“In time of victory, why is the left so angry?”
Surprisingly, that’s not a rhetorical question. Byron York:
[…] I asked William Anderson, a friend who is a political conservative, a medical doctor, and a lecturer in psychiatry at Harvard. “They are angry, but I think they are also scared, and I think it’s because they have a sense that their triumph is a precarious one,” Anderson told me. Democrats won in 2008 in some part because of the cycles of American politics; Republicans were exhausted and it was the other party’s turn. Now, having won, they are unsure of how long victory will last.
“They see that they have a very small window of opportunity to do all the things they want,” Anderson continued. “They see the window of opportunity as small because they know in their deepest hearts that the vast majority of the American people wouldn’t go for all of the things they want to do.” So they are frantic to do as much as possible before the opposition coalesces. And the tea parties might be the beginning of that coalescence.
Then there is the question of self-image. Watching Garofalo and Olbermann discuss the tea parties, it was impossible to avoid the sense that they saw themselves as two good people talking about many bad people. “One of the things about narcissism is that it looks like people who are just proud of themselves and smug, but in fact narcissism is a very brittle and unstable state,” Anderson told me. “People who are deeply invested in narcissism spend an awful lot of energy trying to maintain the illusion they have of themselves as being powerful and good, and they are exquisitely sensitive to anything that might prick that balloon.”
Again, the tea parties could represent a threat. What if the protesters weren’t racists, weren’t violent, weren’t mentally defective? What if their point was legitimate, or even partly legitimate? Those are questions better batted down than answered.
— Which supposes that, given the time and inclination, most “progressives” could formulate and then articulate an answer to such questions. Sadly, I think such supposition gives the rank and file of the left far too much credit: in my experiences dealing with the politically engaged leftist who visits this site (not a scientific sampling of rank and file leftists, to be sure, but my hunch is that those progressives who troll “wingnut” blogs in search of “argument” conceive of themselves as politically well-versed and generally astute), their positions tend to be rote learned and attached to a kind of knee jerk tu quoque-ism, both as a defensive fallback and as a constant ready-made assertion-in-waiting.
Watching people like Garofalo or Olbmermann or Congressional House Dems or Janet Napolitano or our sad little friend with the pet filipina wife, Gordo, quickly lose their stride and so offer conservative psychosis, extremism, and racism / xenophobia / misogyny / homophobia as a retort to policy issues merely firms up what many of us already knew: that many progressives have learned to parrot the few things it takes to make them sound smart, but once pressured, they haven’t the critical thinking skills to extrapolate out even from their own positions — which often leaves them forced to defend arguments that run counter to their own stated positions (recall how Amanda Marcotte’s “social construction” of “woman” argument took her into uncomfortable when the same posts-structural linguistic necessities she applied to “women” were applied to “homosexuals,” eg.), and leaves them with little recourse but to try to stave off “debate” altogether.
And the best way they know to do this — because it is the lesson they’ve learned since they were old enough to admire their first lefty butcher — is to use one of the magic words that, through a social and media consensus, they’ve come to be able to rely upon as kind of gameshow lifelines.
Which is why their “arguments” are often little more than assertions that their opponents or interlocutors are some combination of racist, sexist, homophobic and xenophobic extremists — people who are either bad by choice or bad by brain chemistry / genetic weaknesses brought about by southern breeding practices.
Progressives are joiners; they crave group acceptance; and it is their ability to consider themselves well-educated and politically conversant for having memorized the party line that more than anything else defines them.
That they’ve been able to create a frame that protects and nurtures their ignorance — indeed, that elevates it to popular acceptance — is hardly surprising: it is easier to pretend to be smart than it is to learn, and, once this lesson is learned at the macro level, it is easier to get a group of people together who will all pretend to see the emperor’s topcoat than it is to find a brave few who will wonder why the old geezer’s let his balls hang out.