Letter #4: On the Left
A primary objective for good citizens in America, over the next 20 years, should be to educate young people about the Left (today embodied in the Progressive movement and the Democrat Party). When Americans understand it clearly, in the past they have strongly rejected it – pray that, as a country, we can do that again. Leftist ideology should be so thoroughly rejected that no politician dares to promote leftist ideals ever again. Journalists love to talk about “the third rail of politics” by which they mean the topic that destroys any politician that talks about it – a reference to the deadly third rail (high voltage) of a subway track. In the past it was claimed that Medicare was the third rail. May the new “the third rail of politics” become Leftist ideology!
I was a college student in the ‘60’s so I saw the birth of the radical student movement up-close. It was a period of violence, kind of surreal in retrospect. Once I walked on the Northwestern University campus beside dirt bunkers and army tanks, sent to control the unrest. The great Universities caved in and society seemed to just accept Leftist ideas of sexual freedom, rejection of traditional values, vulgarity, and dis-respect for authority. America lost her moral compass. We are suffering greatly because of that loss. And it may lead to our undoing if it is not dramatically rejected by society.
Many of our political leaders today are ideological descendants of those radicals and it must be said that today’s Democratic Party is dominated by secular Leftists. The 2012 Democratic National Convention provides ample evidence. Historically Leftism replaced traditional Liberalism (as represented by Joe Lieberman for example) following JFK and began to take over the DNC during Bill Clinton’s presidency (e.g. with MoveOn.org). Many Democrats are undoubtedly more Liberal than Leftist but most haven’t appreciated until now that the party no longer represents them.
Dennis Prager’s book Still the Best Hope, Why The World Needs American Values to Triumph provides an excellent, in-depth analysis of Leftist ideas and of the competing traditional American values. His description of the Left is perfect (summarized in my thoughts below).
No one self-identifies as a Leftist. Nevertheless Leftist thought has become the dominant ideology of our time. Leftist thought is reflected in websites such as www.dailykos.com and www.huffingtonpost.com and news organizations such as The New York Times, Time, CNN, MSNBC, etc. Leftism dominates our Universities, Hollywood, the Media and much of American culture. Leftists generally identify themselves as “progressive” or “mainstream.”
Leftism is a world view and a value system. A world view is simply a set of presuppositions or assumptions about reality that helps people understand the world. We see the world through our worldview, as we would look through a pair of sunglasses.
Leftism is also a religion. Prager considers it a religion because it requires belief, it proselytizes agressively, and for secularists, it fills the gap left by the rejection of God. It requires belief without supporting facts or logic. Progressives believe in socialism, for example, it in spite of overwhelming evidence in the USSR and elsewhere that Marxism doesn’t work. As with any “true believer” the facts don’t really matter – they hold on to their belief no matter what the facts teach us about reality. It is almost impossible to reason with a Leftist because they won’t agree on the facts (they have an alternate mythical reality) and they didn’t arrive at their beliefs because of facts. They lack the capacity for rational thought and debate. So what do they resort to? Anger, venemous ad-hominem attacks and pure emotion.
What are the common ideas of the Left?
· Change is always good – it gives people hope! (interpreted: only when Progressives are making the changes)
· Good intentions matter most (but only Leftists have good intentions)
· People are basically good. Crime and poverty are caused by lack of equality (Marxism) or lack of education.
· It is morally right (and a government obligation) to take from the rich and give to the poor (socialism)
· The State is the vehicle to Utopia
· The State replaces individual responsibility
· Government can run the economy better than the marketplace
· Tax more, Regulate more, Spend more, More Welfare!
· It is secular and anti-religious; religion should have no role in public policy, public schools, or government affairs
· Humans are nothing more than animals, Men and women are the same
· Wisdom comes from youth (not ancient sources of Wisdom such as the Bible)
· New ideas are always better than old ideas (they are progressive after all!)
· Real Evil does not exist – the spiritual Evil that we associate with Satan or Hitler does not exist.
· There are no moral absolutes – right and wrong are subjective
· We create our own Truth and our own Reality by creating credible Narratives and getting people to believe them.
Why do so many smart people believe in Leftism? As we have mentioned, Leftism, according to Prager, fills the void left by their abandonment of Christianity. There is a powerful urge to belong, to be associated with the “smart people” or the “cool” people, the cultural elites and celebrities. George Orwell said that “Some ideas are so stupid that only an intellectual could believe them.” Intellectuals aren’t known for common sense, and Leftism doesn’t lead people to ask critical questions or to ask themselves if an idea is true. It is a social community in which people congratulate each other for being so smart and advanced. Anyone who dares to leave the community is subject to ridicule, rejection, and perhaps (in Academia for example) loss of job or reputation.
Leftist ideas reflect wishful thinking. Oftentimes they reject facts because they are sad or uncomfortable. Prager notes that conservatives may do this as well. Dennis wrote an editorial in a Jewish journal making the point that man is not basically good (it is not rational, not Jewish and human history demonstrates that it is not a true). He was blasted. One critic wrote “What a sad world it would be if we all believed as Dennis Prager than mankind is inherently evil.” He responded “A distinguishing characteristic of liberals and leftists is their aversion to acknowledging sad facts.” Belief in Christ enables us to acknowledge and deal with the sad facts of reality in a world that was created good but now is suffering from the consequences of sin.
Some evangelical Christians buy in to many of these ideas. Prager observes that for the religious person, typically, Leftist ideas crowd out and eventually replace their original religious beliefs. I have observed the same phenomenon with some of my friends. It seems to me that their desire to be affiliated with and identified with certain people or causes overwhelms them; they lose the ability to think clearly and Biblically. Their minds become clouded. They go with the flow, adopting worldly ideas without serious and objective (as much as we can be) Biblical analysis.
As a follower of Christ, I ask you to think Biblically, to do your homework and know why you hold the ideals and values that you believe in (what is the Biblical support) and to be both strategic and courageous in standing for those values. Lovingly speak the truth. Lovingly help others to see the truth clearly. Follow Christ, not celebrities or ideologies.
Prager says that human experience is the strongest argument against Leftism. Many young people are converted to Leftist ideas in college but become Conservative after they join the workforce, marry and start a family. Experience in the Real World is a great teacher. Facts are stubborn things.
Prager wrote “If I lived in Europe two hundred years ago, I would have been tempted by the argument that reason alone, without God, religion, and sacred texts, can lead us to goodness. But after the depredations of the French Revolution; the horrors of two secular doctrines, Nazism and Communism; the low moral state of American and European universities; and the moral cowardice and appeasement of evil in contemporary secular Europe, one has to be – ironically – a true believer to believe that reason alone will lead us to a more moral world. Of course, we need reason. But we also need God and moral religion.” [Still the Best Hope, page 48]
We love to claim that “truth will win out” however history shows that it does not always win out. Propaganda, not truth, paved the way for Hitler, Stalin, Mao and a long list of tyrants and dictators. To win the day, the people of America must embrace and speak the truth and soundly reject Leftist propaganda and ideas.