Liberals Don’t Know What They are Talking About

DCTeaParty070409TryandShutMeUpLiberals claim we conservatives pick our issues based on opposition to Obama, not on principle.

They don’t know what they are talking about.

Take Slate writer Jamelle Bouie and his article, “Conservative tribalism: Mass transit. Common core. Light bulbs. Conservatives hate these things for no better reason than liberals like them.

Bouie’s thesis can be found in his title. What’s scant is evidence to back up the idea that we conservatives are engaged in, as he says, a “near-senseless… reaction… that’s consumed the whole of conservative politics.”

Opponents of Common Core, for example, are said to dislike it because Obama does. News to you? Certainly news to me, and I suspect news to the very many people who have peppered me with anti-Common Core emails, Facebook posts, Tweets and the like for years now. I assume Obama’s name has come up once in a while, but I can’t remember any specific instance.

Bouie’s evidence? He says his thesis is “easy” to prove: The Republican governor of Louisiana changed his opinion on Common Core, and the New York Times claims that this is so. That’s proof?

A look at the New York Times piece finds no evidence that Obama’s views are the main ones driving grassroots opposition to Common Core. The Times just says so. Worse for Bouie, late in its piece, the Times contradicts itself, printing that opposition to Common Core stems from two things: 1) opposition to a federal takeover of education (not, then, any presidential administration specifically), and 2) opposition from teachers unions, “who are trying to sever any connection between test results and teacher evaluation.” Teachers unions, of course, are very pro-Obama.

LeftRefusetoAdmitLightBulbBanIndustryWBased on the materials I see from the grassroots, it is the content of the Common Core curriculum that animates most Common Core opponents.

Then Bouie reports on the light bulb standards. He knows less about that controversy than he does about Common Core:

Take light bulbs. In 2007, Congress approved—and President Bush signed—strict efficiency standards for incandescent light bulbs. The practical impact was to make 100-watt bulbs obsolete: an inconvenience, but not a huge imposition. In any case, the rule wouldn’t take effect for a few years, giving homes and businesses a chance to adjust.

Industry groups grumbled, but there wasn’t any outrage. That changed in 2011, after a Tea Party–fueled Republican Party took the House of Representatives in a landslide victory over the Democratic Party. This coincided with the implementation of the efficiency standards, and the result was a caterwaul of right-wing rage.

A few facts:

  • The de facto light bulb ban was part of a massive energy bill with many provisions that received far more media coverage than the light bulb ban. Most Americans who later opposed the ban had no idea the bulb ban was even in that legislation — that is why they expressed no opposition at the time.
  • The light bulb ban makes obsolete many more bulbs than the standard 100-watt incandescent.
  • Grassroots opposition to the light bulb standards is widespread and bipartisan. What Bouie describes as “a caterwaul of right-wing rage” against the ban includes 72 percent of all Americans, according to a January 2014 Rasmussen poll. That’s a lot of right-wingers!
  • gotfactsBouie assumes the Obama Administration has been fighting for the light bulb ban — otherwise there would be nothing on this issue for we nasty, Obama-obsessed right-wingers to be reacting against. But that’s wrong. The Obama Administration barely cares.
  • And finally, Bouie’s biggest whopper: “Industry groups grumbled…” Does Bouie understand anything about this issue? Industry groups pushed the ban in the first place. This is well known. The only time industry was known to grumble was when the House of Representatives later stripped funding for enforcement of the ban.

The underlying message of Bouie’s piece is that conservatives do not have values and principles that stand on their own; we simply develop our views in opposition to whatever the left believes. He and his fellow travelers (as Bouie is hardly the only liberal to be running with this thesis) do not understand conservatism at all. I suspect that’s intentional. Reporting what we really think would require liberals to rebut us — or agree with us. It typically can’t do the former, and it is unwilling to do the latter.

Perhaps Mr. Bouie and his ilk should spend more time in self-reflection.

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