Ugh! Another populist is angry at George Will for calling them a cult. Really? Can we not leave this shit in 2019?
For those who don’t know what I’m talking about, Senator Josh Hawley more or less just realized a hit piece against George Will — someone who, for the record, I still don’t even like — for The Federalist. In July of last year, I went after the magazine First Things for writing a piece against Will, again, not because I like Will, but because the article was garbage.
So is this article any better?
Statistics tell us we face an epidemic of loneliness
Well what do you think?
First, I should note that this article is a response to a recent column by Will in The Washington Post. I mention this because, regardless of where you stand, Will and Hawley write in very different styles.
Will goes on long rants filled with source after source to back up his arguments. Hawley just repeats his first claim and pretends no one can come up with a response — even if he’s defending himself from a response to the argument he’s still using. Hence why the vast majority of points he makes in his article are points Will did a pretty okay job debunking in the article Hawley is responding to.
That is, when he’s not just attacking Will for daring to disagree with him:
Will’s fulminations are typical of a certain set of Clinton and Bush-era commentators who call themselves “conservative” but sound more like a cartoon version of libertarianism.
Hey! I represent that!
But seriously, you know those stereotypical online fans who post comments filled with glee when someone mocks the people they hate and yet scream when those same people go after them?That’s what every article about George Will feels likes.
Hawley doesn’t even try and do an “old vs. new” like First Things did. Maybe catch George Will in a contradiction and have classic Will go up against modern Will. No, instead we’re just told he use to be more populist —back when government did much less, but you know — and not given any kind of evidence for that.
Hey, let’s look at how Hawley refuses to address his key points when called out on them. Here’s a section from Will’s article:
Hawley calls it “unjust that the global economy” works “for so few.” Actually, for a few billion people. Globally, 42 percent of the world’s population lived in extreme poverty in 1981; by 2015, just 10 percent did. In America, the Economist reports, after adjusting for taxes and government transfer payments, since 2000 the share of national income of the top 1 percent “has been volatile around a flat trend” and perhaps has changed little since 1960. Among the poor, falling marriage rates, which have causes more complex than economics, indicate household incomes declining but not individuals’ incomes. Furthermore, statistics often do not reflect the portion of corporate profits that flow to the middle class through pension funds: “In 1960 retirement accounts owned just 4% of American shares; by 2015 the figure was 50%.” And the Economist also says:
“If you argue that [household] income has shrunk you also have to claim that four decades’ worth of innovation in goods and services, from mobile phones and video streaming to cholesterol-lowering statins, have not improved middle-earners’ lives. That is simply not credible.”
Oh man, that’s a spicy point about how our lives are improved by the same policies working man lover Josh Hawley never stops talking about the evils of. How does he respond? By moving the goalpost. Now, despite much of Hawley’s crusade being economic in nature, as I have pointed out a number of times, he has now moved his mission to the metaphysical where he has a much stronger case.
Now it’s the government’s job to make sure all of us are happy 24/7. Question, if that’s the end goal, why not just hand out free heroine?
But don’t worry, the Senator does cite openly communist author John Steinbeck, so I guess it all works out. You know, for such a traditional conservative you think he’d be calling for schools and public libraries to stop holding the works of communists — as the often did back when HUAC was still a thing and even well past the end of the McCarthy era. Don’t get me wrong, I’d be very much against that. However, unless Hawley wants to call a man who defended Stalin a traditional conservative and especially when four Republican congress members calling for Barr to crack down on porn — glass houses is all I’m saying.
Let’s talk about Edmund Burke, the man who Hawley loves to 1st commandment violating levels. Here’s how Hawley describes his ideology:
Burke understood that individual freedom is formed by culture and community, and you have to work to defend both. The “little platoons,” Burke said — home and church, school and neighborhood — are where we grow, where we learn to love, where we find the strength and support to make something of our lives. And they are where we forge the common bonds that sustain our national sense of purpose.
Okay, maybe it is true that these things are important — hell, in Burke’s time the case was almost inescapably accurate. Although, as the internet age has gone on I would argue the idea of local central communities is going on the window — and not always for bad reason. If someone has an unusual interest that no one else around town shares, of course it makes sense they’d want to hang out with like minded individuals, and I don’t see an issue with that just because of the medium being used.
And I still have not heard the answer to this basic question, why is it the job of the economy or the government to support these things? Why should the government be forced to fund what gives me “purpose”? What is purpose, by the way? This is the speech of the populist, just use as many vague words as possible that sound positive and hope nobody notices they don’t mean anything.
You might notice I’m not quoting nearly as much as I’ve done in other article critiques, there’s a reason for this. Hawley refuses to make any kind of argument he hasn’t made before throughout this entire post. Instead, anything of substance he mentions tends to be a large statement he refuses to back up.
Take this whopper, fries, and coke meal of a claim:
Statistics tell us we face an epidemic of loneliness and isolation across all segments of our society. Deaths of despair are soaring. Suicides, drug overdoses, and alcoholism together claim more lives now than ever in our history. And Americans’ participation in civic groups and social gatherings continues to decline, even as whole neighborhoods and towns wither.
(I still have no idea what a “death of despair” is, by the way.)
Of all of the claims made in this paragraph, Hawley does not link to a source for a single one. Despite this being evidence that, if true, could destroy the points about “individualism” us silly libertarians make — I mean, not really because libertarianism is about philosophy and the numbers are a nice backup, but he doesn’t know that.
And that’s ignoring the fact that a free society will have to accept the risks of some of these things just happening every now and again. Sure, Josh and his ilk can bleed about a metaphysical concept of freedom, but that has the same issue of freedom only being able to exist while you’re controlled — it’s an unironic freedom is slavery.
I myself can’t be bothered to write anything even the slightest bit substantive about this article for any longer because their is just nothing there. Reading Hawley is like having your brain drained — and I must stop now before I become a zombie.