Left, Right, and Center: Why we don't understand each other
The media continues to peddle the myth that the Obama administration is "moderate." Here's an interesting
though admittedly polemical- look at just how revolutionary it actually is.
And it's an article of faith on the Left that liberals (excuse me, progressives) are smart and have a philosophy which comprehends everything, whereas conservatives are, by definition, dolts. At times (the current time being a case in point) this essentially elitist (not to say delusional) view is not necessary exclusive of their success at the polls.
But Diane Ellis, a San Francisco conservative, agrees with liberal columnist Nicholas Kristoff (and a recent University of Virginia study) that conservatives understand liberals better than liberals understand conservatives- or themselves.
I have a few problems problems with the analysis of the new book Kristoff mentions. Admittedly conservatives have more complicated ethical beliefs than liberals do, and sometimes tend to be more authoritarian. But Chicago's bully of a mayor, Rahm Emanuel, for example, is hardly a conservative- and his contempt for the rights of those who disagree with him are virtually his trademark. For that matter, the same can be said, in my experience, of liberals as a group; nobody is more authoritarian or rigid than a liberal whose sense of political correctness has been offended. In fact, the Left sometimes takes ideological and even behavioral rigidity to the point of unintentional comedy.
I think the late Bill Buckley was closer to the mark- and to the findings of the UVA study- when he said that whereas a conservative will think that a person who disagrees with him is badly informed, or guilty of logical errors, or something less than objective- in other words, that he is in error- a liberal's default response to someone who disagrees with her is that he is evil. This is not to say that self-righteousness is purely a phenomenon of the Left. But those who accuse the Right of being excessively "moralistic" really ought to ponder the frequency with which the tendency is found among those with the least in common with the Religious Right.
Oh. And by the way... I'm fascinated (though ot surprised) by Kristoff's observation that more books on ethics are stolen from public libraries than on any other subject.