Conservatives tend to hold a fallen view of humanity. The world in their eyes is imperfect and imperfectable. We have been ejected from the garden, and we’re not going back. The most recent round of conservative converts — Christopher Hitchens most famous among them — predictably came about following the tragic events of September 11, 2001, the stark reminder that evil exists eternally on earth.
Progressives typically take the opposite view. Man is not forever fallen. Indeed, the world stands ready for steady improvement, given the presence of progressive policy. The only logical conclusion of the progressive premise is earthly utopia, the promise that we can rebuild Eden if only we let them lead the way. With goals so noble, how could anyone question or, Godwin forbid, challenge such progress? There need be no debate when the road ahead is clear, and there are but two reasons to oppose the path forward: enormous, awe-inspiring stupidity, or else malevolence.
Democrats can call Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan many things, but “stupid” doesn’t make the list. And so the progressive party must malign our intentions. They insist we can hold no legitimate disagreements over policy or political philosophy: to them, we harbor only wars on women, bigotry, and ill will. While Governor Romney’s campaign has highlighted President Obama’s failed economic record, Obama’s team has accused Romney of somehow giving a woman cancer. While the right caricatures a political opponent with disinterested data, the left vilifies a sworn enemy with ad hominem attacks.
In politics, the first rule is to know your opponent; in war, it’s to know your enemy. The Democratic Party has shown that it doesn’t, that it can’t even tell the difference. Godwin help them come November.
Michael Knowles is an actor and political spokesman.