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Elections

Ben Shapiro Is Wrong (Again)

Still don’t think that feelings trump “facts” in politics?


- August 16th, 2019
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On the eve of the 1980 presidential election, as the insurgent conservative candidate, Ronald Reagan, was delivering his closing argument to the nation, the actor and union leader-turned-politician did not offer some cold, ideological claim divorced from kitchen table realities for the voters. Instead, he appealed to the hearts of ordinary Americans who sensed something was amiss in the country and loved it enough to want to correct course. His question to voters was simply “Are you better off today than you were four years ago?” 

Reagan urged voters to assess whether they felt “that our security is as safe, that we’re as strong as we were four years ago?” 

In fact, much of Reagan’s successful presidential campaign in 1980 was predicated on appeals to the heart and patriotic sentiment. He had ideological supporters, to be sure. Every candidate does. But his success was tied more to his appeal to regular, non-ideological Americans than it was to a rigid adherence to stodgy dogmas. That wasn’t what the man was about.

Today, however, much of the humanity—the heart—that was responsible for Reagan’s highly successful presidential campaigns of 1980 and 1984 has been removed from conservatism. The Reagan Revolution was inherited by the pushy ideologues and failed politicians who convinced themselves that the abstract ideas they cherished were responsible for Reagan’s success. They didn’t process the central reason for Reagan’s appeal to voters: that they felt he cared about them, their lives, and things that made life in America good for them. 

Over the years, Reagan’s good cheer and passion have been replaced with the unsympathetic posturing of various “conservative” ideologues. Take, for example, Ben Shapiro. 

Whatever your view about politics, though, it is clear that human emotion cannot (and should not) be divorced from politics in the way that Ben Shapiro desires. This is a fact of human nature that doesn’t care about Shapiro’s wishes.

Shapiro’s snarky and “in your face” catchphrase, one he and his young minions repeat ad nauseam and to no persuasive effect among ordinary voters who are neither young nor snarky is  “facts don’t care about your feelings.” Yet, in the realm of real politics, which is explicitly about human beings acting as a community to shape and change their future together, feelings often displace facts. We’re humans, not cyborgs. 

If we are lucky, feelings travel alongside the facts in the arena of politics. 

Whatever your view about politics, though, it is clear that human emotion cannot (and should not) be divorced from politics in the way that Ben Shapiro desires. This is a fact of human nature that doesn’t care about Shapiro’s wishes.

Besides, in the age of the special interest donor, who can easily say what objective “facts” are? How many Koch Brothers-funded Cato and AEI studies have been crafted which purportedly “prove” that the American middle-class is not shrinking; that instead everyone is just getting richer? Or, that illegal immigration and “free” trade are star-spangled awesome policies that only racists would oppose? If these “facts” were irrefutable then they would have to account for other recent studies that prove most Americans have not earned a pay raise in years—or that nearly 13 million Americans are working more than one job

Ben Shapiro, the man-child most establishment Republicans yearn to see become the new, android-like, baby-face of the GOP, has an awesome answer to these woes that will surely bring more voters to the Republicans’ cause. He contends, “If you had to work more than one job to have a roof over your head or food on the table, you probably shouldn’t have taken the job that’s not paying you enough. That’d be a ‘you’ problem.” 

Shapiro sounds a lot like Jodi Foster’s character from the dystopian science-fiction film “Elysium,” in which the world’s elite (led by Foster’s character) live on a space station and keep everyone else on Earth in extreme poverty. She was the villain, by the way, and therefore not a good political role model.

Shapiro does not rely on facts any more than Rachel Maddow does. Instead, Shapiro is deeply ensconced in an ideology that is utterly unhelpful to the current age of American politics. His theories, which he dresses up as “facts,” are not relevant to most Americans and, if embraced by the mainstream GOP (as they have been to varying degrees over the years) these theories will lead to the continued marginalization of the Right in national politics. 

Still don’t think that feelings trump “facts” in politics? 

Just take a look at the 2016 presidential election. Every scion of conservative politics—Shapiro included—believed that year’s GOP candidates were the best fielded in more than a generation. Yet, these elite-endorsed and better-funded “true conservative” politicos were eviscerated by the emotive Donald J. Trump. And as this slaughter unfolded before our eyes, we were consistently told by Shapiro that Trump was the repudiation of all things conservative. And why? Because so many conservatives loved him? 

Each day, Trump proves Shapiro wrong. Trump has saved conservatism by infusing it with the same passion that Reagan previously brought to it. 

As F.H. Buckley outlines in The Republican Workers’ Party, Trump captured that all-important, though highly elusive middle-ground—so much so that he busted apart Hillary’s much-ballyhooed “blue wall” in 2016, likely permanently. Why? Because Trump addressed the problems posed to ordinary Americans (preserving Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid while reducing “free” trade and closing our porous borders to illegal immigration).

But Shapiro’s unthinking—and unfeeling—politics all lead to the same place: the complete undoing of the Trump revolution. Trump is the anti-Shapiro. Had he listened to the supposedly sage advice of Shapiro the Boy Wonder, Trump would have gone the way of Mitt Romney in 2012. During that time, President Obama easily painted both Mitt Romney and his running mate, Paul Ryan, as soulless individuals who would happily throw grandma off a cliff to save a few pennies. This is how the Left uses emotion against “conservative logic.” And it works. At least it did until Trump came to the fight using fire against fire. 

If the GOP is interested in winning national elections beyond Trump’s presidency, they’ll take several pages out of both Reagan and Trump’s books and discard Shapiro’s spitfire, angry, and uninspiring “conservatism.” Far too often, Republican orthodoxy allows the Left to paint the Right as nothing more than stodgy patricians out to enslave the working-class of this country.

Ben Shapiro’s recent inaccurate portrayal of Americans working more than one job is yet another example of the snobbish radicalism that has come to define “mainstream” conservatism. We must purge this noxious strain of elitism before it becomes the undoing of the Right.

Content created by the Center for American Greatness, Inc. is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a significant audience. For licensing opportunities for our original content, please contact [email protected].

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