Here's a difference between Left and Right that is rarely noted despite the fact that it is at least as important as any other and even explains many of the other differences.
At the core of left-wing thought is a rejection of painful realities, the rejection of what the French call les faits de la vie : the facts of life. Conservatives, on the other hand, are all too aware of these painful realities of life and base many of their positions on them.
One such example was the subject of my first column on Left-Right differences: whether people are basically good. When liberals blame violent crime in America on poverty, one reason they do is that liberal beliefs since the Enlightenment have posited that human nature is good. Therefore, when people do truly bad things to other people, liberals believe that some outside force — usually poverty, racism and/or unemployment — must be responsible, not human nature.
Liberals find it too painful to look reality in the eye and acknowledge that human nature is deeply flawed. This is especially so because left-wing thought is rooted in secularism, and if you don't believe in God, you had better believe in humanity — or you will despair.
Another fact of life that the Left finds too painful to acknowledge is the existence of profound differences between men and women. There is no other explanation for the rejection of what has been obvious to essentially every man and woman in history. It is certainly not the result of scientific inquiry. The more science knows about the male and female brain, not to mention male and female hormones, the more it confirms important built-in differences between the sexes.
Why then would people actually believe that girls are as happy to play with trucks as are boys, and boys are as happy to play with dolls and tea sets as are girls?
Because acknowledging many of those differences is painful. For example, feminists and others on the Left do not want to acknowledge that sex between two people who are not committed to each other usually means much more to women than to men. It is too painful to acknowledge that men are far more capable of having anonymous, emotionally meaningless sex than women. Therefore, feminism has now taught two generations of women that they are just as capable of enjoying emotionless sex with many partners as are men.
That the great majority of women yearn to bond with a man — more than they yearn for professional success — is another fact of life that the Left wishes not to acknowledge. Thus, feminism posited the silly false motto, "A woman without a man is like a fish without a bicycle" — because the reality is that most women without a man feel a deep hole in their soul. And that is too painful to acknowledge. (This hole also exists in men, but most men have no trouble acknowledging it.)
The entire concept of "political correctness" emanates from the Left's incapacity to acknowledge painful truths. The very definition of "politically incorrect" is an idea or truth that people on the Left find too painful to acknowledge and therefore do not want expressed.
Why are so many young black males in prison? The reason is politically incorrect, meaning too painful for the Left to acknowledge: Black males commit a highly disproportionate amount of violent crime.
Why are there speech codes on virtually all college campuses? Because Leftists — who control most campuses — do not wish to hear discomforting facts or opinions with which they differ. That causes them pain.
That is the Left's own language. Leftists constantly speak about people being made "uncomfortable" and about feeling "offended" (conservatives almost never react to an idea with which they differ by saying, "I'm offended"). If a man has a "cheesecake" calendar hanging in his car repair shop, the Left regards him as having created a "hostile work environment" — meaning some women might find it painful to see a woman presented as a sexual object.
Avoiding pain at almost all costs is at the heart of left-wing ideas and policies. That's why kids can no longer run around during recess at so many American schools. They may get hurt. That's why child protective services take children away from parents who allow their children to walk home alone or even play alone in the family backyard for 90 minutes without a parent at home.
Or take the left-wing bumper sticker idea: "War Is Not the Answer." Of course, war is often the answer to great evil. Nazi death camps were liberated by soldiers fighting a war, not peace activists. But having to acknowledge the moral necessity of war is too painful a truth for many on the Left.
One might say Leftism appeals to those who wish to remain innocent children. Growing up and facing the fact that life is messy, difficult and painful is increasingly a conservative point of view.