'Conservative activism' has an oxymoronic ring to it. Political activism does not come naturally to conservatives, as I point out in The Conservative Disadvantage. But the times they are a 'changin' and so I concluded that piece by saying that we now need to become active. "Not in the manner of the leftist who seeks meaning in activism for its own sake, but to defend ourselves and our values so that we can protect the private sphere from the Left's totalitarian encroachment. The conservative values of liberty and self-reliance and fiscal responsibility are under massive assault by the Obama administration . . . ."
Leftists like to think that they own dissent, a conceit I demolish in Does the Left Own Dissent? Truth is, they own dissent as little as they own activism. But libs and leftists simply cannot credit conservative dissent. They cannot take seriously what conservatives say, but must dismiss and psychologize.
Case in point, Michael Tomasky's Something New on the Mall. To Tomasky's credit, he does not employ the derisive 'tea-bagger' epithet. By the way, lefties ought to understand that they don't have proprietary rights in derision any more than they do in dissent. So I suggest that if a leftist calls you a tea-bagger, return the compliment by calling him a scum-bagger. A taste of his own medicine may do him some good, if not now, then later after he has grown up.
What struck me about Tomasky's lengthy piece is that there is not a hint of an admission that any of the points brought up by the conservative protesters have any merit. Nor is there any attempt to rebut these points. Instead we get a lengthy explanation of "how astroturfing works." The derisive 'astroturf' is supposed to suggest that the protests are not genuine 'grass roots' expressions of populist opposition to, among other things, fiscal recklessness, but have been artificially created and orchestrated by powerful 'corporate' interests:
This conservative protest movement, though, has three powerful forces supporting it: bottomless amounts of corporate money; an ideologically dedicated press, radio, and cable television apparatus eager to tout its existence; and elected officials who are willing to embrace it publicly and whose votes in support of the movement's positions can be absolutely relied upon.
But none of that is true of the progressive movement? Substitute 'progressive movement' for 'conservative protest movement' in the above quotation and the result is actually closer to the truth. More importantly, attempts by leftists to ferret out the underlying causes and motives of conservative positions border on the genetic fallacy. Obama is a prime offender here.
The genetic fallacy is committed by those who fail to appreciate that questions about the truth or falsity, or rational acceptability or unacceptability, of a proposition are logically independent of questions about the origin or genesis of someone's believing the proposition. Whether a proposition is true or false, or posseses some cognate epistemic property, is independent of any role that the believing of said proposition might play in the believer's mental economy. Thus if S's believing that p is comforting to S, it does not follow that p is false, or that S has no good reason for accepting that p. Similarly, if S's believing that p is painful to S, it does not follow that p is true, or that S has a good reason for accepting that p. And if you come to believe that 'Cash for Clunkers' is a policy that is both morally and economically objectionable because of arguments you heard presented on a conservative talk show, it does not follow from the fact that your believing had that origin that the content of your belief is false or rationally insupportable.