When I last left you, I was exploring the idea that times of crisis often reveal people’s character, and I had mentioned that this virus quarantine has revealed some flawed tendencies among conservatives, but more disturbing ones (IMHO) about leftists.
I mentioned virtue-signaling hypocrisy as the first of those character flaws.
The second is an affinity for totalitarian, micromanaging bullying. For examples, look at the way that red state governors have moved much more quickly to phase out the lock-down, while blue state governors are hanging on to their newly-minted powers like grim death. (And that’s not a gratuitous Nancy Pelosi reference.) (Although… sure. If the sarcophagus lid fits, wear it.)
Conservative governors have generally put more trust in their citizens’ ability to make their own decisions. While still calling for people to take precautions – wear masks, keep their distance, sanitize equipment, etc. – their general default has been to let people start to get back to work, as quickly as possible. Because they know that politicians are supposed to be our employees, not our bosses.
Blue staters, on the other hand – despite differences of conditions in their states, including population density and climate, among others – are extending lock-down waiting periods, and issuing more directives and dictates than the Politburo at the height of the Cold War. Gavin Newsom says that Californians can’t go to the beach. J.B. Pritzker says that Illinoisans can’t leave their houses (even as he blew a goodbye kiss to his horse-whisperer wife as she left her mansion to go to Florida). Chicago Mayor Lori “I feel pretty, oh so pretty” Lightfoot says that Chicagoans can’t get haircuts (right before she gets her “female George Jefferson” hairdo refreshed at an underground Supercuts Speakeasy, in the finest Chicago tradition of past Democrat greats like Al Capone).
Bill “Heinrich Wilhelm von Richthofen” DiBlasio tells New Yorkers that they can’t go to the gym… while he’s on the treadmill at a gym.
My favorite example is Governor Evita Whitmer in Michigan. This little princess extended the lockdown in her state until the end of May, and issued a helpful list of behaviors she would allow, and those she wouldn’t. On the naughty list, among other things, was paying someone to mow your lawn. You could buy a propane tank, but you couldn’t buy a propane grill. You could go to Lowes or Home Depot, but when there, you couldn’t buy paint or plants. In fact, you could go to Lowes, or Wal-Mart, or an abortuary… but you couldn’t go to church. Because nothing spreads the Kung Pao Sicken like reading aloud from the New Testament.
On her nice list? Pot bought at a weed shop (some plants are more equal than others, I guess), liquor bought at liquor stores, or lotto tickets bought anywhere. (I’m guessing it’s totally coincidental that three of the most profitable items for the state government of Michigan are pot, booze and lotto tickets?)
Whitmer’s rulings showcased the kind of byzantine micromanaging you might expect from quarrelsome rabbis disputing what constitutes “work” on the sabbath, rather than a directive from an elected representative of a free people. Consider this quote, which I am not making up: “The DNR states that “Non-motorized boating, such as canoeing, kayaking and sailing, falls within the outdoor activities permitted under the ‘Stay Home, Stay Safe’ Executive Order. However, the use of a motorboat, jet ski or similar watercraft is not permitted for the duration of the Executive Order.”
My first thought was that it was very appropriate for this twerp to be issuing a “do not resuscitate” order for her state’s economy, on which she was doing her best to pull the plug. But then I found out that the “DNR” in question refers to an order issued through the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.
Still, did you get that? You can go out onto a lake in a canoe, but not in a motorboat. Because the Chicom virus is apparently allergic to varnished wood, but it finds outboard motors absolutely irresistible!
The third lefty character flaw that has been revealed during this pandemic is a tendency to condescend to and demonize their opponents.
I know that this one is not exactly news. Even before the virus, you may have noticed that every objection to Obama’s bumbling was due to conservatives’ racism, and every objection to Hillary’s general terribleness was due to their sexism, and every objection to Grandma Squanto’s rantings was due to their fear of (to paraphrase Donna Brazile) “a Powerful Red Woman.” (#wemustneverstopmockingher) And you may have noticed that elite Dems were occasionally a tad bit condescending… you deplorable, transphobic, in-bred, trailer trash bitter clingers.
But the pandemic has highlighted the malevolence. If any of us want to get back to work before our society implodes, it’s not because we’ve grown fond of feeding our children or putting a roof over our head. And it’s not because we are trying to make rational calculations about the lives that will be lost to the virus (whether we stop the lockdown now or in June or in September) versus the hundreds of millions of lives that will be greatly damaged plus the tens of thousands of other lives lost (to depression, suicide, substance abuse, heart attacks, lack of access to medical help for other conditions, etc.) if we stay trapped in our homes by power-mad politicians for a year or more.
According to the Schumers and Cuomos of the world, it’s because we are greedy for all of those corporate profits. Also, we want to kill people.
Beneath all three of these flaws is a common thread of narcissism.
I’m not the kind of political partisan who sees intrinsic human flaws as unique to one side of the political divide. We are all latent narcissists at the very least; we are all the main characters in the story of our lives, and we view the world at least partially through the lense of “how will this affect me?”
And politicians are necessarily a narcissistic bunch. When you or I get up and look in the mirror in the morning, we think things like, “You know who is going to double-check that he’s wearing socks that match today? Me!” or “You know who’s about to make some toast without burning it? Me!”
But every presidential candidate in my lifetime has gotten up and looked at him or herself in the mirror – even if s/he had terrible breath, or “bed head,” or the cheap lipstick of a medium-priced hooker smeared on his big, fat, lying face (I’m looking at you, Bill Clinton) – and said, “You know who’d make a fantastic leader of the entire free world? Me!”
And that goes for all politicians, even the ones on our side. No one can reasonably argue that our current president is a shrinking violet in the ego department. (Quick: how many times have you been tempted to put your name – in giant, gold letters – on every building you bought, or built, or passed by?)
But conservatism – if actually adhered to – is a natural check on narcissism. Conservatives come in many flavors – religious conservatives, economic/fiscal conservatives, libertarian-leaning, etc. – but a general principle they share is the idea that “that government is best which governs least.” Government should do only a handful of things that we can’t do for ourselves, and most of our lives should be left up to us, with only enough laws and regulations to keep us from hurting others or violating their rights.
Leftism, on the other hand, magnifies and weaponizes the natural narcissism of politicians, and fans the flames of their innate hunger for power. It tells them that they are the elites, and know better than the unenlightened proles how those mopes should live. It encourages them in the pursuit of top-down, centralized planning of the economic system. And the criminal justice system. And the education system. And the metric system. And the solar system.
What could be more arrogant than making a list of which jobs are essential and which ones aren’t? How could anyone with an ounce of self-awareness sit down around a big table with a bunch of other people – who also probably never started a business, or raised a crop, or hung drywall, or cut hair, or bussed tables, or went to a trade school, or paid their own way through college – and confidently start deciding which jobs are important, which families should be allowed to financially survive, and which should be forced into bankruptcy and foreclosure and poverty?
Even if you had enough hubris to start doing that – because you were educated to believe that you know better than other people what a “living wage” is, and what a “fair share” is, and how much profit is “obscene” – wouldn’t you quickly get bogged down in details, and realize that you are on a fool’s errand, and in way over your head?
One silver lining is that we might have the chance to learn to appreciate federalism again. The Founders wanted the states to be “little laboratories,” and they’re becoming just that. Illinois is going to stay locked down, while Iowa and Indiana open back up. New York and Michigan are going to stay locked down, while Florida and Georgia open up. Let’s see who does better.
In the meantime, I’m encouraged by the protests that are starting up all around the country. I like to see California surf kids and Texas salon owners and Midwestern blue collar workers going all “don’t tread on me.” I hope to see some arrogant Democrat leaders find out that Americans won’t be pushed around for too long, before they start pushing back.
I only wish Joe Biden were alive to see it!
Avenatti/ the late Joe Biden 2020!