Trite Makes Right: A guide to conservative clichĂ©s
In his new book, The Tyranny of ClichĂ©s: How Liberals Cheat in the War of Ideas, Jonah Goldberg argues that liberals âadvance ideological agendas that would expand and enhance the Stateâs mastery over our livesâ by parroting hoary maxims and phrases. That bit alleging subjugation by the capital-S State is right-wing cant, but Goldbergâs accusation that liberals often spout clichĂ©s is so unchallengeable that I marvel he got a whole book out of it. Yet Goldberg wonât admit that conservatives often do the same. âI do not claim that the conservative mind isnât bound by clichĂ©s from time to time,â Goldberg concedes in his introductory chapter (italics mine). But they donât do it as much as liberals, because conservatives âmake our arguments more openly.â In effect, Goldberg is arguing that liberals are more smug, and, since clichĂ©s are the lingua franca of smug people, liberals spout them more. You donât have to be liberal to find such reasoning a bit âŠ smug.
In fact, conservatives are no less inclined to peddle clichĂ©s than liberals are. In 24 chapters, Goldberg cites about as many liberal clichĂ©s, from âslippery slopeâ to âliving constitutionâ to âviolence never solves anything.â With the help of assorted colleagues, friends, social-media followers, and Google, Iâve compiled my own list of conservative clichĂ©s. Itâs shorter (I have only one page to Goldbergâs 280) but a much better value. Where Goldbergâs compilation will set you back $27.95, I offer mine at the low, low NEW REPUBLIC cover price of $4.95 (gratis, if you happen to read this online or if you bought the paper edition to read something else).
Let us proceed.