Liberals afflicted by culture of self-deception
by Melvyn L Fein
May 05, 2014 04:00 AM | 2681 views | 7 7 comments | 34 34 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Some of the best people I know are liberals. I really mean that! They are kind, dependable, and genuinely compassionate. Nonetheless, when it comes to the political arena, their benevolence fails them. Time and again, they support programs that while intended to do good, achieve the opposite.

Why is this so? How can they not realize that the positive outcomes they promote actually cause harm? It is not from a want of intelligence, because many liberals are highly intelligent. Nor is it from a lack of knowledge, because many are very knowledgeable.

What then is the answer? I suggest that their mistakes flow from a deeply ingrained pattern of self-deception. What is more, I believe their errors are reinforced by the pervasive culture of self-deception in which they are embedded.

The war of poverty did not work. Trillions were spent, but poverty remains with us. Affirmative action did not work. Countless thousands of minority students were admitted to schools for which they did not have the appropriate preparation, and then were forced to drop out.

Progressive education did not work. Social promotions and the new math left American students falling behind the international competition with little hope of catching up. Head Start did not work. Despite temporary improvements, the long-term results were extremely disappointing.

The list of fiascoes goes on and on, now to include Obamacare and a foreign policy crafted by a kindergarten mentality. Liberals did not ameliorate crime, nor save the family, nor end the Cold War, nor bring about economic equality — yet they like to pretend they did.

To hear them tell it, our nation would be in a deep crisis without their generous interventions. If they have not been completely successful, it is solely because mean-spirited conservatives forced them to do too little, too late.

Or is there another reason? Could it be that their proposals are misguided? Would an empirical investigation reveal that they have over-promised and under-delivered because whatever their intensions, their policies are grounded in fantasy.

The only way for good people to remain ignorant of these facts is to engage in willful self-deception and to support an agenda of public mendacity. In short, it requires them to lie to themselves and to everyone else.

They must believe that Barack Obama “misspoke” when he told Americans they could keep their health plans and doctors. They must somehow miss the deceit at the center of the assertion that women earn 77 cents on the dollar compared with men — for the same work. Even the Census Bureau disowned that last one.

And what about Obama’s policy of bringing peace by apologizing for American grandiosity? We are not exceptional, so who are we to tell the Iranians they cannot have an atomic bomb or the Russians that they must not annex a nation whose borders they pledged to respect?

Nor should we pay down a national debt that was once decried as unpatriotic or investigate an IRS scandal that had been denounced as shameful. It is time to move on because there is nothing to see; that is, nothing the liberals wish us (or themselves) to see.

Liberals are good people; hence they can do no bad — ever. Liberals are extraordinarily smart; hence they can make no mistakes — ever. If others claim they do, it is because they are racist, sexist and homophobic idiots.

For some liberals, the endless cycle of self-congratulation will never stop. They are on a merry-go-round energized by ethereal ideals that they will not allow to founder on the shores of a harsh reality. Trapped as they are in a community high on pipe dreams, the best they can manage is to legalize their drug of choice.

Self-deception can be comforting. It can wish away bad economic news or conjure up a political rainbow at the end of a social storm. Meanwhile, the rest of us are tossed and turned by the consequences of their self-inflicted follies.

Melvyn L. Fein Ph.D. is professor of sociology at Kennesaw State University.
Comments-icon Post a Comment
May 05, 2014
Affirmative action did work. It was necessary to eliminate de facto segregation in college admission (especially private colleges) and the workplace. Affirmative action forced changes in behavior that would have taken decades to occur otherwise.

One problem is that affirmative action went from being a means to accomplish a specific goal to being an end in and of itself, with an ideology built around it. It was necessary at one time, but now its time has passed. Another problem is that conservatives opposed affirmative action even when it was necessary, and did the same with other civil rights measures. Back then, the grounds for opposition was not (for example) blacks taking opportunity from more qualified whites, and certainly not black students flunking out of colleges that they were unprepared to, but rather opposition to the very idea of blacks becoming doctors, lawyers, accountants etc. in the first place. That is the reason why conservatives are generally not trusted when it comes to racial issues. Mainstream and independent voters prefer the left and all their flaws to the political movement that was still defending segregation barely 20 years ago. Case in point: the segregationist barbecues in Mississippi that Bob Barr and Haley Barbour got caught attending in the 1990s while serving in Congress and running the RNC. That issue cost Barbour any shot at running for President.
Ben Twomey
May 06, 2014
Sorry, but it is the Democrats who have historically opposed equal rights. It was the Democrats who

started the KKK. It was the Democrats who fought against integrating schools. Remember when Gov.Faubus called out tbe Arkansas National Guard to stop the integreation of the Little Rock Schools, by tthe Little Rock Nine. It was Republican President Dwight Eisenhower who sent troops from the 101st Air Borne to proptect the students and nationalized the Arkansas National Guard which then protected the students instead of stopping them.

You want to point fingers at Bob Barr and Haley Barbour, you might want to check on Senator Robert Byrd who was an official in the KKK while serving as a U. S. Senator.

Sorry, but your whole diatribe is wrong.

Kevin Foley
May 05, 2014
Since I recently presented the 77 cents on the dollar fact in a column on why conservatives don't regard women as very important, a fact which Fein says the Census Bureau "disowned" I re-checked. That would be big news after all and I might have missed it.

I Googled "Census Bureau Disowns 77 cents" and...found nothing. I did find a January, 2014 PolitiFact item that checked the truthfulness of the statement and rated it "Mostly True."

So once again, facts elude Fein when he says things like Obamacare is a "fiasco" when more than 8 million have enrolled in health insurance plans (28% young "invincibles" enough to sustain the program) and another 4 million in Medicaid. "Bad economic news" as in nearly 300,000 jobs added to the economy in April, the 50th straight month, I believe, of jobs growth.

And Fein accuses liberals of self-deception.
Ben Twomey
May 06, 2014
Kevin, why don't you tell the whole truth? The 77 cent figure is derived from comparing all salaries, without regard to the "equal pay for equal work" provision. Which is the say it is not camparing apples to apples, nor co-worker to co-worker. It is closer to comparing a domestic to a financial officer.

But then, that's the way you spin doctors work isn't it? Tell only that which supports your fantasy.
Kevin Foley
May 06, 2014
Twomey, not what I said.

Fein states clearly the Census Bureau "disowned" the 77 cents statistic. It did not.

So, instead of equivocating, why don't you ask yourself what else Fein got wrong here and in past columns?
Ben Twomey
May 07, 2014
Kevin, I find Fein's columns much less inclined to be incorrect than yours. Though I don't always agree with either of you.
Kevin Foley
May 08, 2014
Twomey, I invite you to present here anything I've written that's "incorrect."

In fact, why don't you write a guest column detailing all my transgressions, point by point since you suggest I'm a serial misinformer...I'm sure the MDJ will print it.

I'm just kidding. I'll save you the trouble. I fact check everything I write. Fein doesn't.
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