To Overcome Adolescent Thinking We Need to ‘Take the Whole Nation to School’

From six years ago today:

The word “adolescent” has been stuck in my head for a few days. For informed conservatives it’s a given that liberals seem stuck in a juvenile way of thinking. I realize that the use this kind of language is highly insulting to many well meaning people on the political left. The purpose of using it isn’t to hurt feeling but to help those on the right understand what it is we’re dealing with.

First let me explain how the word got lodged in my brain. reported this a few days ago (emphasis added):

On Laura Ingraham’s radio show on Thursday, Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer railed against President Barack Obama’s foreign policy gestures, specifically his referral to Russia as a regional power earlier this week. Krauthammer blamed it on the inexperienced advisers the president has surrounded himself with in his second term and his own worldview.

“This points to the fact that Obama has surrounded himself in this term, in this kind of second-term arrogance, with midgets,” Krauthammer said. “There is nobody in the high command who had the stature of Bob Gates, for example, or even a Hillary Clinton, when he came into office at that point, being in office he had to pretend to take advice from seniors, elders. He doesn’t consult anyone. This is a one-man foreign policy run by someone with an adolescent view of what the international system is like and it is a very dangerous time for precisely that reason.”

You can listen to Krauthammer say it here about fifty seconds into the recording.

I realize lefties think conservatives are crazy, evil, unintelligent, blah blah blah. I actually don’t know any conservatives that are offended by that since we see those on the left as just wrong. Naïve. Misguided. While we do get angry about the damage they cause and the pain that results from their well-meaning but wrong-headed policies, insults emanating from liberals are treated much like those coming from — uh, well, yes, adolescents. Ever been insulted by a kid? Did you laugh?

For the record, let’s take a look at the word “adolescent” at “having the characteristics of adolescence or of an adolescent.” Unsurprisingly Wikipedia has an entire page dedicated to ‘adolescence.’

Adolescence (from Latin adolescere, meaning “to grow up”) is a transitional stage of physical and psychological human development that generally occurs during the period from puberty to legal adulthood (age of majority). The period of adolescence is most closely associated with the teenage years, though its physical, psychological and cultural expressions may begin earlier and end later.

For our purposes we’re talking about intellectual adolescence — and referring to a simplistic and faulty approach to serious matters.

Again, here’s Wikipedia:

In studying adolescent development, adolescence can be defined biologically, as the physical transition marked by the onset of puberty and the termination of physical growth; cognitively, as changes in the ability to think abstractly and multi-dimensionally; or socially, as a period of preparation for adult roles.

Well-informed conservatives have a much longer list than Krauthammer’s reference to leftist thinking about the international system. Economics, for one, cries aloud in the streets. John Hayward at posted an article the other day with this title: “Yes, the government can run out of money.” That title might confuse many on the left, but conservatives see it as the most basic of common sense.

Hayward called liberals adolescent in their thinking without using the words. He writes of “the popular liberal fantasy of unlimited government money,” calling it “one of the most dangerous ideas in the modern world.”

The argument, in essence, is that since government can print as many dollar bills as it pleases (or conjure them out of the electronic ether) Uncle Sam’s fortune is limitless, so there’s no reason to worry about public debt. Maybe we’ll have to think about slowing down the debt express at some point in the distant future, but for now, just relax and fall asleep to the comforting hum of those Treasury printing presses!

If you have a few minutes Hayward’s article is worth your time. He makes my point well when it comes to lefty thinking regarding government spending and debt.

American Thinker’s C. Edmund Wright had a post a week ago with this very disrespectful headline: “The Profound Arrogant Ignorance and Stupidity of Liberals in Charge.” Clearly he’s being unfair with that, right? While he might be piling on for the fun of it, read the article and get ready to be afraid. Matt Drudge had a post a week back about having to pay his Obamacare penalty with the filing of his taxes this spring and the White House and the media went nuts.

Yes — supposedly smart people in high places don’t understand that self-employed people have to pay their 2014 taxes as they go, so whereas most other Americans won’t have to deal with Obamacare while filing their taxes until early 2015…okay, enough said.

This is an internet op-ed so if you want a longer list of examples and a deep psychological analysis of political liberals I’ll refer you to First Things or Public Discourse or you can pick up a copy of “The Liberal Mind.”

How the left thinks about the right and how the right thinks about the left are topics familiar to most politicos, and it’s the subject of at least a few humorous email ‘forwards’ (like this one).

When you get down to brass tacks, however, what we’re discussing here isn’t funny at all. The failure of the political right to effectively engage in the information war means that too much of the public has been educated by people who, to say the least, are not fit to do any teaching. If we were talking about small matters, it wouldn’t be a problem. But civilization isn’t an accident, and the adolescent mindset isn’t up to the task of saving the West from its enemies. In fact, the adolescents on the political left don’t think America or Western Europe has any enemies to speak of and it is certainly not in decline. They see what’s happening as progress. Well-informed conservatives shake their heads when presented with that kind of thinking. It’s beyond comprehension — unless you consider the source.

What Charles Krauthammer said wasn’t just some throw-away line: “This is a one-man foreign policy run by someone with an adolescent view of what the international system is like and it is a very dangerous time for precisely that reason.”

We live in perilous times economically as well, and even more importantly, when it comes to virtue and morality. Those with immature thinking don’t get it. It’s up to us to “take the whole nation to school.” Men in Britain and America who lived during the American Founding era understood this:

Thomas Jefferson:

I know of no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion by education. This is the true corrective of abuses of constitutional power.

Sam Adams:

No people will tamely surrender their liberties, nor can any be easily subdued, when knowledge is diffused and virtue is preserved. On the contrary, when people are universally ignorant, and debauched in their manners, they will sink under their own weight without the aid of foreign invaders.

Edmund Burke:

But what is liberty without wisdom and without virtue? It is the greatest of all possible evils; for it is folly, vice, and madness, without tuition or restraint. Those who know what virtuous liberty is, cannot bear to see it disgraced by incapable heads, on account of their having high-sounding words in their mouths.