ? Huge government subsidies of Air Bus?

    I respect Don Boudreaux and Mark Perry, but one of their consistent arguments is that if the Chinese are "dumping" steel or other products in the United States, why should we complain? My response is that I value the free market much more than free trade, although free trade is a definite component of any free market. And while "dumping" is an overused term, all of the trade manipulations done by China, the UNited States, Europe, and every other country represent ways that the free market is distorted. If the Chinese are dumping steel in the United States, that is good for US consumers, but that also means that resources are being used in the Chinese steel production that should go somewhere else. The steel should be produced somewhere else, maybe Germany or Taiwan or Chile.

    Speaking a bit for President-elect Donald Trump. the real question is what should we do to change these trade barriers. That is the real issue he is identifying. Trump's position is that other countries are unfair in trade. The real quesiton is what is the appropriate policy to counter these trade practices (including those of the United States).

  • irandom419

    I wonder what would happens if we dropped tariffs on dumped goods. Would the people in that country get sick of subsidizing an industry?

  • jdgalt

    Because unfortunately, having an attention span greater than one mainstream-TV sound bite is not a prerequisite for voting.

    The majority deserve the crap they vote for. The rest of us don't, but we get it anyway.

  • wreckinball

    Ideally we shouldn't need a "trade deal" between governments. Why? Private citizens should just be able to transact across borders without government intervention. Once you think you need some sort of government "deal" it ceases to be free trade.

  • Zachriel

    Let's see. On ObamaCare, the argument is that Republicans don't have a plan, and that repealing ObamaCare will mean millions losing their health insurance, and the destabilization of the insurance markets.

    Russian hacks and coordinated leaks of U.S. political parties constitute a threat to U.S. sovereignty.

    Trump may be beholden to his creditors, which may include Russian oligarchs, that he won't release his tax returns so that the American people can see where conflicts may arise, and he won't place his assets in a blind trust.

    Trump has the maturity of someone in junior high, seems to like anyone who toadies to him, and hates anyone who questions his awesomeness, lashing out at the latest insult. Are you not entertained?!

    As for race, consider that Trump rose to power through a conspiracy theory questioning the legitimacy of the first African American president, then kicked off his campaign by suggesting that Mexican immigrants were rapists and criminals, then proceeded to insult just about every minority group during the campaign.

  • Broccoli

    In practice, high schools and universities now actively discourage developing critical thinking in its students. A travesty especially in liberal arts focused curriculum as that is the exact opposite of what a liberal arts education is supposed to do.

    The logic is like this:
    1. On certain issues, there is only one correct opinion.
    2. Dignifying certain viewpoints with debate legitimizes clearly incorrect opinions.Thus, we don't debate them.
    3. To debate a person's viewpoint, that person must pass an ideological purity test related to point 1, even if the subject of the debate has nothing to do with the purity test. Hence, all of Thomas Jefferson's ideas have no merit because he owned and fornicated with black slaves.
    a. People who hold viewpoints that conform with point 1 do not need to pass the purity test on other viewpoints. So it is ok to lionize Woodrow Wilson or Margaret Sanger, even though they clearly had racist views and in Sanger's case even wanted to exterminate unworthy races.

    In practice this means that the "debate" is just an echo chamber of people presenting to the like-minded why their viewpoints are noble. The effect of this type of training looks a lot like the worst abuses of religion. Dissenting views are treated as heresy and ostracized. Any action against the heretic is condoned as the purity of the religion is paramount. If you are a member of correct clergy, then all hypocrisy will be ignored.

  • Addie

    Yes bad trade policy abroad creates distortions in the global market. But we only have control over US policy. And these distortions (in the case of subsidized Chinese exports) benefit Americans at the expense of the Chinese. While I'd prefer a market with no arbitrary distortions, I'm perfectly comfortable with the Chinese gifting Americans with cheap goods, until the Chinese finally decide to wizen up.

  • Roger

    Free trade sounds nice.
    But are the Unions willing to compete with Asia on wages, worker safety and environmental regulations? Tariffs and currency devaluations are there for a reason.

    If all the energy intensive industry moves to China and all the labour intensive to Bangladesh, what will the factory workers do for a living? They can't all get a job at Lockheed and Raytheon. (The largest USA export product is war!) When all the jobs have been outsourced, who will have the money to buy all that stuff. Without consumers, there is no more need for multi nationals and free trade.

  • jdgalt

    US labor law is overprotective (and European more so), especially of union workers. I'm tired of having them drain MY standard of living for theirs. Repeal that crap, and stop raising the minimum wage, and companies will no longer need to export jobs from the US. The way we're going now is exactly how most of the countries in Latin America became poor.

    And as NAFTA has demonstrated, it doesn't cause that much of a hit to our standard of living to bring that of poor countries way up. When NAFTA was adopted, Mexico's economy was about the size of the city of Los Angeles. Now it's two or three times that, but still smaller than some US states; but it has made a big difference to them. More of this needs to happen. Otherwise the poor will find a way to flood our country as they are now doing to Europe.

  • Methinks1776

    The left is busy worrying that Trump may be unpleasant to the brown people Obama spent eight years murdering with drones.

  • Methinks1776

    US labour law is crap. Agreed on that. However, some jobs will continue to move elsewhere and that's a good thing. Why? Because the jobs that move away are lower value and move only when domestic labour is capable of higher value output which results in higher income and higher standards of living. You don't want to arrest that movement.

  • jdgalt

    No, the jobs don't leave only then. Check out the true measure of US unemployment, the Labor Force Participation Rate. It's way down in the last 10 years, nearly all due to higher minimum wages and ObamaCare.

  • James Graham

    They can't control their anti-Trump crankism and thus will give us a 9 to 1 Supreme Court.

    That may take 50 years but they are incapable of self analysis.

  • Ike Evans

    I opposed Trump from almost day one of his campaign. I would have gladly voted for any one of his GOP rivals over Hillary Clinton. I predict Trump will be a disaster of a President.

    That said...

    Meryl Streep (and her Hollywood echo chamber) is proof that they just don't understand why Trump won. About a month before the election, Clinton openly mused why she wasn't ahead by 50 points in the polls - a question she asked, and never answered. Hollywood is caught up on card of Identity politics, and if they keep this up, Trump will win a second term in office.

  • Ike Evans

    That would be a 8 to 1 Supreme Court.

    I'm not so optimistic. You have to keep in mind that Trump lost the popular vote by a good margin. If we were to look forward to 2020 and know that Trump would lose by 2.8 million votes, your best bet would be to put money down on Trump's opponent. You can't put stock in winning elections by losing the popular vote.

    But who knows? The antics of the SJW-Left is a parasite that has started eating itself.

  • Ike Evans

    Yes. Obama is a liberal, and it is easy to criticize him because the intellectual brand of Conservatism has nothing to do with Obama. It is easy to separate the two.

    Trump is a pseudo-liberal who now owns the narrative for Conservatism.

    This is going to be a long four years.

  • Ike Evans

    On ObamaCare, the argument is that Republicans don't have a plan, and that a precipitous repeal will mean millions losing their health insurance...

    Republicans do have a plan. Several plans have been put forward both prior to and after Obamacare was passed. This is a bad argument. Also, Obamacare has since failed miserably - all while not a single Republican voted for it.

    Russian hacks and coordinated leaks of U.S. political parties constitute a threat to U.S. sovereignty.

    Agreed, though I have to ask if the recent report that the Russians have compromising information on Trump bothers you in the same way?

    Trump may be beholden to his creditors, which may include Russian oligarchs, that he won't release his tax returns so that the American people can see where conflicts may arise, and he won't place his assets in a blind trust.

    This is a good argument. I would love for the GOP Kool-Aid drinkers to demand Trump release his tax returns NOW. He should have never gotten the Party's nomination without doing this.

    Trump proceeded to insult just about every minority group during the campaign.

    You are sort of doing what the good Coyote is asking you to stop doing. I will openly agree that Trump is a immature buffoon, but there is scant evidence that he fits the definition of racism. Looking carefully at the various things Trump has said, we can surmise that he is often crass and stupid, but he isn't a racist. You sir need to find a smarter argument.

  • wreckinball

    Their antics may just increase margins in states they already won. I'm not even sure of that. They have to win back some states where identity politics is not so influential or actually detrimental.
    I mean calling everyone who votes for Trump an "ist" of some sort is highly unlikely to get a vote flip next time.

  • wreckinball

    "Russian hacks and coordinated leaks of U.S. political parties constitute a threat to U.S. sovereignty."

    Russia hacks? Of course. They prefer a certain candidate. So do we, like not Bibi. Very possible. But hacking Podesta and Hillary emails is not high espionage. It is literally 14 year old in the basement geek stuff.

    Now the irony is that the report contained zero evidence (classified of course) and made a big deal out of R/T being propaganda. Well no kidding and nobody pays attention to R/T. But the Wikileaks indicated collusion of the NYT, WaPo and CNN with the DNC and a lot more folks do watch them.

    So I'm not for readying the troops just yet based on just trusting Clapper (NSA is not spying on you, trust me) and Brennan (the video did it).

    Trump saying it could have been Russia and others is probably the only real truth that has been spoken on this.

  • wreckinball

    He'll get 2-3 IMO. Which would be very significant. And he might as well serve up his most conservative one first. I think some of the lib judges might try and hang on but you can't fight the reaper.
    And Ginsburg is getting even more insane than usual, dementia?

  • wreckinball

    Wages in China are no more our business than the stupid living wage argument here. Wages are between employer and employee.
    Which reinforces my idea that we don't need a "trade deal" to trade. Injecting a third party gov't deal into a transaction is the problem.

  • J Calvert

    For most of the SJW types, the goal is not to win any of the battles, they know they can't stop the Sessions nomination, but to Virtue Signal.

    For the SJW, it's all about themselves. I'M smarter than you. I'M more compassionate than you. I CARE more than you. They don't care who won, as long as they get to feel good about themselves.

  • wreckinball

    And now we have golden shower-ism. A report that is basically full of known crap but somehow the golden shower stuff could be true?
    Its the lefts version of birthers or truthers.
    Is Buzz Feed the new Sheriff Joe?

  • jdgalt

    Trump won the popular vote if you don't count California. And he'd have won there, too, if he'd bothered spending any money there.

    If National Popular Vote (.com) takes effect, he'll still be re-elected.

  • Ike Evans

    I doubt it. There's too much data that is going against his narrative. Don't get me wrong, I'm not a Democrat nor a liberal in the slightest. But NRO has produced some numbers that show that Trump's election is the weakest in American history.

    http://www.nationalreview.com/article/443687/barack-obama-real-reason-trump-won

    He essentially won for two reasons. First, Hillary was an extremely poor candidate, as opposed to someone like Obama or Reagan. Second, 2016 was simply a fluke.

    For Trump to win 2020, he would have to swing the numbers to his favor by a wide margin. This is generally very difficult to do for a sitting president.

  • Zachriel

    Ike Evans: Republicans do have a plan.

    The question wasn't whether the Republicans had a plan, which is arguable, but whether the "Left" had arguments other than calling racism.

    Ike Evans: there is scant evidence that he fits the definition of racism

    He just uses racially divisive rhetoric.

  • Zachriel

    wreckinball: They prefer a certain candidate.

    Sure. They made that clear through their propaganda channels.

    wreckinball: But hacking Podesta and Hillary emails is not high espionage.

    It is part of a coordinated Russian attack on U.S. institutions, being repeated in other countries, including eastern Europe, and a threat to U.S. sovereignty.

  • Zachriel

    jdgalt: Check out the true measure of US unemployment, the Labor Force Participation Rate.

    That is incorrect. While some of the drop in Labor Force Participation may be due to discouraged workers, at least some of the drop is structural, such as the aging population, and the longer period of education before entering the workforce.

  • Ike Evans

    I will agree: Trump's rhetoric is racially divisive. But racial division has been the primary tactic of the Left at least 2008 - i.e. identity politics.
    When it comes to Trump there is so much to attack him on. The Left involuntarily cries the wolf of racism (or sexism, or homophobia, etc.) because they lack the creativity to see the smarter arguments. I can't tell you how often I've been called a racist - despite the fact that I'm married to a American Indian, and half of my family is black.
    Can the Left make arguments without playing the race card? Sure. But not very often.

  • jdgalt

    "Structural" unemployment is nothing but a deceptive term meaning that it results from overregulation.

  • jdgalt

    Trump is not racially divisive. He just throws that rhetoric back in the faces of the paid race-baiter movement (Al Sharpton and Soros' BLM). The election result shows that that movement has already lost all credibility with the public, and I don't see them ever getting it back.

  • jdgalt

    Speaking of SJWs, Coyote, you might want to support this bill.

  • wreckinball

    So how does it compare to Obama actively opposing Brexit or Bibi
    This has gone off the deep end.
    The Russians did it!
    It's similar to the birthers

  • Zachriel

    wreckinball: Disagree that Podesta and Hillary email firewalls or any private email account equates to US sovereignty.

    Huh? The DNC is one of two major political parties in the U.S. The Russians hacked and then disclosed DNC emails in order to hurt the Democratic candidate. How is that not a threat to sovereignty?

    wreckinball: So how does it compare to Obama actively opposing Brexit or Bibi

    As far as is known, Obama didn't hack and then disclose confidential information from private emails in Britain or Israel.

  • The DNC foolishly had (has?) no defense against this type of intrusion.

    The object lesson from the DNC hacking is that the DNC is populated by naïve imbeciles, which has been confirmed over the past decade.

    None of the content was ever disputed, meaning it was real, and from what we saw, there was widespread illegal collusion among several groups, including the press.

    Ultimately, it did not matter that the information was “stolen” (though I would argue the DNC left themselves open to this outcome), but rather the content of the emails exposing a fantastically corrupt party and sycophantic, irresponsible media.

  • Addie

    Roger, why should you (or the unions, for that matter) get to make those decisions? Why can't the consumer?

  • Zachriel

    jdgalt: Trump is not racially divisive.

    Of course he's racially divisive. When he promotes a conspiracy theory that the first African American President was born in Kenya, that's racially divisive. When he implied that Mexican immigrants are rapists and criminals, that's racially divisive. And when he claims that Atlanta is "falling apart" without knowing anything about this diverse community, that's racially divisive.

    jdgalt: the public knows that race is no longer an issue.

    Sure.

  • Zachriel

    mesaeconoguy: The DNC foolishly had (has?) no defense against this type of intrusion.

    Of course they did. However, spear phishing isn't always caught by firewalls.

    mesaeconoguy: None of the content was ever disputed, meaning it was real, and from what we saw, there was widespread illegal collusion among several groups, including the press.

    There was nothing illegal uncovered. People have a right to privacy. When it concerns one of the two major political parties in the U.S., then it's a threat to the election process.

  • Of course they did

    No, they did not.

    You vastly overestimate the intelligence of your party, and yourself.

    There was nothing illegal uncovered.

    Incorrect. Multiple coordination efforts between the media and HRC campaign violated campaign laws.

    John Harwood from CNBC could and should be a target of an investigation, as should multiple others.

    When you conduct yourselves in the manner in which the DNC did, you have no rights. Expect to be destroyed.

  • Carl S

    This is only true if you have a vested interest in the "intellectual brand of Conservatism." Mr. Coyote is a self-identified libertarian and someone who disparages the major parties as Coke vs. Pepsi". So, I wouldn't think it applies to him. Pepsi has now been replaced by Coke. (Maybe Trump is New Coke)

  • Ike Evans

    I'm not a conservative, but I am sympathetic to the intellectual brand of conservatism. Most smarter conservatives tend to have a series of libertarian leanings, and although the GOP is far from perfect on their best day, I trust them much more than their Democratic counterparts.
    Trump is clearly a pseudo-liberal masquerading as some sort of savior to Conservatives, and unfortunately they bought it. The damage he will do to the ideology of limited government will be far greater than anything Obama could do on his worst day.

  • Zachriel

    mesaeconoguy: No, they did not.

    That's just silly. Even Clinton's private server had a firewall.

    mesaeconoguy: a deliberate attempt to thwart transparency laws and disclosure.

    A team of career FBI investigators who looked into the matter disagree.

    mesaeconoguy: When you conduct yourselves in the manner in which the DNC did, you have no rights. Expect to be destroyed.

    It's called due process.

  • TruthisaPeskyThing

    Zacheriel, maybe you are right. Maybe not all of the lefitsh arguments are based on racism. Some of them are based on ignorance and deception. The argument that Republicans do not have a plan would appeal only to extremely low information voters or those who want to participate in such deception.

  • TruthisaPeskyThing

    Pointing out that Clinton won the popular vote is like pointing out that the losing football team lost in the time of possession statistic. If the game was decided by time of possession, teams would play differently -- a different strategy, different tactics -- and different outcomes.

  • Even Clinton's private server had a firewall

    We don’t know that. From what little we know about Podesta’s emails, a 14-year old could have hacked him.

    A team of career FBI investigators who looked into the matter disagree.

    Incorrect. Many FBI investigators examined the case, but only 1 agent’s opinion mattered. Many FBI agents disagreed with Comey’s assessment, and course of inaction.

    It's called due process.

    Thanks to the actions of the Oblunder Admin, due process no longer applies. You do not have any expectation of that.

  • Zachriel

    mesaeconoguy: We don’t know that. From what little we know about Podesta’s emails, a 14-year old could have hacked him.

    Podesta used Gmail, which certainly includes threat protection.

    mesaeconoguy: Many FBI investigators examined the case, but only 1 agent’s opinion mattered.

    The investigators were unanimous.

    mesaeconoguy: Many FBI agents disagreed with Comey’s assessment, and course of inaction.

    None involved in the actual investigation.