Q & A: In what ways are many liberals out of touch with the real world?

I’ll tell you one big way (speaking as a radical leftist) – I was under the delusion that the overwhelming majority of Americans were kind, non-judgmental, and fairly smart, and there were just a few very loud White Supremists and other bigots making a lot of racket… I thought working-class white Americans were upset because the economic system was going less and less in their favor, and although some folks blamed those worse off than themselves for this, they would support legislators and programs that helped everyone – including themselves.

Turns out there are apparently a LOT of Americans – perhaps a majority – who are consumed with hatred towards those unlike them, whether those people are brown, non-Christian, non-hetero-normative, not American citizens, whatever. There are a LOT of Americans – perhaps a majority – who would support policies that hurt them personally, as long as those unlike them are hurt worse.

This is not a reality that it has been pleasant to face. Thanks for asking.

REALLY well said, Sadie! <applause> I’ve been saying much the same, always in a bit of a daze. I thought those you speak of, the ones consumed with hatred to the point of madness, were part of the “lunatic fringe”. I knew they were there, but such a minority that they shouldn’t be taken seriously. I was so… so wrong. What an unpleasant lesson to learn. At the (very) least, know you’re not alone.

That’s interesting Paul. There’s no need to project. I’m happy to tell you what I thought. 😉

I’m southern. My entire family is southern. My grandfather was one of the most racist individuals I’ve ever known. He refused to eat food prepared by African Americans. He saw one spit in a white person’s food once – that was enough for him.

My mother was his only child. She rejected everything he taught her about racism. She married a military officer, traveled the world, learned all she could about living a life based on the idea that everyone brings something amazing to the table. This is what she taught her children.

Which brings us to me. When I lived in New Orleans I had a great deal of hate directed at me for the color of my skin. After Katrina, when Mayor Nagin assured the world that “We as black people, it’s time, it’s time for us to come together. It’s time for us to rebuild a New Orleans, the one that should be a chocolate New Orleans. And I don’t care what people are saying Uptown or wherever they are. This city will be chocolate at the end of the day” I was the least surprised person in the world. Ok, I was a little surprised that a politician said the soft part loud, but that’s it.

It made sense to me that a minority population would want to claim a city where they could live as the majority. But even then, trying hard to listen, to see what it was like, I was still outside the experience. I still thought that the hate, the prejudice, the discrimination was directed by a very vocal, extremely active minority. Surely humans as a whole were better than that. Which isn’t to say that African Americans don’t experience discrimination. Not at all. But the majority of people do not default to hate. African Americans, like all others who experience discrimination, were actively targeted by humans on the verge of madness. A vocal minority. The lunatic fringe.

That was my mistake. My partner teaches Cultural Diversity classes. I help grade the papers. I’ve read the stories for over a decade, each one describing what it’s like to live under the thumb of prejudice based on stereotype. I vowed that I would not behave in that fashion. I would not tolerate the presence of anyone who did. I taught others not to act on hate. When Obama was elected I took it as proof that these efforts were working. That hate was still present, but not dominant.

I was wrong.

I didn’t understand how comforting hate and anger is to so many. I didn’t understand that some humans truly believe they can hate in the name of love. I have a very difficult time comprehending how someone can hate in the name of Christianity. I didn’t think hate was winning.

I was wrong.

Chocolate City speech – Wikipedia


Q & A: Why do I have a hard time understanding liberal arguments on a lot of issues?

Mike Rightmire, Molecular Biotechnologist and Bioinformaticist, wrote such a brilliant answer to this question I feel a strong need to share it with others.  Take it away Mike!

I’ve found one of the major differences between conservative and liberal viewpoints is: that liberals often (not always) try to drive legislation based on how humans tend to react to stimuli, whereas conservatives (often but not always) tend to drive legislation based on how they feel humans SHOULD respond to stimuli.

For example: trickle down. It makes sense that if a person growing a business gets to keep more of their money (lower taxes) they would invest that money in the business (making more jobs) so they can make more money.

That makes total sense!!

The problem is; the evidence suggests they don’t (or at least not after a certain point. Once a person has reached a “certain level” of wealth, speculation tends to be more profitable than trying to sell/ manufacture more widgets. Speculation does not create jobs…just wealth.)


“Liberals” (I hate these labels) generally (but not always) identify this issue, and change tactics. Conservatives (as implied by the very name) KNOW that this SHOULD work…so they must be doing it wrong…and tend to double down.

This is the same issue with most social problems…

Harder prison terms SHOULD deter criminals (they would deter “ME!”). But they don’t.

Making drugs illegal should stop drug use. But it doesn’t.

Killing terrorists should stop terrorists. But it doesn’t.

Teaching kids to stay abstinent until marriage should reduce unwanted pregnancies. But it doesn’t.

So, the question you must ask yourself is;

Am I having a problem understanding the liberal viewpoint, because I’m clinging to an unexamined fallacy(ies) about human nature.

A SECOND DIFFERENCE is an emotional one. I call it, “WHY SHOULD I?”

This is the harder one. In my (apparently liberal leaning) attitude I have discovered that what’s “fair” – when addressing humanity – is immaterial.

For example, healthcare. Conservatives (rightly so) believe people should take care of themselves. As well they should. But some don’t or can’t. And never will. So, the conservative say, “Well…WHY SHOULD I have to pay for them?!”

The answer is; it doesn’t matter. You will anyway.

You will either pay to house, feed, clothe, and heal them. Or you will pay to clean up the bodies, clean up the crime, clean up the parks (where they sleep and defecate), pay for the prisons, etc.

A liberal says, “Paying to house and feed them is cheaper. Let’s do that.”

A conservative says, “BUT IT’S NOT FAIR. So let them suffer.”
Liberal: “But why let them suffer?”
Conservative: “So they’ll learn.”

But sociologists and psychologists tell us, that they don’t learn from this.

So, the next question you have to ask yourself is; why is it better to let people suffer, even though it costs you more, than pay for something you “shouldn’t have to” pay for?

=== EDIT ===
A very reasonable comment was made, about how (perhaps) conservatives have a more “… ingrained and perhaps more rigid sense of right vs wrong.”

This was my response…which I think is a useful addition to the original post…


“… [conservatives have a more] ingrained and perhaps more ridged sense of right vs wrong.”

Or perhaps simply a more inflexible one. Whether it’s “wrong” to be unable to work, even when that inability appears as just “laziness” is a point of discussion.

As a molecular biologist who studied neuroscience heavily, I have come to the realization that the drives and morals that allow me to “function” are less a matter of my personal superiority as an individual, and more to do with luck (good genes, proper nutrition growing up – leading to proper brain development, good parents, good schools, etc.)

I think this is another point of difference between “conservatives” or “liberals” (or moderate or any two humans on the planet regardless of “classification”)…

The experiences that shape our world.

My studies have shown me, personally, that who we “choose to be” drives a much smaller portion of our personalities than we like to believe (or are willing to accept).

While I have worked very hard (as have most people) to cultivate those parts of me that are “good”, and correct those parts of me that are “bad”…the very fact that I’m psychologically capable of doing this, and even have a definition of “good” and “bad” personality traits, was entirely beyond my control.

Point being that I have run into many people (frequently conservatives) who are under the (IMHO) *delusion* that they are self-determined (or, at least, predominantly self-determined). So, when they see “a bum”, they believe they simply choose to be this way – so they deserve to suffer.

I do not think this is such a simple matter. As a result, I’m much more accepting of the (very Biblical) statement that, “There will always be poor (and lazy, and incompetent)…” so, simply dealing with that unalienable fact in the most pragmatic and humane way is simply reality.

And complaining about “Why should I have to”…just seems egocentric.