White Paper: Partisan Pathology in the U.S.
by John F. Gaski, Ph.D.
“There’s something happening here, but what it is ain’t exactly clear . . .” — Buffalo Springfield, 1967
Or maybe it is clear. The Buffalo Springfield observation may not be so applicable half a century later.
Every major leftist movement the world has ever seen has been brutally totalitarian by nature. Occasionally this degree of extremism arises elsewhere along the ideological spectrum, such as the current phenomenon of Islamo-fascism, but Soviet Russia and Nazi Germany remain the archetypes of the socialist genre of dictatorship impulse among many other incarnations— which clearly include today’s liberal Democrats (so-called) in the United States.1
Contemporary liberal Democrats reveal their own totalitarian proclivities in many subtle ways, such as support for single-payer health care and all other forms of big government (except the military), and some that are not so subtle. Recent years have seen a surge in the latter variety. Shouting down conservative speakers on college campuses to silence their views has been ongoing for awhile, but now the practice has graduated to violent attacks on the speakers and their audiences. There is no record of comparable suppression of free speech by campus conservatives. And why is it only the left that abides no dissent from its preferred orthodoxy? The adherents expose through their own behavior that they fear a fair debate of ideas, so they attempt to quell intellectual challenge through brute force—just as all autocrats do.
America’s self-identified liberal Democrats do resort to the most extreme and aggressive tactics right out of the Saul Alinsky manual, i.e., destroy any target that is a threat to the radical agenda. Truth seems to be beside the point to them. To substantiate via illustration of such Stalinist “politics of personal destruction,” we first offer objective examples, some of which a reader may have forgotten, in roughly ascending order of severity.
A Revealing Record
(1) Senator John McCain was the left’s favorite Republican—until he ran against their favorite Democrat in 2008. Then the lib-Dems challenged McCain’s citizenship even though there was no legal basis for the claim. A bit ironic, is it not? (What of the right’s “birther” allegation against President Obama? The two people mainly responsible for suspicion about Barack Obama’s U.S. citizenship are Hillary Clinton, whose 2008 campaign seized upon the issue furtively, and Obama himself because he claimed for a decade, through his book blurb that he surely either wrote or approved, that he was born in Kenya. QED.)
(2) Newt Gingrich was a notably effective House Speaker in the 1990s. The left naturally cannot tolerate that from a competitor so they smeared him with a barrage of phony ethics charges until he resigned. Later, Gingrich was exonerated on all counts. Not most, all. Had you not heard about that from the mainstream media? If not, why not? The final exoneration was reported, although very selectively (Brown 2012).
(3) Mitt Romney, as 2012 presidential candidate, was Mr. Nice Guy to the point of too much innocence, until the Dems got ahold of him. Then the public found out that he had recklessly abused his dog, beat up a fellow student while in high school, intentionally caused an employee to die of cancer, and sadistically imprisoned many women in a torture device known as a binder! Remember? This profile of depravity derived from the Obama campaign strategy known as “kill Romney.” Curiously, the mainstream media hardly mentioned the appropriately- named strategy while candidate Obama’s own personal history was deemed off-limits by the same media. Hypocrisy is a familiar trait of leftist totalitarians.
(4) The term “Borking” needs no elaboration and speaks volumes about its practitioners, especially since Senate Democrats invented the sleazy form of character assassination and have used it often against judicial nominees. It is objective fact that Republicans have not gone as far as emulating it. For example, one of the few occasions of a Repub snub of a Supreme Court nominee, Merrick Garland, was done without personal invective. Case closed.
(5) Poor George W. Bush. Investigations by the U.S. Senate, the Robb-Silverman commission, and the U.K.’s Butler commission all concluded that Mr. Bush did not lie about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. If anything, he received the same information that worldwide intelligence agencies did about Saddam’s WMD arsenal, and came to the same conclusion. Recall the pre-Iraq War assurance from CIA Director George Tenet, a Bill Clinton holdover Democrat, that it was a “slam dunk.” Yet “Bush lied” was burned into the national consciousness through lib-Dem propaganda.
Unfortunately, the Bush message team was too flat-footed to explain this cogently, allowing “W” to be an eight-year national punching bag and paving the way for election of a true radical leftist president. The ultimate irony may be that Saddam did have WMD in Iraq. About 5000 canisters of chemical weapons have been found there since the Iraq War, per a 2014 New York Times report, among others (Chivers 2014). Why has this information not been more widely disseminated? And how do we suppose Syria’s Assad and ISIS came into their stockpiles of chemical weapons?
But those weapons are degraded and should not count, the liberal Democrat media tell us. Yet military testimony has confirmed residual lethality in the mass casualty range―as if such confirmation were even necessary—in other words, weapons of mass destruction.
(6) Barack Obama carried on and advanced the vile practice of despotic repression by weaponizing virtually every office of his government for domestic political use. The IRS campaign of terror against conservative groups was only one of the most high-profile and subversive, and the perpetrators have gotten off scot free. (Richard Nixon received an article of impeachment for having merely considered much less.) Now literal sedition by high-ranking deep-state FBI officials seems to have been exposed.
(7) The grand master of personal destruction politics may have been Bill Clinton, who savaged anyone who was ever seen as a threat, whether James McDougal, Ken Starr, Billy Dale, Monica Lewinsky, Kathleen Willey, or Juanita Broaddrick—just to name a few. This m.o. was the whole point of the “war room” of Clinton’s permanent campaign, along with Hillary’s “bimbo eruption squad.” A colorful couple, those Clintons. Hillary, in particular, was a disciple of leftist Saul Alinsky.
(8) Currently and very visibly we have lib-Dem rioters, following upon the Occupy Wall Street slow-motion riot literally sponsored by George Soros, the hybrid communist/capitalist billionaire (not an oxymoron in this brave new political world) and other leading Democrats (Reuters 2011). (Who do you think paid the salaries of the Occupy Wall Street organizers?) We see and hear Black Lives Matter demanding the murder of police—before and after being feted at the Obama White House—and the misnamed Antifa ironically living the fascist ideal of causing mayhem whenever someone dares to utter a thought contrary to the lib-Dem conception of political correctness. After the first violent act by a right-wing fringe fanatic in many years, in Charlottesville, the fake news narrative is that conservatives are the violent ones when, in reality, almost all the political violence in this country is committed by the far left. (As Casey Stengel said, “You can look it up.”) Or ask Steve Scalise or the riot victims in Ferguson, Missouri. Ask the victims of racial violence incited by Barack Obama himself in the wake of the Trayvon Martin incident and others.2 Ask America’s cops who must deal with the chronic rioters. In fact, it can be inferred that a disproportionate amount of all violence in America is perpetrated by liberal Democrats. This proposition hardly requires empirical measurement but, for the record, those guys killing each other on the South Side of Chicago represent a demographic that is about 95% contra-Republican.
(9) One of the most telling of all symptoms of the left’s nascent despotism is their strategy of publicly vilifying and shaming any entity that disagrees with them, such as the way they organize against businesses or prominent individuals that violate leftist dogma by supporting a more traditional social position. For instance, dare to agree with the view on homosexual marriage held until a few years ago by Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, as Dan Cathy of Chick-Fil-A did, and you become a target. (Recall Alinsky’s “isolate it, freeze it, personalize it” etc.) Likewise behold the revelations about leftist groups such as the Southern Poverty Law Center overtly demonizing as a hate group generally anyone they merely disagree with (a total of 917 accused targets as of this writing!), without substantive justification. Public harassment of opponents is now a declared Democrat program.
The left decided long ago to downplay debate over ideas—their ideology having failed empirically all over the world—and simply use the Alinsky approach of scorched-earth personal attack instead. These neo-McCarthyist tactics are the political class’s operational analog of choosing violence over discourse because they are not very good at discourse. In fact, their street soldiers now sometimes proclaim that “speech is violence.”
(10) Demonstrating that in the lib-Dem Animal Farm some pigs really are more equal than others, Hillary Clinton was found to have committed hundreds or thousands of email felonies, in only one of her many scandals, and then the FBI’s erratic James Comey said “never mind.” The Benghazi malfeasance by Mrs. Clinton and Barack Obama also has gone unpunished. The two even imprisoned an innocent man to cover up their culpability and burnish the cover story about a video as cause. (Hillary tried to do the same to her employee Billy Dale two decades earlier over White House travel office patronage jobs, of all things. Remember? A moral issue for reader reflection: How many moral offenses are worse than trying to put an innocent person in prison? One candidate: actually putting an innocent person in prison, as Obama/Clinton did. That is quite a commentary on the morality of their administration.) The political elite elevating itself above the law is a hallmark of totalitarian leftist dictatorship.
(11) Added to this bill of particulars is a very recent innovation: One of the lib-Dems’ long-standing favorite slander devices is the public accusation of racism. A joke currently making the rounds: “What is the definition of a racist? Answer: anyone who disagrees with a liberal.” Rare leaks of Democratic Party internal communications indeed reveal that the false racist accusation is a standard part of their playbook (Kilgore 2016). But now a new twist has been popularized. Have you wondered how the ever-present “white supremacist” locution appeared on the scene so suddenly? Where did that come from? It came from Democrat focus groups. The old “racist” chestnut was growing as stale from overuse as the boy who cried “wolf,” so the left needed something fresh. Their focus groups confirmed that “white supremacist” is even more negatively charged than the formerly favored smear word―or the lib- Dems would not be using it―so that is their new trope. Simple as that.
Alinskyite tactics are not the only unsavory methods appropriated by the contemporary American left. The Big Lie strategy has been a lib-Dem staple for years, so the vicious elements of the preceding itemized litany of deplorable political behavior are no surprise, given their philosophical origins. Returning to the racial slander theme per se, before the lib-Dems dare to revisit the “racist/supremacist” device again they really should consider that this most venomous accusation of them all rightfully requires some proof. But they rarely seem to have any. They customarily do not bother with evidence because they cannot, apparently. Of course, their media allies allow them to get away with that lapse.
Truly, an accusation of racism has become the supreme insult in our society. Accusing someone of being a racist is now worse than calling the person a murderer. White-on-black racism in particular has become socially unacceptable, as the grave stigma that attaches to it confirms. This evolution actually is a measure of how anti-racist America has become, how much progress the country has made in overcoming vestiges of its former and more primitive state. According to poll findings, even American blacks acknowledge that black-on-white racism is more prevalent than the opposite kind (31% vs. 24%; Rasmussen Reports 2013). Really.
Let us all recognize as well that for the past 45 years or so, the only legally permissible— sometimes legally mandated—racial discrimination in the U.S. is that which is committed in favor of minorities, and typically against Caucasians. (The only known exception is anti- Oriental discrimination in school admissions because those of Asian heritage tend to be such high achievers.) This is the extreme state of our social law, for better or worse. Also to be noted, the white majority in America is the first majority ethnic group in world history to have intentionally disadvantaged itself by law to enhance the relative standing of a different ethnic group. That is to be celebrated morally, yet we now hear daily the left’s over-the-top mantra of “white supremacist.”
There is a more fundamental reason for the liberal Democrat amalgam’s resort to this odious tactic, beyond research findings of its marketing effectiveness: The lib-Dems cannot permit the mass healing of race relations in our country. They need to undermine and aggravate those relations so their side is better able to exploit the issue. Solve the problem and they lose the advantageous issue. Is there no limit to their neo-McCarthyist cynicism? To paraphrase Joseph Welch of the original McCarthyism controversy, “Have they no decency?”3
What of a modicum of proof for this particular severe conclusion? It is analytical in this case, to wit: What would happen to the Democrats politically if U.S. race relations were decisively remedied? Or what would happen to the Dems if the entire minority underclass suddenly became wealthy? Even momentary reflection suggests that removal of these wedge issues would sabotage the chances of Dems winning very many more elections at the national level henceforth. They see that, too.
What about real white nationalists, including the Ku Klux Klan and neo-Nazis? A miniscule fraction of a percent of the U.S. population they are, so small in number and power that they are an insignificant blip. The political left, along with the fellow-traveling racial victimhood industry, nevertheless magnifies them for political gain. If politics is everything to liberal Democrats, maybe it is because government power is everything to them.
(12) Perhaps the worst of the Big Lies was “if you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor; if you like your plan, you can keep your plan,” designed to give lib-Dem government absolute life-and-death power over all U.S. citizens through enactment of Obamacare. What better way to achieve totalitarian rule than mortal power over all the ruled people? Now do you see why socialized medicine is the lib-Dems’ Holy Grail?
The preceding selective but representative compendium of total warfare methods applied to the political realm captures the soul of one ideological force in contemporary America. True attitudes are best revealed by one’s behavior, after all. But what of the countless positive public policy achievements of the criticized camp, one may ask? Are they to be disregarded? The answer to that fair question follows after an attempt to provide balance, but there does appear to be truth embedded in the cliché that the lib-Dems play hardball politics using brass knuckles while their opponents play patty-cake with kid gloves (all while jointly setting a record for mixed metaphors). Also, no effort will be made here to psychoanalyze and ascribe ultimate motivations, except for one possibly obvious hypothesis: The lib-Dems qualify as “true believer” types, i.e., those who are so devoted to their cause that they feel morally justified in using any means necessary to achieve it (Hoffer 1951). In effect, their unquestioned political ends justify the means—any means.
Other Side of the Coin?
The presentation thus far has been one-sided, of necessity, because that is the nature of elaborating a case or arguing a position, but cannot the same type of record of conservative/ Republican offenses be marshaled? This non-partisan reporter has tried and concludes that no reciprocal behavior pattern from the conservative-Repub counterparts is available. A record comparable to the preceding list cannot be assembled for the relatively meek and feckless U.S. conservatives and Republicans, as a reader’s attempt to do so should confirm. The closest analogue might be a particular “third-rate burglary” in the early 1970s. Chronic lib-Dem accusations of despotic behavior by Republican administrations, notably Nixon and Reagan, ultimately amounted to political spinnage and likely psychological projection. At least Nixon, unlike Bill Clinton in his impeachment episode, had the decency to resign from office, and that may be somewhat telling.
Was there theft of the Y2000 presidential election by the George W. Bush campaign in Florida? Unfortunately for those who maintain that belief, every contemporaneous recount and analysis including ones done by the media, along with a U.S. Supreme Court decision, verified that Bush actually won under the law.
Perhaps the most creative effort to make a case for a Republican political atrocity was the Valerie Plame (purported) incident when George W. Bush’s administration was accused of “outing” a covert CIA agent for political retribution. As if any in this journal’s sophisticated audience had not already penetrated that hoax, it was systematically dismantled (a) as the facts of the case came out and (b) by Gaski (2005), among others. In the end, the essence of the accusation against Bush’s people was not true; it was a jerry-built scheme concocted by ultra- partisan Democrats Plame and Joseph Wilson, her husband, to embarrass the Bush administration. No one was prosecuted for anything resembling an unmasking offense. The only person who really had outed Plame was Wilson himself.
Does not Donald Trump’s aggressive rhetoric qualify as parallel to the lib-Dem heavy- handed style? Trump has been known to make things somewhat personal when he counterpunches politically. Recognize, however, that the obnoxious Trump has been a nearly life-long Democrat. And counterpunching implies that his political opponents often initiate the conflict.
This issue does suggest another example of projection and hypocrisy, though: After complaining that Trump might not accept adverse results of the 2016 presidential election, it is the Dems that are not accepting of the outcome.
Explanatory Interlude: Partisan?
The author can hear the reader accusations of partisanship through the pages and from some distance away in space and time. Let us reflect on the definition of the word “partisan”: (adj.) “unreasonably devoted to a party or faction”; (n.) “a blind or fanatical adherent . . . of a party or cause” (Britannica 1959). That is, “partisan” means opposing a political or ideological position or group just because it is the opposition, rather than for substantive reasons. Therefore, any other legitimate motives for one’s opposition or criticism render it non-partisan in orientation.
Similarly, “non-partisan” does not mean that one may only criticize the two major U.S. political parties or ideologies equally. What if the two are not equally wrong on a particular issue? There is no a priori or empirical reason to believe that the two major political parties in the U.S. are always identically right and wrong, or equally good and bad. If that were true, it would be a probabilistic freak. In the same way, for example, a book or article about Richard Nixon’s crimes is not ethically obliged to give equal space to criticism of Jimmy Carter. It is acknowledged, trivially, that the two leading political sides have mixed records of substantive achievement.
Any suggestion of partisan content here is therefore disqualified as inadmissible because it presumes motives—a non-legitimate argumentation mode unless possessing considerable state-of-mind evidence. (Sometimes, of course, political groups and individuals do furnish that evidence via the totality of their conduct, including examples such as those discussed in the earlier section.) The author is the one in a position to best know the partisan or non-partisan nature of the argument in this case. Unfortunately, the reader can only judge under uncertainty based upon the full montage of surrounding text and this particular disclaimer—except for two other fortuitous and incidental evidentiary features: (1) The information in the author’s note should be sufficient to provide objective confirmation of non-partisanship. (2) Likewise, other author publications with conversely-directed policy criticism are validating (Gaski 2012; Gaski and Sagarin 2011).
Beyond this, the author is well-aware that many readers may believe, by custom, that it is not legitimate to criticize U.S. Democrats on this or any other issue, only Republicans. We need to get over that, toward the non-partisan goal avowed, and the hope is that this demonstrably non-partisan and anti-partisan item can be an instrument for such an equitable purpose. Abundant empirical data verify that the public media and academic milieu in the U.S. and other countries are overwhelmingly left-leaning or liberal (in the modern Western sense) ideologically (e.g., Baron 2006). A scholarly journal intersects with both worlds. It should not be considered out of line, therefore, to air a divergent, heterodox perspective, especially if non-ideological.
Moreover, true to the dispassionate academic paradigm, this document to now avoids appraising socialist dictatorship as inherently good or evil, or better or worse than democratic liberty. The author does acknowledge subjective opposition to “brutal,” “violent,” “personal destruction,” “smear,” “character assassination,” “repression,” “terror,” “riot,” “murder,” “mayhem,” “demonizing,” “felonies,” “slander,” “racial discrimination,” “cynicism,” and “hypocrisy”—traits herein attached to leftist governance along with argumentation supporting the connection. Perhaps that generalization only represents coincidence.
Further evidence of the need for this step back from partisanship (of the prevalent kind) may be (1) the hostile reaction of some readers at this very moment and (2) the fact that this author actually feels it necessary to elaborately justify criticism of a category of politician. That measure is not ordinarily required for criticism of the opposite camp.
Returning to the explicit issue a bit more broadly, there also is a speculative explanation for the liberal Democrats’ overall recent spasm of hysteria, which is only growing more rabid. Consider that their camp had some very sinister plans for the United States of America and was oh-so-close to ultimate success. With the election of President Hillary Clinton, a prospective second straight ideological comrade in the office, the Dems could have finally amnestied 11 million illegal aliens, i.e., new Democrat voters, thereby ensuring that no Republican could ever again be elected president. This outcome would establish their one-party dictatorship, in effect―if only it had happened. The dream scenario having been snatched away by the uncooperative and ignorant American electorate is what has literally driven the lib-Dems over the edge.
So, in their delirium, they lash out at any perceived enemy, with the more kinetic Antifa rioters even going into the streets. It is all totally understandable for a group of spoiled-brat closet totalitarians experiencing the throes of catastrophic disappointment and rejection. And if they tear the nation apart as they act out, so much the better, in their warped view. As they reveal in so many ways, they always despised the country’s fundamentals anyway.
Now the plan is for someone like arch-socialist Bernie Sanders or crypto-socialist Elizabeth Warren, who even misrepresented her own genetics for financial gain, to win the presidency in 2020 for a slightly postponed permanent takeover. The severe methods reviewed here are only an inkling of what the left will do when it finally achieves total power, per Lord Action’s timeless warning of power’s corrupting capacity. Again, what has been the nature of every true leftist regime in world history?
It cannot happen here? That is what elites thought on the eve of other totalitarian ascensions throughout history—perhaps all of them. Pleasant dreams, Amerika. There is still something happening here.
John F. Gaski, Ph.D., is an associate professor, Mendoza College of Business University of Notre Dame. His primary research specialization is the study of social and political power and conflict. Dr. Gaski is a long-time registered Democrat and long-time registered Republican — intermittently, not simultaneously or sequentially — which should dispatch any erroneous impression of partisanship.
1. For those who insist that the German Nazis were a right-wing regime, they did conspicuously call themselves “National Socialists.” They also exercised ultimate control over the means of production, though not outright ownership, thereby conforming to the essential definition of a socialist system.
2. Was not Martin himself a victim? Yes, but not of political violence.
3. Yes, Sen. Joseph McCarthy was a Republican—a contrarian and ostracized one who could be understood as using neo-liberal smear tactics. He could also be accused of being correct about the big picture of Soviet communist infiltration of the federal government during the Cold War.
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Gaski, John F. and Jeff Sagarin (2011), “Detrimental Effects of Daylight-Saving Time on SAT Scores,” Journal of Neuroscience, Psychology, and Economics, 4 (February), 44-53.
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White papers are drafts posted here to attract research suggestions only and are not connected to the Indiana Policy Review Foundation, the authors bearing full responsibility for the content.