Day By Day

Sunday, February 07, 2010

The Lies Liberals Tell Themselves

Gerard Alexander has a nice piece in the WaPo in which he analyzes the self-congratulatory narratives liberals tell themselves to demean and delegitimize conservatives. He identifies four mutually supporting explanatory narratives:
The belief in a "vast right wing conspiracy" funded and directed by "corporate interests".

Ordinary Americans are stupid and ignorant, unable to discern objective truth, and therefore easily manipulated by dishonest corporate conspirators.

Ordinary Americans are racist bigots whose fear and hatred of "the other" makes them easy dupes for unscrupulous politicians.

Conservatives are driven by their emotions, most prominently fear of change. This fear makes them impervious to logic and reason.
Read the whole thing here.

The ubiquity of these themes in liberal discourse, the ease with which they are deployed in front of sympathetic audiences, and their frequent use as explanatory factors in academic works indicates that, against all evidence to the contrary, liberals and leftists of all stripes have internalized and deeply believe them. It makes sense that they should do so. These narratives serve to delegitimize any criticism of liberal values, programs and arguments and cast progressives in the role of rational, sensible people opposed by the forces of misrule and unreason. But, as Alexander points out, these personally and politically supportive narratives impoverish and stultify important policy debates because they imbue liberals with a false confidence in the rightness of their positions and lead them to disregard legitimate criticism.

There are serious debates that, for the good of the country, should be conducted fully and honestly, but all too often they are not because liberals, smug in their self-regard and contemptuous of their critics, refuse to take seriously any opposition. For the sake of the country these liberal myths must be exposed. Alexander's article, appearing in a liberal organ, is a good first step.