Perhaps the website Dictionary.com best captures the meaning of the term ‘common sense,’ which they define as: “sound practical judgment that is independent of specialized knowledge, training, or the like.” A solid assessment of a not-so-easily-defined expression. Therefore, if we use sound practical judgment in examining the accusations and behaviors of our friends on the left, and if we do so without applying any specialized knowledge, we can only conclude: the left either doesn’t understand what common sense is, or they’re intentionally trying to distort it.
The Greek philosopher Aristotle was one of the first to examine the notion of common sense. Two-thousand years later, American revolutionary, patriot and pamphleteer Thomas Paine updated the concept in applying it to our breaking of ties with Great Britain. Generally speaking, invoking the legacies of Paine and other great thinkers of the American Revolution is not only proper, it’s to be applauded; regardless of one’s politics. But when Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD) quoted Paine’s famous pamphlet Common Sense during last week’s Impeachment Trial of former President Donald Trump, we could only shake our heads and wonder: Were Raskin and other Democrats absent from school the day that common sense was explained?
Rep. Jamie Raskin’s Misuse of Common Sense
An increasingly frequent method the left uses in their effort to persuade us is to point to science and common sense. But in both cases, their arguments are often in direct conflict with the reasoning they cite. They’ll preach “follow the science,” when their evidence is entirely anti-scientific. And they’ll demand “use your common sense,” when their points are nonsensical.
Last week’s example from Rep. Raskin is one of the more obvious incidents for us to consider. Concluding that Donald Trump was guilty of the impeachment charge and thereby worthy of conviction may be a lot of things, but common sense isn’t one of them.
Raskin’s specific suggestion to senators considering the merits of his arguments was, “Senators, I’ve talked a lot about common sense in this trial because I think, I believe that’s all you need to arrive at the right answer,” and that right answer according Raskin was a vote to convict Trump, of course. The article of impeachment with which Trump was charged was specific: Trump was accused of “incitement of insurrection.” Therefore, let’s use our sound practical judgment, and let’s put aside any specialized knowledge, in evaluating the impeachment’s validity.
If Trump was truly attempting to overthrow the federal government two weeks before leaving office, which is what “insurrection” implies, would he have done so with a group of relatively untrained and lightly-armed civilians, or would he have instead tried to convince generals, admirals and other leaders of the world’s greatest military to support his rebellion?
If Trump was indeed intent on seizing permanent power, would he have made such an open speech the day of the Capitol Riot imploring attendees to “peacefully and patriotically make your voices heard,” or would he have been more covert and encouraged a blatantly violent approach?
And if Trump’s ultimate goal was to bring down our government for his own benefit, would he have attempted to achieve that goal with a haphazard and disorganized assault – whose participants seemed more concerned with capturing the events on their I-phones – or would he have used a more methodical, precise, and militaristic approach?
Say what you want about Donald J. Trump, but the man is clever. Common sense tells us that Trump had no intention of a coup d’état, because such an attempt would have looked dramatically different. Common sense tells us that Donald Trump was fired up due to various voting irregularities during the election and voter fraud, and he engaged in rhetoric typical of today’s political leaders, including words such as “fight.” And common sense tells that anyone trying to claim differently is doing so for purely political reasons, and nothing more. Now, that’s common sense.
Dr. Fauci, Rep. Ilhan Omar, and President Biden’s Misuse of Common Sense
While Rep. Raskin’s appeal for a perversion of common sense enjoyed significant air time and attention, many others on the left have acted similarly with somewhat less fanfare. We need not look any further for such evidence than the secular saint of America’s left: Dr. Anthony Fauci.
Shortly after the inauguration of President Joe Biden last month – and only a few days after describing the shedding of accountability due to the exit of former President Trump as “liberating” – Fauci began advocating for all Americans to wear not one, but two masks to protect ourselves against COVID. “If you have a physical covering with one layer, you put another layer on,” Fauci explained, “it just makes common sense that it likely would be more effective.”
In reality, common sense dictates that we be skeptical of anything Dr. Fauci tells us. A year ago when the potential threat of COVID began to take shape, many of us thought that wearing a mask to protect ourselves made common sense. But Dr. Fauci advised us not to wear masks. Fauci later changed his tune by recommending mask-wearing, and then amplified that tune with alarmism by suggesting that failing to wear masks would be endangering the lives of elderly loved ones. Dr. Fauci is not one to be lecturing anyone on common sense.
Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) also shows either a fundamental misunderstanding of common sense or a propensity to twist it. In making an appeal for one of the left’s favorite issues last August, Omar tweeted, “Canceling student debt shouldn’t be controversial,” and then called it a “common sense value.” Making taxpayers pick up the tab for debt that has been willingly incurred by others is anything but common sense. Insisting on individuals taking responsibility for their actions, including the taking on of debt due to student loans or any other types of loans, however, is absolutely common sense.
And let’s not forget President Biden. Last September, during a brief emergence from hiding in his basement in Delaware, Biden suggested, “We need straightforward, common-sense solutions” regarding opening schools amid the ongoing pandemic. Biden had a good point, of course. But here we are, almost a month into his presidency, yet those solutions are nowhere to be seen. Biden continues to tremble in fear of the teachers’ unions, and has yet to take any actions to address the issue. Where’s that common sense, Mr. President?
If we use that sound practical judgment as required in exercising our common sense, and if we use it to compare the actions and rhetoric and Fauci, Omar, and Biden, we deduce the following: the trio either doesn’t grasp the meaning of common sense or they are purposefully trying to warp it.
Leftist Culture’s Misuse of Common Sense
Nowhere is the bastardization of the term more evident than in leftist culture.
Last November, leftwing media darling Don Lemon was making the case on Twitter for his followers to join him in singing the praises of Democratic New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and his handling of the COVID pandemic. Lemon cheered Cuomo with #CommonSense, and pointed out that New York had had “the highest positivity rate in the nation at the peak of this crisis — now we have the third-lowest.” Three months later, New York still has the second-highest number of deaths-per-million of any state in the nation with 2,374/million, and Governor Cuomo has a full-blown scandal on his hands for his deception of Department of Justice investigators looking into COVID nursing home deaths. Cuomo could conceivably wind up in prison.
Common sense would have demanded that Lemon not engage in extolling the virtues of a governor with indisputably horrendous statistical results. Common sense informed anyone paying attention that Cuomo was obviously hiding statistics regarding nursing homes. And common sense told us that the media’s love affair with Cuomo was politically driven and had nothing to do with governance.
Rolling Stone magazine, a users’ manual for many on the left, came to the defense of the estimable Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) not long ago. The congresswoman’s calls for universal healthcare, fully funded public universities, and federal job guarantees were all described by Rolling Stone as “common sense measures.” In other words, Socialism is common sense for Rolling Stone.
But perhaps nothing exemplifies the utter ignorance and/or misrepresentation of common sense by the left better than a simple headline from the geniuses at CNN. Last July, in the lead up to the election, CNN ran this masterpiece, “Fact checking Barr’s claim that it’s ‘common sense’ that foreign countries will counterfeit mail-in ballots.” In the small minds of the would-be journalists at CNN, someone who uses the term as they describe their assessment of a situation can be fact-checked. Because CNN and the rest of the left believe they know better than everyone else, and they are singularly qualified to be the arbiters of truth and common sense. If common sense could indeed be fact-checked, CNN and the rest of the left and their media would be in deep trouble.
What Our Country Needs is True Common Sense
When we use sound practical judgment as required in considering the left’s misuse of the term ‘common sense,’ and if we refrain from the use of any specialized knowledge with that consideration, we will likely determine that it’s not merely ignorance driving their misuse. Their motives are more sinister, and the purpose of their misuse seems clear: to exploit the naiveté of the inattentive to convince them that their ideas are mainstream. “It’s obvious our ideas are the proper ones,” they would have us believe. “It’s common sense.”
The left is correct about one point with this matter, however. Common sense is valuable, much-needed, and should be relied upon.
Defunding police departments in the fight against the imaginary foe of systemic racism is a bad idea; that’s common sense. Throwing money at every problem we have without any concern of increasing our national debt is a bad idea; that’s common sense. Permitting babies to be killed in their mothers wombs and insisting taxpayers foot the bill is an evil idea; that’s common sense. And trying to corrupt our language by labeling absurd ideas as common sense must be rejected; that’s common sense.
P.F. Whalen is a conservative blogger at TheBlueStateConservative.com. His work has appeared in multiple publications, including the Western Journal, Human Events, and American Thinker. Follow him on Parler @PFWhalen.