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Political Editors / June 22, 2022

In Brief: Left vs. Right at Its Core

Why does it seem like the two sides have grown further apart? Fundamental worldview shifts on the Left.

What is the difference between the Left and the Right? Former leftist David Horowitz explains his own shift to the Right 40 years ago by way of getting to some of the fundamental reasons for our present divide. In a lengthy must-read essay, he lays out this truth:

My most profound and certainly most disturbing conclusion was that revolutionaries were by nature — and of necessity — criminals, who would routinely lie and break laws to achieve their ends. Every radical who believed in a “revolution” or a “re-imagining” of society from the ground up, every progressive who believed in a “fundamental transformation” of America as Barack Obama described his own agenda on the eve of his 2008 election, was a criminal waiting to strike.

America’s Constitution includes methods to amend it, and therefore to reform the American social order when and where changes are needed. In making such changes there are procedures to ensure that these changes represent the will of the American people, and are done lawfully. But revolutionaries do not respect a constitutional order created by rich, white men, many of whom were slaveowners. Radicals believe instead that “social justice” requires them to dismantle the social order, and “due process” along with it. Radicals are not “reformers.” In the name of social justice, they refuse to be bound by the laws and procedures that an unjust and oppressive “ruling class” has created. The end justifies the means.

Horowitz explained how Obama’s presidency more than any other before it enlightened him to “the rhetorical disparity” between the two ideological factions.

In fighting this cold war, progressives regularly demonize Republicans as racists, white supremacists, insurrectionists, Nazis and traitors. Republicans respond to these reckless attacks by calling Democrats “liberals” and similarly tepid descriptions. For example, they describe Democrats as “soft on crime.” Democrats are not soft on crime. They are pro-crime: Democrat prosecutors have systematically refused to prosecute violent criminals; Democrat mayors and governors have released tens of thousands of violent criminals from America’s prisons, and abolished cash bail so that criminals are back on the streets immediately after their crimes and arrests; Democrat mayors supported the mass violence orchestrated by Black Lives Matter in 220 cities in the summer of 2020, provided bail for arrested felons, de-funded police forces, and instructed law enforcement to stand down in Democrat-run cities, which allowed “protesters” to loot and burn, and criminal mobs to loot and destroy downtown shopping centers.

Democrats regard the criminal riots that took place in the summer of 2020, as social justice. The riots cost $2 billion in property damage, killed scores of people and eventually thousands as their “De-Fund the Police” campaign triggered a record crime wave in America’s major cities. Democrats regard criminal lawlessness and mayhem as understandable responses to what they perceive as “social injustice” — courts and the law be damned. To them, mass lootings are “reparations,” and individual robberies and thefts a socialist redistribution of wealth.

If you are in a battle of words — which is the nature of political warfare — and you are calling your enemies “liberals,” portraying them as not really understanding the gravity of what they are doing, while they are calling you “white supremacists” and “Nazis,” you are losing the war.

Why are Republicans so self-destructively polite? Why do they fail to see, or to identify their opponents as the criminals they are — or, at least, when they are?

Horowitz goes on to answer this question as stemming “from a fundamental disparity in outlooks, and more importantly in attitudes towards the future.”

The left’s obvious goal is a “fundamental transformation” of American society. Such a transformation, as I have already observed, requires a dismantling of the existing social order. To justify this destruction, the left creates narratives that provide it with ways to condemn and delegitimize the present and its defenders, and justify its criminal agendas. …

Conservatives approach politics from a diametrically opposed perspective. Unlike progressives, conservatives are not wedded to abstract ideologies that imagine a perfect future and use it to delegitimize an imperfect present. Conservatives seek to conserve the values of a remarkable Constitution, whose principles in actual practice have made America the world’s most prosperous, most tolerant and most free nation, and have inspired her to be a beacon of freedom throughout the world.

This is where conservatives, in their effort to conserve, end up with the weaker fighting stance:

One consequence of conservatives’ regard for the proven virtues of the U.S. Constitution and the social order it made possible is the very diffidence conservatives and Republicans exhibit in their political battles with progressives. A primary concern of the American founders was the threat of “factions” whose outlooks and agendas did not encompass the well-being of the whole society but merely their own divisive interests and claims. A main theme of America’s founding documents, therefore, is the importance of compromise. The founders regarded attacks on the spirit of compromise as threats to the social order itself. The demonization of opponents by the Democrat Party is therefore anathema — or should be — to anyone who believes in the wisdom of the constitutional order. In other words, conservatives’ instincts are to willfully tie their hands behind their backs in order to support the well-being of the civic whole.

In the portion we’ll excerpt, Horowitz concludes:

Conservatives and Republicans are reluctant to use terms like “criminal” and “racist” and “fascist” to describe Democrats whose policies are criminal, racist and fascist because to do so would threaten the constitutional principle of compromise, on which civil peace and civil freedoms depend. Well and good, but in the current crisis defenders of America need to find a way to develop a stronger rhetoric, along with a more realistic attitude towards the enemy they are facing, if America is to survive at all. As long as conservatives continue to respect and enforce “due process” — which the Democrats have abandoned — there is no danger that they will follow in the destructive path the Democrats have chosen.

Finally, he says, “Above all, conservative, patriotic Americans need to stop compromising the truth to appease their political enemies who want to destroy them and the country they love.”

Read the whole thing here.

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