Bob Owens

The saddest truth in politics is that people get the leaders they deserve

The liberal “honesty problem.”

Written By: Bob - Jul• 09•12

I happened across a very interesting pair of articles this morning that seem to provide an excellent look into the mind of liberals, and may explain much about them that simply doesn’t make sense to normal people. After reading them, the lyrics to one of my favorite Billy Joel songs echoed through my head.

I can always find someone
To say they sympathize.
If I wear my heart out on my sleeve.
But I don’t want some pretty face
To tell me pretty lies.
All I want is someone to believe.

Honesty is such a lonely word.
Everyone is so untrue.
Honesty is hardly ever heard.
And mostly what I need from you.

Fellow PJ Media contributor Zombie recently read George Lakoff’s The Little Blue Book and posted a lengthy analysis of it that goes a long way towards explaining how the liberal belief in framing or messaging the world around them warps their frame of reference,and makes it very difficult for them to communicate with those outside their community in any meaningful way.

I strongly advise you read the entire in-depth review, as it gives a dispassionate explanation of why liberals think so differently–and so loudly–against what everyone else knows to be true. She has this to say about the deception inherent in the community-based reality.

When Lakoff talks about liberals needing to come up with better “moral frames” and “conceptual metaphors,” what he’s really talking about is euphemism. Lakoff is the King of Euphemism.

Take for example one of the best euphemisms of the last 50 years: “Affirmative Action.” Wow. Two positive, vigorous words inseparably paired. If you had never heard the phrase before, you’d be convinced that whatever Affirmative Action is, it’s simply got to be something good.

It’s so catchy and effective that even opponents of “Affirmative Action” endlessly repeat the phrase themselves as they are arguing against it and pointing out that it’s neither “affirmative” nor “action,” but rather is government-imposed racism, unfair and unconstitutional. When even your opponents repeat your phrase — now that‘s an effective euphemism.

But Lakoff wouldn’t call it a euphemism: He’d deem the phrase “Affirmative Action” merely a “conceptual metaphor” which succinctly conveys an embedded moral message. And he thinks that if this metaphor is repeated loudly and often enough, that it will over time sway public opinion.

And it’s right around here in my exploration of the Lakoff universe that I start to get confused and increasingly disturbed.

As a layperson, an outsider, I have always assumed that a new label doesn’t change the intrinsic nature of what is being labeled. Thus, I could take a can of beans, peel off its label and replace it with a label that says “Cherries,” but that doesn’t mean the contents of the can suddenly transform into cherries; it remains beans, regardless of what the label says.

But Lakoff seems to be saying, throughout The Little Blue Book, that when you slap a new label — or euphemism, or “conceptual metaphor” or “moral frame” or whatever you want to call it — on an idea, that this somehow transforms the idea itself and people’s opinions about it. “I don’t like new taxes,” says Average Joe. “These aren’t taxes — they’re a Deficit Reduction Bonanza!” Lakoff might say. “A Deficit Reduction Bonanza? Why didn’t you say so earlier? Sounds great! Where do I sign up?”

Lakoff both accepts and parrots the premise that liberals are inherently right by virtue of being liberals. Their values and judgements are never to be called in question, and are inherently infallible. He believes–and wants other liberals to believe–that the only problem with liberals is that they need to slap a new label on the proverbial can. This is why rational people, whatever their position, can’t have rational conversations with liberals. Liberals are unable to engage, and must always seek to reframe the argument instead of debate the actual values and merit of any given issue. They are convinced that labeling a can of beans as “cherries” will turn them into cherries. It’s not so much as a philosophy, as it is barrier to lucid cognitive function.

That may go a long way towards explaining why conservatives are much happier than liberals. Shockingly enough, that bit of objectively admission comes in the pages of the New York Times, where Arthur Brooks posits:

Who is happier about life — liberals or conservatives? The answer might seem straightforward. After all, there is an entire academic literature in the social sciences dedicated to showing conservatives as naturally authoritarian, dogmatic, intolerant of ambiguity, fearful of threat and loss, low in self-esteem and uncomfortable with complex modes of thinking. And it was the candidate Barack Obama in 2008 who infamously labeled blue-collar voters “bitter,” as they “cling to guns or religion.” Obviously, liberals must be happier, right?

Wrong. Scholars on both the left and right have studied this question extensively, and have reached a consensus that it is conservatives who possess the happiness edge. Many data sets show this. For example, the Pew Research Center in 2006 reported that conservative Republicans were 68 percent more likely than liberal Democrats to say they were “very happy” about their lives. This pattern has persisted for decades. The question isn’t whether this is true, but why.

Taken together, it suggests that conservatives are far happier with the world because we are creatures of reality, whereas liberals trap themselves in an artificial fantasy in which they must unceasingly battle against and even redefine truth to keep cognitive dissonance from tearing them asunder. Being a liberal is exhausting.

No wonder they’re cranky all the time.

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  1. Junk Science Skeptic says:

    Too long for most to read or understand, but this post is nonetheless a comparatively succinct description of my biggest problem with today’s “liberals.” Or are they “progressives” this week?

    Folks can believe whatever they want, and advocate whatever they want, but if they’re selling “beans,” quit calling the damn things “cherries.”

    Reasonable people can debate political ideologies and/or economic philosophies, but reasonable people do not need to or try to disguise beans as cherries to make their point.

    When liberals try sell the same old ideas that have unmistakeably failed over and over and over again, they’re certainly entitled to argue their point. But when their principal argument for trying a repeatedly failed concept is based on the abuse, no, the torture of even the simplest language (e.g. labeling beans as cherries in the words of the post), that bothers me more than the attempt to try a failed concept yet again.

    Conservatives have their share of bad ideas, but when they tried a repeat of alcohol prohibition with the “war on drugs,” they didn’t call it the “Nancy Reagan Cares About Street Thugs Act,” or even try to brand it as a “temperance” movement, they called it a “war” – “on” – “drugs” with no ambiguity or subterfuge.

    Your heartstrings, or your care for Nancy Reagan, or your affinity for street thugs weren’t summoned to advance that particular conservative viewpoint. Good idea or bad, they called it what it was, a war on drugs. If you didn’t like wars, or you were a fan of drugs, you didn’t have to guess or wonder what the conservatives had in mind, and you could make an informed vote for or against the conservatives advocating the war on drugs.

    Not so with today’s liberals. SUV tax credit used to bash Bush? Never existed. Tax cuts for sending jobs overseas? Still don’t exist. “Subsidies” (by any logical definition) for oil companies? Yet another liberal lie.

    The louder that liberals shout a talking point, the more certain it is to be a lie.

  2. Marty says:

    Best description I’ve heard for the liberal syndrome is: “Liberals are convinced that it is entirely possible to pick up a turd by the clean end.”

  3. Jeff Hoser says:

    Having been a college student in the Sixties, I saw the emergence of the “liberal mindset” first hand. Even at this early date many of a conservative bent warned against the “sense-dragging” technique of altering the meaning of words/facts by endless iteration of falsehoods. >MW