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The ‘We’re Smart, You’re Dumb’ Principle

David Gelernter is professor of computer science at Yale University and a senior fellow in Jewish thought at the Shalem Center, Jerusalem.

Who could possibly be against cutting voter fraud on election day? You’d have to be some sort of fruitcake. But when Georgia’s Republican Gov. Sonny Perdue recently signed a bill to reduce voter fraud, under which voters must show a photo ID before casting their ballots, many of Georgia’s black legislators stormed out in protest. They even threatened to sue. The new process is simple, easy and fairly effective, but Democrats alleged that it would reduce voting by minorities, the elderly and the poor. So black legislators had to oppose it.

For legislators to announce that getting a photo ID is too tricky for their constituents is downright amazing. Wouldn’t you expect those constituents to say, “Drop dead! Stop treating us like morons!”?

After all, any 15-year-old half-wit can get a photo ID -- and the governor is promising to hand them out gratis to voters who don’t already have one. All you need to do is show up in the right place at the right time -- which is just what you have to do in order to vote. (Unless you vote absentee, which will still be allowed under the new law.) In short: If you can vote, you can get a photo ID. So there’s no reason why a single legitimate voter should be excluded.

Lots of Georgia Democrats are outraged anyway. As Michelle Malkin points out on her blog, those outraged Democrats are treating their constituents like children. But actually the episode points to a bigger, deeper, uglier truth: Democrats habitually treat Americans like children.

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That’s the whole basis of Democratic philosophy (I use the term loosely). We’ll take care of you. Leave the thinking to us. Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid, minority leaders of the House and Senate, respectively, -- kindly Mom and Pop to a nation of intellectually limited youngsters. (But thank goodness, they love us anyway.)

How could anyone be opposed in principle to private investment accounts within Social Security? I could understand Democrats arguing that “private accounts are a wonderful idea but the country can’t afford the transition costs right now.” But mostly I hear Democrats saying they’re a lousy idea, and that President Bush wants to wreck Social Security -- because, after all, he wants to let you keep a great big whopping 4% of your payroll taxes in a private account instead of handing over every cent to the government. How on Earth could anyone be opposed in principle to letting taxpayers manage a minuscule fraction of their own money (their own money, dammit!) if they want to? Because private accounts violate the Infantile American Principle, so dear to Democratic hearts. Little kids should turn over their cash to the Big Smart Government for safekeeping.

But of course they can’t say that, so instead they say, “Bush wants to privatize Social Security” -- as if government were going to wash its hands of the whole mess. The technical term that logicians use for this rhetorical gambit -- applying a correct word for one part of a proposal to the proposal as a whole -- is “lying.”

Here’s another one: How could anyone be opposed to school vouchers? Vouchers let you decide where to spend tax money to educate your children. You give the voucher to any public or private school; it’s your call. But Democrats worry that (among other things) too many parents will spend their vouchers at a local Obedience School for Little Nazis or the neighborhood Witchcraft Academy. That’s what they think of their fellow citizens. That’s what they think of you!

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Now some readers will say, hold on, be fair! Democrats only oppose vouchers because the teachers unions ordered them to. Agreed, teachers unions are a big factor in every major decision a good Democrat makes, starting with what cereal to have for breakfast. But Democrats also oppose vouchers out of honest conviction. They are honestly convinced that ordinary Americans don’t have the brains to choose a school for their own kids.

Advanced Democrats are now revving up to make sure you eat your vegetables and steer clear of those nasty French fries. Why is it their business? Because Democrats are professors in disguise. Scratch a Democrat, find a professor.

It all goes back to central planning, socialism, Marxism -- let the experts run the economy; free markets are too democratic and messy. Many professors believed in Marxism right up to the point where Communist China itself bailed out in disgust.

Professors see the world in terms of experts and students: “We are smart; you are dumb.” That’s the Infantile American Principle in a nutshell. Now go play with your toys and don’t bother me.


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