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You will believe in the left-wing orthodoxy, and you will like it
Banks announce they will not lend money to people who deal in firearms. A major fundraising web site refuses to host campaigns for the targets of ideological harassment. A U.S. senator openly threatens to go after global warming skeptics using a law that was passed to take down the mafia. Governors veto laws designed to protect religious freedom after receiving threats from organizations like the National Football League. And of course, conservative organizations endure harassment from the IRS.
No one has passed a law banning you from owning guns, disblieving global warming, opposing gay marriage or being a conservative activist. They don't need to. All they have to do is use the mechanisms of government, politics and public opinion to pressure you, investigate you, threaten litigation against you or otherwise complicate your life. And if you want to put a stop to it, all you have to do is stop opposing their agenda.
This is one of the reasons big government is such a big problem. Once government has its tentacles in enough aspects of American life, the left doesn't even have to persuade people to believe its arguments. It just has to sick the government on those who dare remain so insolent as to disagree with them - and say so publicly.
It's become standard operating procedure for those who know they can't really win arguments on the merits. They're much better at threats and pressure than they are at persuasion, so they go with their strength. If they can silence you via the regulatory state, why not? The EPA, the NLRB, the IRS and the DOJ can all make your lives miserable simply by launching investigations. Or maybe they can use the courts to shut you down. A lawsuit doesn't have to have a chance of success to cause you problems. It just has to force you to spend money on attorney fees, discovery compliance and all kinds of other things that throw your life into chaos.
We're talking about the expert use of fear and intimidation by people who can't get what they want any other way. Consider the recent examples of religious freedom laws that bit the dust in Indiana and Georgia. In each case, massive threats were leveled against the states in question. Apple said it would not do business in Indiana if the law remained in place. In my home state of Georgia, which has a burgeoning film industry, more than 30 A-list actors said they would never work on projects here if the law was passed. The NFL threatened not to bring the Super Bowl here.
This is why neither state has a religious freedom law - not because anyone made a persuasive case against it on the merits, but because threats and intimidation ruled the day. And whether this behavior is undertaken via the abuse of government power or the use of intimidation by private individuals or organizations, the media can usually be relied upon to act as the cheering section for the threateners and intimidators.
So what do we do about this? You might argue that those on the right have to fight fire with fire - that we support our own and stop doing business with those on the left. This is tempting but there's a problem with it. The crux of free-market capitalism is that rational people make economic decisions that are in their own best interests - that we buy the products that make sense for us at a price that makes sense for us. If we start making our individual economic decisions political, we're not really practicing capitlalism, and we might be diluting our own economic power.
Ultimately I don't think we win this argument until we do two things: 1. Wrest control of government away from the left (and once we do, needless to say, don't abuse it for our own purposes); and 2. Start winning this argument in the minds of the public. In recent years the right hasn't done a very good job of either, and that's why you see all these things taking place.
Take the NFL, for example. I don't think the NFL cares one way or another about gay marriage, but they do care about not being harassed by activists. When the activists in question are winning the public debate, they can harass with impunity and the targets of their harassment will quickly surrender. We change that dynamic by starting to win the argument, and we have to do a better job of that than we're doing now.
But conservatives should know that this is the left's favored method for getting what it wants. They don't even care if you agree with them. They just want you to know they'll make your life hell if you don't go along. If we could find a few rational people who were willing to respond to their threats by telling them to go pound sand, that would be a good start.
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