Kirby lecture speaker examines at how politicians really win in the war of ideas

Christine Lee, News Editor

According to Jonah Goldberg, President Barack Obama is the most “liberally cliché” politician today.
“He comes from a very mainstream, progressive view that essentially thinks the government is a perfect stand-in for community itself,” the best-selling author, syndicated columnist and political commentator who will deliver this years Alan P. Kirby Lecture explained.
Goldberg said when one listens to Obama’s speeches, he routinely treats the concepts of government and community as if they are the same thing.
“He’ll say, as he did at a Ohio commencement speech not long ago, that the government is us, that government is just another word for those things that we do together,” Goldberg said. “When you think the government can take the place of community, take the place of family, you’re basically saying it can do anything and everything and it can’t do all of those things.”
In his book, “The Tyranny of Clichés: How Liberals Cheat in the War of Ideas,” which will form the basis of the lecture he will give on Oct. 3, Goldberg defines the term “liberal clichés” as concepts that seem clear but are deeply ideologically loaded, and have arguments stacked in favor of certain conclusions that people don’t want to openly make arguments for.
Goldberg said the idea of liberals “cheating” goes back to the idea in liberalism that only conservatives have an ideology. However, he argues that everyone has an ideology and there is nothing wrong with having one.
“All an ideology is a checklist of principles of conclusions or assumptions or rules of thumb that you’ve drawn from lived experience,” he said.
Goldberg said the problem with liberalism is that they believe they aren’t ideological, instead they are doing what is right.
“Part of the problem is when you have people who say things like, ‘why can’t we move beyond these partisan or these ideological fights and do what the American people want us to do’ what they’re really saying is ‘I want you to shut up and agree with me,'” he explained. “So much of liberal rhetoric and liberal argumentation from Barack Obama to Hilary Clinton on down is all of this technique.”
In order to win the battle in the war of ideas; Goldberg suggests Republicans need to get better at being persuasive.
“So much of what the Republican Party is these days is this quest for purity, and they yell at people what they believe, why don’t they try to persuade people to agree with them and I think the GOP has to get at that,” he said.
Goldberg suggests when it comes to overcoming the messages liberals present; people should not accept the premises of the other side’s argument.
“If you start from the assumption that the other side’s assumptions are right, it’s very difficult not to agree with their conclusions as well,” he explained.
How can liberals and conservatives get along to move things along in politics? Goldberg said it all comes down to federalism.
“Federalism is the best system ever conceived of for maximizing human happiness because it lets the most people live they way they want to live,” he said. “The problem is that we now live in a culture where everyone on the right and the left wants to control Washington because Washington controls so much of our lives.”
Goldberg will talk more about the idea of the tyranny of clichés in the lecture on Oct. 3 at 7:30p.m. at the Dorothy Dickson Darte Center.