Hating Conservatives


Howard Dean talking to a conservative kitty-cat.

From the National Review:

….the Left thinks the Right is evil. Granting the exceptions that all generalizations allow for, conservatives believe that those on the left are wrong, while those on the left believe that those on the right are bad. Examples are innumerable. Howard Dean, the former head of the Democratic party, said, “In contradistinction to the Republicans, Democrats don’t believe kids ought to go to bed hungry at night.” Rep. Alan Grayson (D., Fla.), among many similar comments, said, “I want to say a few words about what it means to be a Democrat. It’s very simple: We have a conscience.”

The point is not that there is no hatred for the left to be found on the right – far from it.  But rather, leftist hatred of conservatives is accepted by the mainstream and acceptable from its most public spokespersons.  As the piece goes on to say,

Would mainstream conservative journalists e-mail one another wishes that they could be present while Harry Reid or Nancy Pelosi or Michael Moore died slowly and painfully of a heart attack?


Has any spokesman of the Republican party ever said anything analogous about Democrats’ not caring about the suffering of children or not having a conscience?

I’m open to the possibility of someone proving the thesis of this article wrong.  It’s a fair critique to say that the typical reader of the National Review is not going to be sensitive to outlandish statements against liberals by conservatives (including myself).

But I think the point stands, and it is an interesting one.  The amount of vitriol on the left seems to be reaching newer and newer heights.  This is odd from the set that claims to be more sensitive, tolerant, and open than its opponents.  But it’s also detrimental to our ongoing conversation as a democratic people.

Good government demands that citizens be capable of decent, maybe even virtuous, political discourse.  The less we practice this basic part of civic life, the worse our situation will become.  And while the right certainly has its folks who are harmful to this end – here’s looking at you, Glenn Beck – on the left, the most vile kinds of political hate-mongering seem to be increasingly acceptable from the leaders of America’s left.

To paraphrase Jean Bethke Elshtain – when addressing a different kind of hate – “One cannot effectively critique what one loathes.”

4 thoughts on “Hating Conservatives”

  1. [The point is not that there is no hatred for the left to be found on the right]

    Ha! Just look at the teabaggers! Right-winger hate liberals so much, they make up stuff to hate them for.

  2. I don’t read enough partisan comments to have a position on the thesis, but I think I understand a factor that might contribute to the differing perspectives: those on the right can often see the good intentions of those on the left, yet disagree that leftist policies will have the intended effect, whereas many on the left interpret conservatism as greed over altruism.

  3. Ben, I’m not sure that the use of the term “teabaggers” does much to counter the accusation that the Left has its fair share of hate.

    Stephen, I think you’re on the right track. I found it interesting near the end of my tenure at Duke that, despite all the rhetoric about “Constantinianism” and the idolatry of the state, people still assumed that as a Christian I had to be either apathetic or a staunch liberal.

    I’ve often thought that conservatives can critique the Left more effectively and accurately than the Left can critique conservatives – because conservatives have the leftist agenda constantly pushed on them. In college, for instance, and in seminary, I was forced to know the Leftist argument so i could critique it. Often times I’ve found that liberals are unable to articulate any kind of defense because, quite frankly, they’ve encountered so little resistance. This I am happy to supply.

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