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HORIST: Why the left cannot engage in civil discourse

HORIST: Why the left cannot engage in civil discourse

Over many years, I have noticed that the common folks on the left – those who generally vote for Democrats — do not like to discuss politics.  They avoid civil discourse on matters of public policy like they would avoid vacationing at a leper colony.  This avoidance of political exchange has been with us for a while – although it has recently reached the point of civil disruption.  It is a partisan and ideological cold war that divides states, friends and families – and thanks to the left’s imposition of identity politics, it is also becoming an ethnic, gender, religious and life-style divide.

Conservatives, on the other hand, seem eager to debate the great issues of the day – and even the little ones.  We are not timid or afraid to express our opinions and beliefs.  We see such discussions as a healthy means of mutual education. It is an essential ingredient in the democratic cauldron.

Progressives, on the other hand, have two means to avoid such dialogue. They either pre-empt such conversation by declaring it off limits as a precondition or they blow up in rage and walk off – often in a litany of insults. Closer friends may engage in a middle ground – blow up and then demand never to talk about politics again.  Progressives avoid losing arguments by refuse to engage in them.

On more than one occasion, I have had people say that they did not wish to discuss politics because I knew more than they did.  Hmmmm.  I thought we learn by engaging with people who know more than we do.  That is why we have teachers – and I certainly do not want to engage with a doctor who knows less about medicine than I do.  I prefer to dialogue with progressives who might know more than me.  It can be a learning experience.

By the way, when I refer to dialogue, I am not talking about the exchange of crude insults that characterize too much of social media exchanges.  Those are not discussions, but merely the tossing of verbal hand-grenades over the partisan wall.

I have encountered the left’s vow of silence more often than I can count.  It seems to be because they cannot defend their core philosophy of big government, confiscatory taxation and authoritarian leanings against the arguments of the personal freedoms of a bottom-up small-r republican society.

So, why is there a difference in the willingness to intelligently and honestly discuss political issues?  I shall offer my opinion, which will likely not sit well with progressives – but then again, they are not likely to want to discuss or defend themselves as much as explode into a factless outrage.

It all comes down to that political continuum that runs from the right (limited government based on popular choice and maximum personal freedom) to a powerful central authoritarian government (based on the rule by a superior governing class).  It is the classic battle between egalitarianism (conservative) and elitism (progressive).

It is often said that we should not discuss either religion or politics.  That may reveal an important comparison.  The progressive philosophy tends to require leaps-of-faith – things that one believes but may not be true or supported by factual analysis.

I am not referring to the superficial lies and disinformation that not only dominates political commentary, but on the fundamental principles and truths.  For example:

  1. Progressives BELIEVE that a minimum wage is beneficial, when, in fact, it can be empirically established that it has virtually no positive benefit to the economy, job creation or even long-term benefit to that small percentage of individuals who may receive a raise.


  1. Progressives BELIEVE that a good source of government funding is the taxation of businesses –corporations. In fact, every tax on a business is passed through you the consumer.  We the people pay those taxes—and it is a regressive tax because it hits hardest on the poor.


  1. Progressives BELIEVE that self-identification trumps biology when it comes to determining what and who we are.


  1. Progressives BELIEVE that America is a racist nation when all the facts show that we are among the least racist nations on earth.


  1. Progressives BELIEVE that we the people are not sufficiently informed and sufficiently moral to make the decisions over broad issues of national policy. Ergo, we need THEM to rule over us.


  1. Progressives BELIEVE that open borders is a humanitarian concept – even though history shows that nations that lose control of their borders decline and even ceases to exist.


  1. Progressives BELIEVE that Social Security and Medicare have been hugely successful programs when the facts show that Social Security has been a failed program with a negative return on the investment. Medicare is terrible health insurance compared to virtually every private-sector policy.


  1. Progressives BELIEVE that the fetus in the womb is not a human being – but just some needless part of a woman’s body. Whether society chooses to protect the unborn or not, the fetus is, by all definitions, a human being and is NOT an integral part of a woman’s body.

I could go on and on, but hopefully, the point is made.  All these points could be fairly debated, but progressives want us to believe in them without critical review – and most certainly without challenge.

To a large extent, progressives base their underlying philosophy on future beliefs.  Medicare-For-All will bring high quality healthcare to every American – so they say.  Based on the established history of government-run programs, it is more likely to bring a lower standard of healthcare at an enormous financial burden for all taxpayers.  Medicare may be said to be “better than nothing” – but not better than virtually every other alternative.  The subject is minimally worthy of serious debate.

The inability to prevail in a two-sided debate is the reason that progressives take up the authoritarian role of imposed beliefs and supplicant obedience.  That is why we have an assault on the First Amendment’s promise of free speech.   That is why the left seeks to criminalize those who do not agree on the causes and solutions to climate change.  That is why the left-leaning news media does not offer up legitimate alternative viewpoints in a fair and balanced manner.  To the left, an alternative opinion is pseudo-religious heresy.

People avoid debating religion because it is not possible to prove the existence of a god or an afterlife.  It is a leap-of-faith.  That is why we have had so many descriptions of gods and afterlives throughout history.  Religion is different than earthly political philosophy because we also cannot prove that there is not a god and an afterlife.  In politics, there are facts that can refute blind beliefs.

Since left-wing philosophy is based on belief, it can only be sold by creating false beliefs.  The elite progressives who form an establishment create such false facts as rampant racism, sexism, homophobia, xenophobia and misogyny – traits that are NOT characteristic of the vast majority of Americans.  These accusations are not defensible when looking at the public record.  Ergo, they are not to be even debated – much less refuted – in the progressive mindset.  Taking an objective look at this political propaganda threatens it – and those who proffer it.

At the foundation, progressivism is based on a belief that society is best organized by a strong central authority (government) to manage the affairs of the less enlightened and capable masses.  Conservatism is based on a belief that mankind is best served when the public – we the people – control the matters of state – that our public officials our servants rather than regulators.  Fortunately, we have ample evidence … proof … that top-down governance produces the most tragic human results.  Progressives cannot point to real examples in which too much personal freedom has been a problem.

In our political philosophy, we have one side founded on that leap-of-faith and the other side actually having evidence to refute many of those leaps.  Now I ask you, if you only had your gut-level belief against a volume of empirical evidence, would you want to engage in a substantive conversation, dialogue or debate?  Probably not.

That is why political power and authoritarianism is so critical to progressive thinking.  Raw power protects ignorance and disinformation — and is, therefore, the primary vehicle of those on the left who seek to gain or maintain their elite positions in society.

I would love to have a debate about this commentary, but I am not sure where I would find a true progressive willing to debate.

So, there ‘tis.

About The Author

Larry Horist

So,there‘tis… The opinions, perspectives and analyses of Larry Horist Larry Horist is a businessman, conservative writer and political strategist with an extensive background in economics and public policy. Clients of his consulting firm have included such conservative icons as Steve Forbes and Milton Friedman. He has served as a consultant to the Nixon White House and travelled the country as a spokesman for President Reagan’s economic reforms. He has testified as an expert witness before numerous legislative bodies, including the U. S. Congress. Horist has lectured and taught courses at numerous colleges and universities, including Harvard, Northwestern, DePaul universities, Hope College and his alma mater, Knox College. He has been a guest on hundreds of public affairs talk shows, and hosted his own program, “Chicago In Sight,” on WIND radio. Horist was a one-time candidate for mayor of Chicago and served as Executive Director of the City Club of Chicago, where he led a successful two-year campaign to save the historic Chicago Theatre from the wrecking ball. An award-winning debater, his insightful and sometimes controversial commentaries appear frequently on the editorial pages of newspapers across the nation. He is praised by readers for his style, substance and sense of humor. According to one reader, Horist is the “new Charles Krauthammer.” He is actively semi-retired in Boca Raton, Florida where he devotes his time to writing. So, there ‘tis is Horist’s signature sign off.


  1. Duane Hayes

    How true, they blow up and fly into a rage when confronted with truth and logic.

  2. James Andrews

    So much truth here….

  3. Red Rover

    Hmmm. I dare say I haven’t tried to engage those that I know are liberal minded … and the reason is that even as I consider how to pull the thread of their fabric I realize how quickly something politically correct would stop the conversation. How do you get through that yarn?

  4. David Barron

    In simple terms the extreme let are a bunch of cry babies and use bully tactics to get there way, never give up and keep pecking away at what is right and just if they don’t get there way. Kind of reminds me of the kindergarden classes in some schools where the kids end up in packs…maybe early training, and blame everyone else for their own problems.

  5. Carl S Zimmerman

    I like Larry’s essays (even when I don’t entirely agree with them), but I wish he would proofread them before publishing. A spell-checker doesn’t catch correctly-spelled wrong words, or errors of grammar.

  6. Hambone

    It seems to me that if you engage a liberal with thoughtful dialogue, you just end up with soda in your face. Also if you want to see a liberal utopian movie, watch What Happened To Monday. Total government control in that one, not to mention this is a movie loosely based if Hillary, or any Democrat for that matter, became president. I’m pretty certain the main character was portraying Hillary though.

  7. Joe S Bruder

    I’m only going to answer your final comment, the whine about finding a “true progressive willing to debate” (ignoring your cutesie tag line, “So, there ‘tis”, which you use because you don’t know how to write a real summary of your ramblings.)

    First of all, you write such a scatterbrained column that I would have to dig up content on about 30 different topics. Some comments are made in passing, some you seem to intend, none are presented in an organized manner. Secondly, you make pronouncement about what a “true progressive” is and how they think, and it bears no relation to reality. Third, you make broad and unproveable assertions, using phrases like “history shows” (it doesn’t), “it can be empirically established” (it can’t), “by all definitions” (yeah, the one definition you cherry-picked from the Republican dictionary that ALMOST applies)…

    If I were to try to refute your column, I would be spending several days checking your facts, then checking the facts of my replies, and basically writing a paragraph or two for every sentence of your diatribe. And then answer all the idiots that follow up with insults, because they can’t discuss the facts.

    In the end, it just isn’t worth it. You have a readership of, I’m guessing, a few dozen, and I’m not going to invest many hours of my time just to have you (and old Joe) just say “you’re wrong and we’re right, nyah nyah, you dirty liberal progressive”.

    THAT is why nobody tries to debate you.