Note to Republicans: Don't let the Left define you

I am absolutely sick to death of the Left telling the rest of us who we are and that we should be more like them.

COLORADO SPRINGS, Co., November 25, 2012 ― For the last several weeks we’ve been hearing from the usual leftist outlets explaining, with smug self-confidence, that Republicans lost the election because we weren’t enough like them. We are then treated to a litany of “what’s wrong with conservatives.”

Even some conservatives have chimed in. We are told who we are and how we need to change to become “better.”

As usual, you fall into a trap if you accept the premise. In this case, the premise is who conservatives (supposedly) are. This is an easy rhetorical trick: Define your enemy in a very negative way advantageous to you—then knock him down. It’s the straw man argument. It is easy to do and it works. People not paying close attention to the set-up fall for it every time.

Take the recent presidential election. The entire leftist establishment spent months and millions of dollars fitting Romney into the stereotype of a rich man who doesn’t care about ordinary people and can’t even understand them. It worked.

Think for a moment about the ridiculousness of that claim: If Romney is so rich and so out of touch, why bother to run for office? Why wouldn’t he just sit on the sidelines and enjoy his wealth? Better yet, why wouldn’t he sidle up to government and make sure that his interests were being taken care of? Certainly that’s a much more cost-effective approach. It is the approach that Jeff Imelt, Warren Buffet and George Soros use.

The straw man is a clever strategy and is sometimes difficult to unravel. It is certainly beyond the reach of those who don’t stop to think for a moment, those who walk around all day plugged into their music device, filling their heads with noise instead of actually thinking for themselves.

I am not rich but there’s a straw man for me, too. It’s another stereotype, really, brought to you by the people who say that stereotypes are bad. I am “the man,” the oppressor keeping other people down, the evil one the left loves to hate.

This despite that fact that neither I nor anyone in my family ever owned slaves, that my ancestors were the refuse of Europe who came to America seeking a better life and that they made that better life the old-fashioned way: not on the backs of others but through the labors of their own backs on farms and in mines.

Today the idea that hard work and perseverance brings success has been discarded in favor of the view that everybody working together in one big collective under the direction of all-knowing government elites is what gets you where you want to go. The old idea is that success in America is how you defined it; the new idea is success based on accumulating material goods—usually ones that the government will give you if you vote the right way.

Actually, that “new” idea is as old as the Pharaos of ancient Egypt.

My ancestors, and most likely yours, did not have a hand out for government largesse, but rather extended a hand to help a neighbor. This is how a community is built: from the bottom up, not from the top down. This is how America was built.

It used to be that people who overcame adversity and were successful were admired. Today, those same people who create the straw man stereotypes fuel resentment against success. Instead of encouraging people to work hard and be successful, they blame their own failures on those who are successful.

Here in America, our fates are in our own hands.

Failure here is not permanent. Thomas Edison said about making the light bulb, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” Eventually he got it right. Yet today, the left doesn’t celebrate the genius of the light bulb; the very company Edison founded tells us how bad for the environment the incandescent light bulb is and encourages us instead to buy light bulbs with mercury in them—as if that’s better. And more than encourages: GE lobbied the government to ban incandescent light bulbs in favor of their CFLs which GE just happens to manufacture … in China. Any ironies here?

This is what passes for “progress” in modern, progressive, forward-thinking America.

I am demonized for opposing it. Fair enough: I do.

I oppose these “forward-thinking” ideas because they’re not really forward thinking at all. There’s nothing new about hate and envy. Some of my ancestors came from Serbo-Croatia. I know about ethnic division and hatred and the poison that comes from dwelling on the feuds of the past.

When Joe Biden tells his audience that the opposition party is going to put them in chains, he is appealing to the old feuds of the past; he is reaching out in hate, not love. He seeks to divide, not unite. He appeals to envy and greed, not aspiration and hope.

Envy and greed can motivate us as human beings, but ultimately it is hope that sustains us. That hope does not come from government.

Hope comes from our belief in ourselves and in our Creator—Divine Providence as the Founders wrote in the Declaration of Independence. That hope does not disappoint.

That’s who I really am. That’s who most Americans really are. That’s what brought Americans to the streets in 2009 and sustains us even today as we look for a political party—or even individual politicians—to represent us. We have not yet found our voice but we are learning, rapidly.

Left, take notice. We will not give up, and we will never become like you.

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Al Maurer

Al Maurer is a political scientist and founder of The Voice of Liberty. He writes on topics of limited government and individual rights.

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