Friday, February 05, 2010

Liberal Smugness

Why are liberals so condescending?

It's an odd time for liberals to feel smug. But even with Democratic fortunes on the wane, leading liberals insist that they have almost nothing to learn from conservatives. Many Democrats describe their troubles simply as a PR challenge, a combination of conservative misinformation -- as when Obama charges that critics of health-care reform are peddling fake fears of a "Bolshevik plot" -- and the country's failure to grasp great liberal accomplishments. "We were so busy just getting stuff done . . . that I think we lost some of that sense of speaking directly to the American people about what their core values are," the president told ABC's George Stephanopoulos in a recent interview. The benighted public is either uncomprehending or deliberately misinformed (by conservatives).

This condescension is part of a liberal tradition that for generations has impoverished American debates over the economy, society and the functions of government -- and threatens to do so again today, when dialogue would be more valuable than ever.

A recent comment from Perry accused me of a simplistic thought process: conservative = good, liberal = bad. But, in fact, liberals tend to be the ones who think their ideological counterparts aren't simply misinformed or misguided but downright evil. Spend some time at Pandagon, Delaware Liberal, or reading the latest rant at Daily KOS and you'll see what I mean.

When KOS commissioned a poll, rather than reading the results, the KOS kids used it to provide more sound for the echo chamber that conservatives want to impeach Barack Obama, don't think he's American and are generally racist, homophobic, narrow-minded bigots. Never mind that the only way to come up with those results was to lump every "don't know" response in with the most negative one available.

As is a liberal's wont, Matthew Yglesias uses Gerard Alexander's observation for an "everybody's doing it" response.
have a condescending attitude toward this op-ed. Of course I think my views are correct and based on fact and reason. If I thought my views weren’t correct and based on fact and reason, I would adopt different views—correct fact-and-reason based ones. Does Alexander really think that conservatives don’t think their views are correct? Does Alexander not think his own views are correct? Not based on fact? Not based on reason? I’m not sure it’s possible to be condescending enough to this op-ed.

Of course, "believing one is right" doesn't necessarily equate with condescension, but how delicious is it that Yglesias displays the very attitude about which Alexander wrote in an attempt to be oh-so-clever?

Alexander's point (also expressed in today's Charles Krauthammer column is that liberals are incredibly condescending to their political opponents...and they have absolutely no reason to do so.

Let's face it. To liberals, voters are either evil or dupes. They are evil if they "manipulate" others to vote for Republican candidates and they are dupes if they actually do the voting. It's impossible for a smart person to actually believe any of the tenets of conservatism without being a heartless bastard bent on the destruction of women, homosexuals, black people, America and, quite possibly, the Constitution, law and order and apple pie.

The big difference between conservatives and liberals is that conservatives might consider liberals misguided, but at least they want to do the right thing. Liberals think no such thing. Well, except when President Barack Obama thinks he needs to talk down to the American people to make them understand why taking over 1/6 of the economy is for their own good. Whether they want him to or not.

We heard a lot last year about elections having consequences. This was supposed to be an explanation for the Democrat power-grab and determination to use a recession to cram through a lot of unpleasant (and unwanted) regulations, policies and liberal goals. Bizarrely, when people reject Democrats at the polls as they have for months, we aren't hearing anything at all about elections having consequences. Instead, all we hear is that Americans are just too stupid to know what's in their best interest. Condescension, indeed.