View Full Version : Why are liberals so condescending?

02-05-2010, 05:40 PM
Why are liberals so condescending?

By Gerard Alexander
Sunday, February 7, 2010; B01

Every political community includes some members who insist that their side has all the answers and that their adversaries are idiots. But American liberals, to a degree far surpassing conservatives, appear committed to the proposition that their views are correct, self-evident, and based on fact and reason, while conservative positions are not just wrong but illegitimate, ideological and unworthy of serious consideration. Indeed, all the appeals to bipartisanship notwithstanding, President Obama and other leading liberal voices have joined in a chorus of intellectual condescension.

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.

Liberals have dismissed conservative thinking for decades, a tendency encapsulated by Lionel Trilling's 1950 remark that conservatives do not "express themselves in ideas but only in action or in irritable mental gestures which seek to resemble ideas." During the 1950s and '60s, liberals trivialized the nascent conservative movement. Prominent studies and journalistic accounts of right-wing politics at the time stressed paranoia, intolerance and insecurity, rendering conservative thought more a psychiatric disorder than a rival. In 1962, Richard Hofstadter referred to "the Manichaean style of thought, the apocalyptic tendencies, the love of mystification, the intolerance of compromise that are observable in the right-wing mind."

This sense of liberal intellectual superiority dropped off during the economic woes of the 1970s and the Reagan boom of the 1980s. (Jimmy Carter's presidency, buffeted by economic and national security challenges, generated perhaps the clearest episode of liberal self-doubt.) But these days, liberal confidence and its companion disdain for conservative thinking are back with a vengeance, finding energetic expression in politicians' speeches, top-selling books, historical works and the blogosphere. This attitude comes in the form of four major narratives about who conservatives are and how they think and function.

Excellent. Read the whole thing.

Wa Po (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/02/04/AR2010020403698_pf.html)

02-05-2010, 06:00 PM
Indeed. Thanks for sharing that, Ginger.

02-05-2010, 06:24 PM
Because they are better than everyone else. Don't believe me? Just ask 'em.

Constitutionally Speaking
02-05-2010, 09:21 PM
Very good article. Liberals would do well to read it and actually think on the ideas expressed.

02-05-2010, 09:26 PM
Very good article. Liberals would do well to read it and actually think on the ideas expressed.

LOL! Sorry. :D

02-05-2010, 09:32 PM
Just to play Devils Advocate here...

But couldn't we just take that entire thing, and swap all instances of Liberal and Conservative?

02-05-2010, 09:51 PM
Just to play Devils Advocate here...

But couldn't we just take that entire thing, and swap all instances of Liberal and Conservative?

We could in terms of basic finger-pointing. Both conservatives and liberals believe that the other side is motivated by emotion.

Few conservatives attribute liberal successes to a "vast left-wing conspiracy". While conservatives can rightly point to the uniformity of political view demonstrated in higher ed, the MSM, and among union members, we don't see this as a unified conspiracy. It's a side-effect of corporate culture.

Conservatives by and large really do live in a color-blind society. Even sites like V-Dare don't see liberal policy efforts as a brown/black versus white issue. They see it as a political correctness issue. Liberals tend to frame many social issues as racial issues. In some ways, the average middle class white liberal is much more sensitized and aware of racial matters than the average working class non-white Independent or non-voter.

Mostly telling is the conservative versus liberal attitude toward "the people". Liberals often believe that conservatives are simply too stupid to vote their own best interests. We simply lack the intellectual or educational resources to safeguard our own lives. Conservatives believe that a lot of people can take care of themselves politically and that some people sensibly do vote for their own best interests even if doing so will wreck the country in the long run.

02-05-2010, 10:09 PM
Liberals firmly believe that their policies will be historical if enacted. They have said as much on several occasions regarding health care reform.

What they don't realize is that a great many "historical" decisions have been made over the centuries having horrible consequences. But they are true believers. Health care reform, as written, would be devastating to the best, most advanced system in the world. But the "fairness" of covering everyone, of control of the delivery system by government blinds them.

In other words, they are delusional.