The Washington Post recently published a story by Gerard Alexander entitled “Why are liberals so condescending?”
What started out as a legitimate and long overdue inquiry still ended up falling short of the goal of getting to real answers, but I think I still give it a ‘B’ because it shows that some of the legacy media are starting to awaken to their responsibilities.
It contains pithy observation:
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.
Some insightful analysis:
But, if conservative leaders are crass manipulators, then the rank-and-file Americans who support them must be manipulated at best, or stupid at worst. This is the second variety of liberal condescension, exemplified in Thomas Frank’s best-selling 2004 book, “What’s the Matter With Kansas?” Frank argued that working-class voters were so distracted by issues such as abortion that they were induced into voting against their own economic interests. Then-Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, later chairman of the Democratic National Committee, echoed that theme in his 2004 presidential run, when he said Republicans had succeeded in getting Southern whites to focus on “guns, God and gays” instead of economic redistribution.
And a spoonful or two of FAIL!:
Of course, plenty of conservatives are hardly above feeling superior. But the closest they come to portraying liberals as systematically mistaken in their worldview is when they try to identify ideological dogmatism in a narrow slice of the left (say, among Ivy League faculty members), in a particular moment (during the health-care debate, for instance) or in specific individuals (such as Obama or House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, whom some conservatives accuse of being stealth ideologues). A few conservative voices may say that all liberals are always wrong, but these tend to be relatively marginal figures or media gadflies such as Glenn Beck.
Overall, it is worth reading, but the best part, by far, were the comments, where the self-appointed liberal intelligentsia felt compelled to demonstrate many of the characteristics that the author had the bad taste to publish for public consumption. A few of my favorites:
You just haven’t figured it out, have you, Mr. Alexander! It isn’t that liberals are any MORE condescending than conservatives; it is that liberals are THINKERS, so are smarter, and their comments work their way successfully to the EXACTLY correct point! Conservatives, on the other hand, the ones who criticize and TRY to be condescending are usually not even TRUE Republicans (the multi-millionaires of the country who their policies benefit)! RARELY, do any of these “conservatives” make even a single MILLION dollars a year, muchless MULTI-MILLIONS, but they STILL can’t figure out that they’re REALLY Democrats in Republican clothing, so ignorant of politics, that they vote AGAINST themselves and their own families, which is why they are called “FAUX Republicans”!!
Or it could be that we would rather try to triumph on our own achievements, rather than enriching a corrupt political class with overly large donations of the fruits of our labor in the hopes that their idea of what might be good for us would actually be letting us have back more than a minute percentage of our compulsory contributions.
mathteacher wrote:I think the author has Obama wrong. I take him at his word that he is not an ideologue. But I wonder, how can true conservatives support the overwhelming power of corporations in our society? How can true conservatives support the awarding of the presidency to the man who actually did not win the election? How can true conservatives support the actions of a Supreme Court who sought out the opportunity to overturn many years of precedent to give corporations , lifeless entities who should be serving people , the rights of personhood?
lexiesmaid wrote:Liberals are not condescending. They are educated thinkers, those who took the college track in high school. They are the ones who care about little people, people most in need, those passed by, the unnoticed or the spat upon. I’d prefer to call them thinkers who care. By the way, the terms liberal and conservative are way too stereotypical. They do nothing but serve to divide.