The Bregret Nonsense

The indispensable Charles Cooke deals a shattering blow to the media’s desperate attempts to rewrite the Brexit vote result and pretend that there is a huge wave of regret engulfing Leave voters. The whole thing is worth your time — he notes how bogus the Google trends and petition stories are — but he concludes with this:

One of the great failings of the American media class – both in this case, and more broadly — is its refusal to accept that national sovereignty is just as important to people as is material wealth, and that the average person’s objections to unrestricted immigration are rooted in quotidian concerns rather than racism. The Voxes and the Wonkblogs of the world may well be hooked on questions such as, “If the French parliament handed regulatory control over to the Peruvians, what would happen to exports?” – but most people are not, and, if given a choice between being ruled from afar by self-professed experts or retaining more control over their lives, they will usually plump for the latter. At the Virginia ratifying convention of 1788, Patrick Henry instructed the electors, “You are not to inquire how your trade may be increased, nor how you are to become a great and powerful people, but how your liberties can be secured; for liberty ought to be the direct end of your Government.” Clearly, a considerable number of Brits still agree.

This is a growing problem with supposed fact-based journalism as well as large parts of economics and sociology. They tend to see issues in very narrow academic terms and don’t even consider that some people might have values behind the purely utilitarian. Vox, in particular, is one of the absolute worst at this. In the recent past, they have advocating raising the smoking age to 21, keeping the drinking age high, restricting sugar and salt in our food, banning guns and all other manner of Nanny State nonsense. And their reasoning is entirely, “Liberal Think Tank X says policy Y will save Z lives per year.”

Even if the think tanks were right — and they frequently aren’t — that entirely misses the point. People value freedom. They value accountability. They value a government that both listens to them when they want it to and leaves them alone when they want it to. We are not numbers in a spreadsheet. This is not SimCity. We don’t win point based on our lifespans or healthcare expenditures. People want and deserve the freedom to make trade-offs. The pleasure of drinking in exchange for poorer health. The freedom to smoke in exchange for shorter life spans. The freedom to buy guns at the risk of being shot. And yes, the ability to be governed by your fellow Brits in exchange for slightly less wealth (most of which would go to the elites anyway, not to the masses).

It is vital to the national political conversation that we engage people on their own terms; that we address the arguments they are making rather than the arguments we assign to them. The “smug style of liberalism”, as Vox itself once called it, is an utter failure to do so.

Another example: yesterday, the Supreme Court rendered a landmark abortion ruling striking down Texas’ regulations on abortion clinics as too restrictive. As is their want, the Left responded to yet another massive victory in the Culture War with anger and outrage that anyone dared disagree with them. And over and over, we heard that this was about controlling women’s sexuality and punishing women for unapproved sex. Maybe that’s a part of this. But you’re not going to get anywhere with that besides making yourself feel superior to those awful awful cave-man pro-Lifers. It’s much more productive addressing the tens of millions of people (including tens of millions of women) who see abortion as the extinguishing of a human life and saw the Kermit Gosnell horror as an indication that abortion clinics were dangerously under-regulated. They might be wrong. But you have to engage them on the issue they care about, not the issue you wish they cared about.

I’m as guilty of anyone of talking past the arguments my political opponents are making. But the problem has become very acute with the Left in recent years. And the Brexit is simply the latest distillation of this.

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  1. richtaylor365

    Cooke just reiterated what I have been saying all along; freedom, self determination and oversight over your overseers is worth fighting for.

     They value a government that both listens to them when they want it to and leaves them alone when they want it to.

    It goes farther than that. They want a government that they can remove (or effect) when government oversteps. Jefferson nailed it in the DOI:

    That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government

    This is hard to do when those leaders are unelected, unaccountable, and reside in a different fricken country.

     And yes, the ability to be governed by your fellow Brits in exchange for slightly less wealth (most of which would go to the elites anyway, not to the masses).

    That’s a pretty broad assumption you are making, who says they will suffer financially over the long run over Brexit? In theory, they will be saving all that dough they send to Brussels, keeping it in house. Savvy trade deals may bring more trade dollars beyond what the EU did for them. They are now free to eliminate those dopey green initiatives that hampered growth and job creation. And besides, allowing them to sink or swim on their own, all peoples deserve this very basic human right.

     

     

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  2. richtaylor365

    It should also be understood that Brexit is not going to fix or change the bad policies enacted by their own leaders.  A Brit making a simple wage of say $55k a year will pay a flat tax rate of 40%, plus a 20% VAT tax on anything he buys. Factor in the average wait time of a surgical procedure is 10 months and energy rates going thru the roof, funding Cameron’s dopey green projects. They had their work cut out for them even before leaving the EU.

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  3. ilovecress

    Don’t forget the fact that the place where all this news swirls round is on social media, where the young people live. And 75% of them voted remain. In fact, that’s probably why we never saw it coming – because all we heard were young people talking about remain. The oldies were probably reading newspapers or something…

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  4. Hal_10000 *

    Good point.  I was blindsided a bit because my social media are mostly young and mostly scientists, who were voting Remain overwhelmingly.

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  5. AlexInCT

    Sounds like you guys all got had like the liberal New Yorker whose name escapses me that claimed they knew nobody that would vote for the other guy when he won the presidential election.

    My default position these days when it comes to the LSM is to immeidately assume that what they are saying is lies, and then doing additional research to confirm that. It is a rare moment when I find they acutally got the facts and the story right when things that the left don’t like or one of ther own is/are concerned.

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  6. Hal_10000 *

    ounds like you guys all got had like the liberal New Yorker whose name escapses me that claimed they knew nobody that would vote for the other guy when he won the presidential election.

    Pauline Kael

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