Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Years ago, when encountering someone with a different opinion than me on some issue, I thought I would be able to convince them that I was right.... after all, right is right, and their being on the 'wrong' side meant that they simply were missing some piece of information that would cause them to see the light. I figured I just needed to figure out what they weren't seeing or understanding.

And when my attempts fell short, I figured I must have screwed up the presentation... after all, right is right, and anyone with full command of the facts would obviously take the 'right' position... so I would just go back to the beginning and start over showing them what they were getting wrong.... and I would do this again and again and again.

And then it hit me, their failure to agree with me wasn't a failure on my part, it was a failure on theirs. Something in their head was preventing them from seeing things as I did. Maybe it was their having been dropped on their head earlier in life. Maybe it was something they were taught or not taught in school. Maybe it was a result of the drugs they took or didn't take while younger. But whatever the cause, it was clear that they were physically and mentally unable to process information the same way I did.

And over the years, I modified this thinking: it wasn't so much that they were unable as they were unwilling to look at things the same way I did... and the reason for this is that they had different values and believed in different things than I did. They believed big government could be efficient. They believed that taking money from someone could be justified by someone else claiming to need the money. They believed that the crazies in the world could be dealt with rationally. They believed that it was okay to limit what people could do with their own property. They believed that Bush would allow the 9/11 attacks to happen.

But did I accept this? No, I doubled down and put even more effort into convincing them they were wrong. I was so sure of my persuasiveness that I (with a capital I) would be able to convince them their value system was screwed up. I would be able to rescue them from the silly beliefs that trapped them in the world of delusional liberalism.

Of course I couldn't... and the reason is that liberals are missing the switch that allows them to see that their ideas can't stand up to scrutiny. It doesn't how much you show them that socialized anything doesn't work, they just can't accept that.

Anyway, the point I'm trying to make is that at some point you just have to accept that there's no convincing them that you're right, no matter how hard you huff and no matter how hard you puff. They're just not going to get on board. Once they've made up their minds, there's no going back.

And so it is with Obama's speech tonight. He is so enamored with what he believes are his superior oratorical skills that he refuses to accept that there are a whole lot of people who disagree with him on health care and who aren't going to change their mind no matter how many speeches he gives and no matter how much he tries to marginalize and demonize his opponents.

A President with less (unjustified) confidence would recognize this and move on. He would try to buy off his opponents, by giving them something they want in return for supporting something he wants. He would follow the adage of staying quiet and having people think he had political capital than speak, have no one listen and reveal his support is an inch deep.

But Obama can't do that. He's got to keep trying to convince his opponents that they're wrong to oppose him. He'll use facts, he'll use anecdotes, he'll use rhetoric, he'll belittle his opponents.

But he won't succeed.... not because he hasn't come up with the right argument... but because his opponents just have different values than he does.