Friday, March 30, 2012

Of Two Minds

The other night my son Political Sphere was commenting on the oral arguments on Obamacare from that day, and he made an amusing observation, about why he feels sympathy for Solicitor General Donald Verilli, who was tasked with defending the so-called Affordable Care Act:

I have to say, though, I feel for General Verrilli. He has been put in a terrible position. On day one he had to argue that Obamacare was not a tax. On day two, he had to argue that Obamacare was a tax and furthermore that the individual mandate was necessary (or inseparable, non-severable) from the rest of the act. Then, on day three, he was require tos ay that the individual mandate was severable in case it was determined unconstitutional. Meanwhile his opponent showed confidence in his argument and was allowed by his employer to keep a consistent argument throughout all sections of questioning.
It is possible (although I don’t see how) that Verrilli wasn’t bothered by his conflicting tasks. Truth, to some, is relative and malleable. But the flexibility of his “truth” seemed to strike even the liberals on the court as contradictory.
Ben Shapiro, waiting to speak
at King Street Patriots
This difference of how liberal minds work reminded me of something I wanted to share from Monday night’s interview with Ben Shapiro. Again, as I mentioned Wednesday, he was on a book tour, for his new book Prime Time Propaganda, which he did indeed talk about. But this is yet another tangent (these are from my notes, so a paraphrase of Shapiro, not a direct quote):
There is a fundamental distinction between how conservatives and liberals view rights. Conservatives believe rights descend from God, not the state. Liberals believe rights come from the state, so the bigger the state, the more “rights” it gives.
I have known this difference for a long time. But something about how he said it made me feel like I was discovering it for the first time. Liberals have a completely different way of thinking. This means we have essentially no common ground except that we believe we should have rights—whatever they are.
There is something of an innate sense of the right to ownership, found even in toddlers. If something is yours and someone takes it without your consent, you feel righteous indignation—you have been wronged. Liberals can’t win on basic economic issues, because they lose. So they tend to push social issues. And they tend to persuade using emotional stories and images rather than facts or reason. For example, a captioned photo I saw on Facebook yesterday showed a bald woman in a hospital on life support. The caption reads, “No matter how you say ‘Obamacare,’ ‘Let her die’ sounds worse…” [the ellipsis dots are part of the caption, for grammatical reasons unknown].
This is trying to say, if I’m translating correctly, that you either accept “Obamacare,” or the alternative is letting cancer patients die. That, of course, is a false choice, even slanderous. People against Obamacare are not heartless haters, but people who want a more practical way for that woman to pay for her care than having the federal government step in and take over all our health and personal life-and-death choices, which have very little connection to this woman for whom we all feel sympathy. Does my refusal to grant the federal government control of my personal health care choices and the money I spend on them mean I want unknown cancer patients to die? Of course not. But if you’re only listening to emotion, and you see the heart-wrenching image with nothing to counter it, you might believe so.
Oddly, I happened to read an opinion a week or so ago relating to former Vice-President Dick Cheney’s heart transplant. Some pundit was asking the question, was he too old to have been allowed to receive a transplant organ? (The story itself was mostly just informative; it's the title that I take issue with.) Was he worth wasting this scarce resource on at such an age? He’s 71. His first heart attack was some decades ago, at which point he stopped smoking, limited alcohol, exercised, and did the lifestyle changes that allow someone with heart disease to continue on with hope for a long and full life, which he has had so far. In addition, his wait time on the transplant list, 20 months, was some months longer than average. But the liberal media is questioning the wisdom of allowing his transplant; isn't that the job of a death panel--which comes with Obamacare?
My dad had a heart attack at age 69, never had another, but along the way had quintuple bypass surgery—without the help of Obamacare, but with health insurance. He lived to age 91. I would not have given up those last couple of decades with him by choice. He was there for the growing up years of my children. And he was able to live at home with my mother, and continued to be up and around, doing yard work and tasks around the house, up until very near the end. The odds are not in favor of someone his age living so fully for so long. So it is important that the decisions relating to his health were not in the hands of a distant bureaucrat, deciding how to dole out scare resources based not on knowing the person involved, but based on statistics and some cold calculation of  “what is best for society as a whole.”
It is not private health care choices that would ever deprive that cancer patient of the choice for life-saving care. It could only be a bureaucratic takeover that would do something so callous.
Shapiro suggested that, in order to win in the arena of ideas, when we’re dealing with so many who are emotionally persuadable, we need to make fundamental freedom the argument. Whose choice is it: mine or the government’s? On every issue. Point out where government interference always limits personal freedom.
Not everyone wants personal freedom, because it comes with personal responsibility. The liberal argument is, “You don’t deserve to be blamed for bad behavior,” and “I’m going to give you free stuff.” So there will be weak minds that will not see the truth. But among the masses subjected to liberal media images are also many who would choose freedom and its attendant prosperity if that was what they were being shown. Yes, there are two kinds of minds, but we still have a chance to win the ones not yet fully closed.

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