Saturday, February 6, 2010

'Liberal' Condescension

Gerard Alexander, associate professor of politics at the University of Virginia, has a Washington Post essay that does a reasonable job of drawing a picture of 'liberal' attitudes toward conservatives — and Americans in general.
This liberal vision emphasizes the dissemination of ideologically driven views from sympathetic media such as the Fox News Channel. For example, Chris Mooney's book "The Republican War on Science" argues that policy debates in the scientific arena are distorted by conservatives who disregard evidence and reflect the biases of industry-backed Republican politicians or of evangelicals aimlessly shielding the world from modernity.

In this interpretation, conservative arguments are invariably false and deployed only cynically. Evidence of the costs of cap-and-trade carbon rationing is waved away as corporate propaganda; arguments against health-care reform are written off as hype orchestrated by insurance companies.
There's much more to the piece worth exploring, but as People's Exhibit #1, I offer the essay by Jacob Weisberg on Slate.
In trying to explain why our political paralysis seems to have gotten so much worse over the past year, analysts have rounded up a plausible collection of reasons including: President Obama's tactical missteps, the obstinacy of congressional Republicans, rising partisanship in Washington, the blustering idiocracy of the cable-news stations, and the Senate filibuster, which has devolved into a super-majority threshold for any important legislation.

These are all large factors, to be sure, but that list neglects what may be the biggest culprit in our current predicament: the childishness, ignorance, and growing incoherence of the public at large.
While he makes some valid points — for example, that Americans often (at least appear to) want to solve big problems but refuse to make the hard choices to do so (no doubt true of some percentage) — he refrains from looking at other, equally plausible explanations, such as that they simply differ from most Progressives on how those problems should be attacked.

(Not to mention simply ignoring more than one elephant in the room, like the fact that Progressive-leaning major media outlets outnumber conservative ones by 10:1. Also, it's a mystery how "obstinate Republicans" could decide any issue, given that the Democrats have ample majorities in Congress and they control the Executive Branch.)

In any case, it's the tone of the piece that is most striking and demonstrates Alexander's point to a T.

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