It’s always a treat when liberals condescend to try to understand the rest of us. They get out their IQ tests and personality surveys, crunch some numbers and use science! to explain our inherent inferiority. The latest exercise, by lefty psychology professor John Ehrenreich, is particularly enlightening.
In Slate, Ehrenreich sets out to explain why “Conservatives are so obsessed with gun rights.” Make no mistake, this is a serious, erudite article -- it even appears in the “Science” section. And, in pointing out that liberals and conservatives think differently, he stresses, “Nothing is intrinsically bad or intrinsically good in the characteristics typical of either camp. But conservatives tend to lean one way, liberals the other.” Then he calls on scads of liberal research to show his readers that conservatives are kinda mean, kinda paranoid sheeple crippled with sexual anxiety.
Our first problem is that we don’t listen to our betters. Conservatives are “disproportionately skeptical of evidence provided by ‘experts’ and scholarly studies.” So some of us “project their own anger onto others, fantasizing that people of color, immigrants, and feminists are the cause of their own inner torments. Anger, if nothing else, makes them feel bigger and more powerful.” Wonder why we’d be so skeptical of experts like Ehrenreich?
On the other hand, “conservatives accept or even embrace authority that is perceived to be legitimate.” (Legit like psychology profs?) They “tend to be more moralistic and more conventional than liberals,” and have a “stronger need for order and control and stability and a greater dislike of change.” We value equality less than libs, we have less empathy, we believe human nature is bad, we like for things to make sense and we are “less centered on fairness and kindness and more on loyalty, deference to authority, and moral and sexual purity.” So we aren’t into snotty, traitorous sluts. That used to be a virtue.
Then there’s this gem: “They also tend to repress their own aggressive and sexual impulses more and to identify with aggressors. These forbidden impulses may be projected onto others, justifying the decision to see others as a source of danger and legitimizing aggressive responses.” Oooh, forbidden impulses!
This raises a question for Ehrenreich: “If conservatives respect authority and rules more than liberals and have a greater need for order, why wouldn’t they demand gun control rather than gun rights?”
There are a couple of ways to answer this. First, the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution is as legitimate an authority as you can find. Second, the conservative impulse for order stops far short of a police state -- far shorter than progressive social engineering dreams. That may have something to do with our understanding of man’s fallen nature (which Ehrenreich lists as a drawback above) or it could simply be decency and respect for the Constitution.
Predictably, Ehrenreich chooses neither answer. Instead, our anxiety (possibly heightened by our repressed sexual impulses, our Oedipus complexes, fear of clowns, the red bike we never got for Christmas, and maybe persistent bedwetting) makes conservatives “especially prone to exaggerate risks.”
And anyway, we might be in the sway of “identification with a charismatic political figure, such as a Ronald Reagan or a Donald Trump, who proclaims himself to be fighting the dragons on their behalf.” Or a messianic liberal figure like Obama who vows to “fundamentally” change the nation?
“Or they may reflect the shared beliefs of a specific organization or movement, in this case perhaps the Moral Majority and the Tea Party. These provide both a language and a narrative for beliefs.”
And Ehrenreich provides a language and narrative for liberal beliefs about conservatives. His progressive readers must be grateful for reminding them how superior they are to us risk-exaggerating, empathy-challenged, sexually anxious control freaks.