Grab a pen and take this 10-question pop quiz. For each statement, circle the author: DB, or EW.
“DB” is Dave Brat, the Tea Party conservative who just out-conservatized Eric Cantor, the former House Majority Leader and conservative’s darling. Cantor lost his reelection bid to the staunch right-winger Brat, causing Tea Partyers to rejoice, while liberals cringe at the possibility of a new day for the GOP’s fringe element.
“EW” is Elizabeth Warren, a U.S. Senator from the bluest of blue states, Massachusetts, a Harvard Law professor, and a consumer protection champion that would make Ralph Nader proud.
A quintessential liberal whom many on the left would like to see gain the Democratic nomination, because compared to Warren, Hillary Clinton is a conservative corporatist.
Ok, here are the 10 statements. Remember, circle “DB” if you think the statement is Brat’s, or “EW” if you think it is Warren’s.
“We need a smart and tough foreign policy that uses every tool available. We owe nothing less to our citizens and to those we would put in harm’s way to protect us.”
“All individuals are entitled to equal rights, justice, and opportunities.”
“A nuclear Iran would be a threat to the United States, our allies, the region, and the world.”
“I am against bills that benefit big business over small business.”
5. “It is a moral imperative to support and defend Israel. Israel must be able to defend itself from the serious threats it faces from terrorist organizations to hostile states, including Iran, Hamas, Hezbollah, and others.”
6. “I support a broad energy spectrum that includes natural gas, wind, and solar.”
7. “We must protect our borders and enforce our laws against recruiting and hiring undocumented workers.”
8. “I am against laws that allow insider trading by traders’ family members.”
9. “The threat of terrorism remains, and we must remain vigilant.”
10. “Special interests have corrupted our democratic system.”
Now, take a look at your answers. Is there a pattern to them? Do the odd-numbered questions (1, 3, 5, 7, and 9) seem more likely to be red-meat conservative soundbites, thus more likely to have come from Brat? Whereas the even-numbered ones (2,4,6,8, and 10) probably sound like the sensitive, inclusive language befitting a liberal like Warren?
Well, if you think that, you’d be right about a pattern, except it’s the exact opposite. The “patriotic, hard-nosed, tough-love conservative” comments are Warren’s, and the “mushy, compassionate, evolved liberal” ones are Brat’s.
And these comments are straight from the candidates’ official websites, as much “their own words” as you can get, other than transcribing broadcasts of their speeches, of course.
So, lest anyone panic that Brat is another “Tea Party lunatic” who wants to bring America back to the Middle Ages, or that Warren is a “radical Marxist” who makes Barack Obama seem like a centrist by comparison, consider that more often than not, the perpetuators of false political stereotypes are their opposing candidates and their campaign staffs, who will stop at nothing to embellish – i.e., shamelessly lie.
You know, the ones that would have you think that largest modern-day increase of crime-fighting forces on our streets happened under a law-and-order Republican President.
It didn’t – it happened under Democrat Bill Clinton. Or that the president who appointed the first woman to the U.S. Supreme Court and declared Martin Luther King’s birthday a national holiday had to be a champion of gender and racial equality – a Democrat, naturally. Except that it was Republican Ronald Reagan.
Going back even further, a closer look at Teddy Roosevelt, one of the Republicans’ favorite Republicans, reveals that he was a big government progressive statist.
And Thomas Jefferson, who besides his having been a slaveowner is idolized by Democrats, was actually our original small government republican (small “r” but big, too, as in Democratic-Republican, his political party, “Democrat” modifying the noun “Republican”).
“Next I suppose you’re going to tell me that in the 1960 presidential race, Richard Nixon was the liberal and John F. Kennedy was the conservative?”
Yes. Exactly right. It was Kennedy, after all, who implemented massive tax cuts. “A rising tide lifts all boats,” he said. You know, the thing modern-day liberals like to deride as “trickle-down economics.” And Nixon? Let’s see…he established the Environmental Protection Agency, ended the draft, took America off the gold standard, lowered the voting age from 21 to 18, established relations with Communist China, and imposed government controls on wages and prices. Quite the lefty, wouldn’t you say?
So, the next time anyone labels a candidate as liberal, conservative, Marxist, fascist, Communist, statist, Christian fundamentalist, or anything else, a thorough Internet read before passing judgment is advised.
But not read some troublesome-sounding ones with the words URGENT: YOU MUST READ THIS NOW in bold black and red on the homepage, but the candidates’ official ones, where you can really find out what the candidate believes – without tainted by all the spin.