The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Thursday, January 02, 2014


In his opening commentary for the new year, Jonah Goldberg discusses the "partisanship and polarization" that has become endemic in Washington and around the country. He suggests that partisanship leads to a healthy democracy, but polarization is both counterproductive and corrosive.

Rather than assessing who is to blame, he suggests that people who have adopted one of the two dominant political philosophies exhibit psychological characteristics that have led to polarization. He writes:
So I have small suggestions for New Year’s resolutions for both the Right and the Left in 2014. For liberals, maybe you should try to accept the fact that you’re not the non-conformists you think you are. And for conservatives, perhaps you should consider that you’re not necessarily the irrefutable voice of “normal” Americans.

The thought occurred to me while reading “The Liberal Illusion of Uniqueness” in the journal Psychological Science. Apparently it’s a well-established finding that liberals tend to think their views are more rebellious than they are. They feel a “need for uniqueness.” And that need can stand in the way of seeking commonality with other Americans.

Conservatives don’t crave uniqueness. In fact, they are more likely to overestimate the extent to which there is a consensus around their beliefs. In other words, liberals bristle at the notion that they’re conventional thinkers, while conservatives are too quick to assume everyone thinks like them.
I think this analysis, although overly simplistic, may, in fact, be close to accurate. Recall that my blog credo is: "The further to the Left or the Right you move, the more your lense on life distorts." I believe that as much or more today as I believed it when I set this site up many years ago.

For the past five years, the extreme Left has held sway in positions of power. We're seeing the results of their handiwork every day. Unprecedented national debt, unrestrained government expansion, incompetent execution of government, and incoherent foreign policy. For the Left, it seems that words matter far more than execution of competent actions, that intent matters more than actual results.

For the preceding eight years, the Right held power. They were considerably more competent with domestic legislation, and shockingly, considerably more sensitive to personal privacy and governmental transparency. But they had their own fantasies about the spread of democracy in places that are neither ready nor willing to accept it. As a consequence, they embarked on foreign adventures that were, with hindsight, ill-advised and destructive. And they continue to promote stances on social issues (e.g., abortion, gay marriage, gun control) that are out of step with a 21st century society.

The key arbiter of the profound differences between the Left and the Right is the mainstream media. It's job is to keep both sides honest, not to promote one side while demonizing the other. Sadly, the MSM has failed to do its job, particularly in the past five years. They have allowed an incompetent ideologue to govern with relatively little investigation or criticism. They have buried important stories (e.g., the IRS scandal) and never questioned or investigated the lies that led to the creation of Obamacare. The MSM is supposed to provide a check on unrestrained executive power, you know, the old leftist phrase, "Speaking truth to power." Instead, the MSM became, under Barack Obama, his praetorian guard, protecting him by omission and commission. In so doing, it did a great disservice to the American people and in many ways, helped to foster polarization and its many corrosive effects.