Evil Rich Liberals

In a post discussing Republican retrospectives on 2012’s defeat, Brad DeLong references a 2008 column by pundit Michael Barone that claims a powerful, key demographic for Democrats is “trustfunders” who are “very liberal… have done nothing to earn their money… elite private or public high schools… colleges and universities… propagandized about the evils of capitalism and globalization.”
DeLong points out with simple statistics that Barone is talking through his hat: It’s simply impossible for their to be enough people in this category to be a significant part of the electorate. However this is such a familiar argument, I thought I’d take a few seconds to cover it.
The image of “limousine liberals”—rich left-wingers who tell other people how to live while, I don’t know, sitting comfortably in their limos sipping scotch. Overbearing reformers who don’t have any dog in the hunt but stick their nose in other peoples’ business anyway. Who take away jobs with regulations and interfere with the way Things Have Always Been (and which Everyone Knows are the way they’re meant to be).
John Edwards (even predating his outing as an adulterer) was a hypocrite because he has lots of money but says he cares about the poor (of course, Romney and W and other Repubs say they care about the poor but for some reason that doesn’t make them hypocrites). People who put their kids in private schools are hypocrites if they don’t support public school (by which logic, I suppose if you support food for the poor but eat caviar you’re a hypocrite). Republican sock-puppet Ron Hart tried a variant of this in a column a couple of years ago—all tacky rich people (I think the dog-whistles in the column imply it’s about Rich Black People, but I may be wrong) are liberals and classy ones are conservatives (he offers no evidence to this effect other than his deep understanding of human nature. And the fact that as a Goldman Sachs former employee, I imagine he’s fairly well off himself).
Conservatives hate liberal hypocrites, even though they usually insist hypocrisy is the tribute vice pays to virtue. But of course, that would imply liberal positions have virtue and conservatives would rather not believe that.
I’m not saying this is a totally unreasonable criticism of some liberals. Plenty of reformers and activists of one sort of another have done overbearing, unreasonable shit (LGM’s Erik Loomis has written a lot about how environmentalists need to focus on people, not just wilderness). Eugenicists included enthusiastic liberals.
But, of course, the same is true of the right-wing. And never more so than today, when they’re insisting, repeatedly, that having sex is wrong if you’re not willing to get pregnant and the law should reflect that. And that being pregnant should strip a woman of her rights. That gays can’t marry or even exist.
Police (not notably a liberal constituency) routinely bust into houses in full SWAT mode, even if there’s no indication they’re going to meet with armed resistance. Police and prosecutors have jailed multiple people based on myths of Satanic activity.
Yet a conservative I was arguing with a couple of years ago was insisting that the reason conservatives resent liberals is that right-wingers don’t like anyone telling them what to do.
Actually they’re fine with it. At least they’re fine with it as long as the person conforms their beliefs and doesn’t upset the apple cart. That is, acceptable leaders for those with authoritarian mindsets. Or leaders who tell other people to obey the same rules. Because people who dissent and question and don’t do what they’re told and aren’t conservatives talking back to liberals, those are the real problem.
So while Barone’s spewing bullshit, it’s bullshit with a long history.

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One response to “Evil Rich Liberals

  1. Pingback: Virtue signaling | Fraser Sherman's Blog

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