“Every time we object to a thing being done by government, the socialists conclude that we object to its being done at all.”
– Frederic Bastiat
“There is an almost universal tendency, perhaps an inborn tendency, to suspect the good faith of a man who holds opinions that differ from our own opinions.”
“Poisoning the well” isn’t something unique to political progressives. Lately, though, it seems to have become standard practice among Those On The Left to assume that anyone disagreeing with their policy positions is acting out of bad faith. Consider, for example, President Obama’s recent remarks on the Affordable Care Act:
“[Republicans have] spent the last few years so obsessed with denying [people] access to health insurance that they just shut down the government and threatened default over it.”
According to this narrative, opponents of Progressivism don’t simply have different ideas about how to make the world a better place. Opponents of Progressivism are actually just mean, spiteful people who want to harm others. Because they’re mean. Here’s another shining example from the College Democrats of America:
In other words, if you don’t support the Democrat Party’s specific plan for organizing the American healthcare system, you don’t care about human life. Because you’re trying to take away people’s healthcare. Meanie. Yet another example from left-leaning news site Slate:
“When we talk of cutting food stamps or gutting education, we shouldn’t just call it greed. We should call it a sin.”
Translation: “If I think the government should set aside X% of the federal budget for education, and you only think it should set aside Y% of the budget for education, YOU’RE A SINNER.”
When someone has the audacity to oppose re-defining society’s definition of marriage, the progressive is unable to comprehend that his opponent could be motivated by anything other than ill will toward homosexuals. Hence, the labels “bigot” and “homophobe” are swiftly handed down to anyone who disagrees with the progressive’s viewpoint.
When someone questions why businesses should be forced to offer their employees free birth control pills (but not free allergy pills, or free pain pills), the progressive indignantly asks why that person is “anti-women”.
Such rhetorical tactics are deeply authoritarian. “Agree with me, or you’re a bad person.” “Stay silent, or I’ll drag your name through the mud.”
It seems especially ironic, then, that this approach has been embraced by self-described crusaders of “tolerance” and “diversity”.