From college campuses to newsrooms to family dinner tables, partisan rhetoric is taking over America. But only half of those feeding this ideological fire will admit to their part. Liberals repetitively call themselves pragmatists or realists seeking to do what’s best for their nation. But, according to Jonah Goldberg in an event at AEI on Wednesday, this claim is nonsense. "Pragmatism" is simply code for "do what we want you to do."
Drawing from his newest book, "The Tyranny of Clichés: How Liberals Cheat in the War of Ideas," Goldberg argues that liberals are indeed ideological, and this isn't a bad thing. Both liberals and conservatives hold dogmatic beliefs and partisan positions. Danger arises, however, when liberals consider themselves as being removed from the ideological fray—then, they no longer feel the need to seriously examine their beliefs or to rise up and defend them. When liberals rely on clichéd arguments and meaningless talking points to prove their positions, he alleged, the opportunity for debate is stifled.
Goldberg examined many of these clichés, including "violence never solves anything" and "it's better for 10 guilty men to go free than for one innocent man to suffer." According to Goldberg, each statement has a principle behind it and provides a worthwhile starting point for discussion, but neither statement is sufficient to stand on its own. Unfortunately, in today's policy debates, clichés are bandied about as absolutes. Only when liberals admit to their personal biases and ideological leanings can true discussion begin about the best solutions for America’s problems.
-- Lori Sanders
As political name-calling and partisan rhetoric overtakes Washington, D.C., and the media, Jonah Goldberg casts a skeptical eye on the arguments used by today’s journalists, academics and “moderate” politicians. In his newest book, “The Tyranny of Clichés,” Goldberg scrutinizes the oft-repeated claim that liberals are non-ideologues by dismantling the myriad nonintellectual talking points the Left employs in debates.
With wit and passion, Goldberg deconstructs concepts such as “one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter,” “violence never solves anything” and “diversity is strength.” He warns of the perils of this academic laziness — much that is done under the progressive umbrella comes under the guise of nonpartisan, solution-oriented policy even though it’s based on these dogmatic stances. Goldberg argues that progressives need to recognize their ideas for what they are — ideological positions — so that real dialogue can begin. Only a dialogue based on truth and fact, not straw men, will create the best policies.