Smug liberals – Part 2

Not my president: 20 pictures that show how angry America is at Donald Trump  | The Independent | The Independent

Previously, Part 1.

Next, Part 2:


Kate Bedingfield, communications director for Joe Biden’s campaign, defended Jen O’Malley Dillon, his pick for White House deputy chief of staff, after she let loose during an interview and called Republicans a bunch of “f**kers.”

O’Malley Dillon said she is willing to work with Republicans and make compromises, but that does not mean she has to like them.

“In the primary, people would mock him, like, ‘You think you can work with Republicans?’ I’m not saying they’re not a bunch of f**kers.”

Bedingfield then tweeted  “So @jomalleydillon would be the first to tell you her mom doesn’t approve of the spicy language, but I would be the first to tell you that the point she was making in this conversation with @GlennonDoyle is spot on (Republicans are “f***ers) and unity and healing are possible — and we can get things done.”

From blogger John Hawkins years ago:

Liberalism has turned into an extraordinarily harsh, divisive, angry ideology: As a political philosophy, liberalism is centered around hatred and divisiveness. Liberals don’t promote their ideas so much as they try to turn people against those who get in the way of their ideas.

Liberals lie to minorities and tell them that conservatives hate them, they tell women that men hate them, they tell the poor they should hate the rich. They try to pit the successful against the unsuccessful, the workers against the corporations — and they regularly talk about their own country like it is one of the most godawful places on earth. That means liberals are, at best, extraordinarily cynical people who’re willing to manipulate people for political gain — and at worst, it means that they believe all this nonsense, which would make the world seem to be a very unpleasant place indeed. If you spend your life seething over a litany of grievances you’ve created from scratch in your own head, then you’re probably going to be an Eeyore instead of floating on Cloud 9.

Liberals are a braggadocios bunch. They are the warmest, most loving, inclusive, intelligent individuals walking the planet. So they’ll say. Fake news. They’re anything but.

I live in Franklin where my state Senate district had an open seat up for election last month. The Democratic candidate, Adam Murphy, got outed for a 2019 Facebook post where he admitted being  “racist, sexist, ageist.”

“My friends are predominantly white, and I would be lying if I said my pulse doesn’t quicken or my sense of awareness doesn’t increase when I’m in a minority neighborhood, or a group of black kids or Hispanic kids walk past me in the mall. Do I tug my coat a little tighter? I do.”

Once exposed, Murphy wore his disgust on his sleeve, craving attention with each media opportunity. He lost his posterior in the election.

The inspiration for this brief series of blogs came when I stumbled across an in-depth essay in Vox, not exactly a conservative publication.

Of all the negative adjectives that Vox could have lasered in on it when it comes to the not so nice liberals, Vox went with “smug”: conceited, egotistical, pompous, stuck-up, vain.

A few months ago I came across a 2016 Vox essay where the writer’s assessments are still accurate today. It’s quite lengthy. I’ve edited it down and I think you’ll find it quite insightful.

There is a smug style in American liberalism. It has been growing these past decades. It is a way of conducting politics, predicated on the belief that American life is not divided by moral difference or policy divergence — not really — but by the failure of half the country to know what’s good for them.

In 2016, the smug style has found expression in media and in policy, in the attitudes of liberals both visible and private, providing a foundational set of assumptions above which a great number of liberals comport their understanding of the world.

It has led an American ideology hitherto responsible for a great share of the good accomplished over the past century of our political life to a posture of reaction and disrespect: a condescending, defensive sneer toward any person or movement outside of its consensus, dressed up as a monopoly on reason.

The consequence was a shift in liberalism’s intellectual center of gravity. A movement once fleshed out in union halls and little magazines shifted into universities and major press, from the center of the country to its cities and elite enclaves. Minority voters remained, but bereft of the material and social capital required to dominate elite decision-making, they were largely excluded from an agenda driven by the new Democratic core: the educated, the coastal, and the professional.

The trouble is that stupid hicks don’t know what’s good for them. They’re getting conned by right-wingers and tent revivalists until they believe all the lies that’ve made them so wrong. They don’t know any better. That’s why they’re voting against their own self-interest.

As anybody who has gone through a particularly nasty breakup knows, disdain cultivated in the aftermath of a divide quickly exceeds the original grievance. You lose somebody. You blame them. Soon, the blame is reason enough to keep them at a distance, the excuse to drive them even further away.

Finding comfort in the notion that their former allies were disdainful, hapless rubes, smug liberals created a culture animated by that contempt. The result is a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Financial incentive compounded this tendency — there is money, after all, in reassuring the bitter. Over 20 years, an industry arose to cater to the smug style. It began in humor, and culminated for a time in The Daily Show, a program that more than any other thing advanced the idea that liberal orthodoxy was a kind of educated savvy and that its opponents were, before anything else, stupid. The smug liberal found relief in ridiculing them.

The smug style created a feedback loop. If the trouble with conservatives was ignorance, then the liberal impulse was to correct it. When such corrections failed, disdain followed after it.

The smug mind defends itself against these charges. Oh, we’re just having fun, it says. We don’t mean itThis is just for a laugh, it’s just a joke, stop being so humorless.

It is exasperating, after all, to have to live in a country where so many people are so aggressively wrong about so much, they say. You go on about ideology and shibboleths and knowing, but we are right on the issues, aren’t we? We are right on social policy and right on foreign policy and right on evolution, and same-sex marriage, and climate change too. Surely that’s what matters.

We don’t really mean they’re all stupid — but hey, lay off. We’re not smug! This is just how we vent our frustration. Otherwise it would be too depressing having to share a country with these people!

If any single event provided the direct impetus for this essay, it was a running argument I had with an older, liberal writer over the seriousness of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign. Since June 2015, when Trump announced his candidacy, this writer has taken it upon himself each day to tell his Facebook followers that Donald Trump is a bad kind of dude.

“Ridicule is the most powerful weapon we have against any of our enemies,” he told me in the end, “but especially against the ones who, not incorrectly, take it so personally and lash out in ways that shine klieg lights on those very flaws we detest.

“If you’re laughing at someone, you’re certainly not respecting him.”

“Anyway,” he went on, “I’m done talking to you. We see the world differently. I’m fine with that. We don’t need to be friends.”

Nothing is more confounding to the smug style than the fact that the average Republican is better educated and has a higher IQ than the average Democrat. That for every overpowered study finding superior liberal open-mindedness and intellect and knowledge, there is one to suggest that Republicans have the better of these qualities.

This is not a call for civility. Manners are not enough. The smug style did not arise by accident, and it cannot be abolished with a little self-reproach. So long as liberals cannot find common cause with the larger section of the American working class, they will search for reasons to justify that failure. They will resent them. They will find, over and over, how easy it is to justify abandoning them further.  They will choose the smug style.

Emmett Rensin is deputy First Person editor at Vox.

The smug style in American liberalism, April 21, 2016

3 thoughts on “Smug liberals – Part 2

  1. Pingback: FLASHBACK: The smug style in American liberalism | This Just In… From Franklin, WI

  2. Pingback: Today’s highly interesting read (05/20/21): The Myth About Left Wing Love of the Poor | This Just In… From Franklin, WI

  3. Pingback: Today’s highly interesting read (10/12/21): Let’s Just Call It a Day Already | This Just In… From Franklin, WI

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