For one thing, liberals were certain they were more intelligent than others. They were also positive they were nicer. As such, they believed it imperative that they lead the way toward a brighter future.
But oh my, how the mighty have fallen! These would-be philosopher kings have been discovered to have feet of clay. The recent debacles of the Obama administration have put their self-assured assertions in doubt and left their integrity in tatters.
Barack Obama lied. He lied many, many times. He lied when he told people could keep their health plans. He lied when he said they could retain their doctors. He lied when he said our ambassador in Benghazi had been killed by a flash mob incited by an offensive video.
Obama has compounded this mendacity by violating his previous declaration that the senate’s filibuster rule was sacred. It has not been many years since he vehemently maintained that this practice was essential to protecting minority rights. Suddenly, however, this analysis is non-operative.
What is worse is that many partisan liberals have gone along with his malfeasance. They have defended their president and voted to eliminate a legislative procedure they too once endorsed. Abruptly, power has become more important to them than honest dealing.
Anyone but the most zealous liberals must acknowledge that Obamacare is a cancer metastasizing on the body politic. Anyone not blinded by ambition must realize that manipulating the American people with false promises and ignoring constitutional safeguards puts our democracy in danger.
Unhappily, too many liberals have sacrificed their integrity for a mess of stinking pottage. They have excused their president’s lies by claiming that he merely misspoke and/or was not sufficiently clear in his language. They have likewise joined in trashing centuries of Senate precedent for a temporary political advantage.
Even as recently as Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s administration, Senate Democrats bridled at “packing” the Supreme Court. They understood that the court was obstructing their president’s policies, but they valued the nation’s traditions even more. Evidently such patriotism is no longer part of the liberal creed.
So why is this so? Why have so many liberals become blatant shills for deceit and demagoguery? Part of the answer can be found in a psychological insight enunciated a half-century ago by Leon Festinger, who alerted us to the potency of cognitive dissonance. He noted that when people are confronted with information that contradicts strongly held beliefs, they are apt to deny the obvious. In an effort to defend their self-images, they repudiate reality. They simply cannot bring themselves to acknowledge their personal limitations.
But isn’t this what is happening to liberals? Aren’t they being confronted with shortcomings they are loath to admit? Obamacare has clearly been a case of over-reaching. It and its rollout have been both inept and injurious. The website has plainly been a technical humiliation, while the program’s irrational demands have placed millions of people in jeopardy of losing their health insurance.
How is this smart? And compassionate? Could people who fancy themselves among the best and brightest have perpetrated this abomination upon fellow citizens who trusted their words? This could not possibly be true — and so it must not be.
Accordingly, with this bit of mental gymnastics, liberal integrity is tossed out the window. Facts no longer matter. Human decency no longer matters. Promises cease to count. And as for tradition, it is a millstone to be hastily discarded.
The only thing that seems to matter is self-preservation. Liberals have thus become parodies of the virtuous saviors they have long portrayed themselves as. Having descended into the gutter, they wallow there before our eyes.
Melvyn L. Fein, Ph.D., is professor of sociology at Kennesaw State University.