Columnists, Featured, Jon Caldara, Legal, Politics

Caldara: Learning the language of other people’s politics

For attorneys to keep their license to practice law, they need to take Continuing Legal Education (CLE) classes, supposedly to keep their skills sharp and up to date.

But now in Colorado, as in many states, they must have a CLE class on equity, diversity and inclusion.

In other words, to continue to make a living they must be propagandized on victim celebration and pay for the privilege.

And I was privileged (or white-privileged) to speak.

Here’s a short synopsis on what I said on diversity.

Today’s Diversity Industrial Complex would have you believe diversity is defined by your skin pigment, to which God you pray, your genitals, what you think your genitals should be, and with whom you like to have sex.

I don’t think you are any of that. You are not your skin color.

Real diversity is what’s between your ears not your legs.

So, what’s between your ears? Your ideology. There are three ideological tribes and they each believe they are morally superior to the other two and thus speak a different language the other two can’t understand.

The best description of this phenomenon comes from the book, “The Three Languages of Politics,” by Arnold Kling.

These three political languages are progressive, conservative and libertarian.

We libertarians (small “L”) see the world on an axis of coercion versus liberty. Our heroes are the people who fight for individual rights. We can’t stand people who use government to take anyone’s right to make their own decisions.

Progressives see the world on an axis of oppressors versus the oppressed. Their heroes fight for the underprivileged and for the equality of outcome. They hate people who are indifferent to the oppression of minorities.

Conservatives see the world on an axis of barbarism versus civilization. Their heroes stand up for Western Values. They hate those who endanger the traditional virtues and moral institutions that founded our civilization.

Libertarians want taxes low, just enough to cover the core functions of government. Progressives want a progressive tax system that punishes the rich to give to the poor. Conservatives want low taxes but in a way that promotes virtuous behavior — tax incentive for marriage and deductions for churches, higher taxes on smoking and gambling.

On recreational drugs, libertarians — leave my body alone. Progressives — drug laws institutionally oppress people of color. Conservatives — drugs destroy lives and rip families apart.

Immigration: Libertarian — it’s the welfare state not the state of immigration. Progressive — no person is illegal; equity demands we house and feed them. Conservative — learn to speak English, come in legally, carry your own weight, wave the American flag not the Mexican, and we can talk.

LGBT issues: Libertarian — fine, think you’re the opposite sex, but don’t dare tell me how to speak. Progressive — if you don’t call that person with the penis a woman, you’re a racist. Conservative — stop teaching this nonsense to little kids, it’s hurting families.

We could go on issue after issue.

We all belong to certain tribes. There are sizable evolutionary reasons for this for our self-preservation. And to identify fellow members of our tribe we evolved to send and receive signals to recognize whom we can trust.

The words we use are today’s signal. Illegal/undocumented. Black/person of color. Homeless/ person currently experiencing homelessness. Tax increase/investment.

Stephen Covey in his famous book “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” had a habit — seek first to understand, then seek to be understood. Maybe if you had a debate class back in college, the professor would make you debate the side you did NOT agree with. You had to understand it in the way your opponents do.

Sadly, we rarely do this in politics. But what if we did?

So, here’s the exercise.

Next time you have that familiar knee jerk feeling to a news item take three minutes (just three and you don’t have to tell anyone you’re doing it) and express what you’re feeling by employing the other two languages as if you’re talking to them.

Think of it as Rosetta Stone for politics.

Jon Caldara is president of the Independence Institute, a free market think tank in Denver.

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