I was innocently making my way through the weekend newspapers when I came upon a “think” piece in The Washington Post by a dreamer named Chris Mooney, a self-confessed “liberal.” Yes, he actually admitted to it.
He has conferred with psychologists to ascertain the difference between liberals and conservatives. By the way, it is always a tip-off when one writes that he has resorted to psychologists, as opposed to political philosophers, to explain what are, after all, political differences. What the writer is saying is we now have “science” on our side, as opposed to mere learning, and the scientists’ findings are unassailable - and, as it turns out, claptrap: tendentious, self-regarding claptrap.
Now comes Mr. Mooney’s claptrap: “There’s now a large body of evidence showing that those who opt for the political left and those who opt for the political right tend to process information in divergent ways and to differ on any number of psychological traits.” To come to the point, liberals “score higher on a personality measure called ‘openness to experience.’ ” And conservatives, “in contrast, tend to be less open - less exploratory, less in need of change.” We conservatives appreciate “order and structure.” You will recall how open to experience liberals have been when we have attempted to introduce vouchers, charter schools, missile defense and supply-side economics. Liberals are wildly curious about conservative positions on all manner of issues. As for openness, may I suggest you light up a fat cigar, say, in an outdoor cafe, or ride your bicycle without a helmet. See how open our liberal friends are then.
Fortunately, last weekend I also read the Wall Street Journal (that is how open “to experience” I am) and came across an interview with the distinguished British political philosopher - and, I might add, American Spectator contributor - Roger Scruton. Mr. Scruton, as luck would have it, had some arresting things to say about the differing mentality of liberals and conservatives - all without having to resort to the partisan findings of lightweights and imposters. He said of liberalism: “My own view is that left-wing positions largely come about from resentment - I agree with Nietzsche about this - a resentment about the surrounding social order. They have privileges; I don’t. Or, I have them, and I can’t live up to them. Things should be organized differently. And there’s always some sense on the left that power is in the wrong hands.”
That comports very well with my long-held thesis that there is only one political value that all liberals through the generations continue to profess. It is not personal liberty. It is not public order. It is disturbing the peace. Think about my aforementioned fat cigar. A generation ago, no self-respecting liberal denied our ability to smoke in public, and a lady with a cigar was admired widely. Today it is a capital offense, or should be. Liberals’ one unchanging political value is to disturb the peace, and let us pause to note that in almost any civilized criminal code, disturbing the peace is a misdemeanor. In Araby, it probably is a capital offense.
Mr. Scruton’s observation about the liberals and their resentments is a perfect opening for introducing a lady who this week needs no introduction, Democratic strategist Hilary Rosen, who said of Ann Romney that she “has actually never worked a day in her life. She’s never really dealt with the kinds of economic issues that a majority of the women in this country are facing.” Mrs. Romney raised five boys, beginning when both she and her husband were undergraduates. Oh, and let us not forget the comic genius Bill Maher, who that added Ann Romney “has never gotten [expletive] out of the house to work.”
These liberals may suffer superior “openness to experience,” but their openness is limited to things their leaders approve of, and, more fundamentally, they are very angry. They are angry with anyone who presumes to seek high public office against them - even a candidate’s wife. They are angry because they are losing.
R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr. is founder and editor-in-chief of the American Spectator and an adjunct scholar at the Hudson Institute. He is author of the forthcoming “The Death of Liberalism” (Thomas Nelson).
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