Why do people hold liberal-left positions? (Liberal and left were once very different, but not anymore.)
This question has plagued me because I have long believed that most people, liberal or conservative, mean well. Very few people wake up in the morning planning to harm society. Yet, many liberal positions -- I emphasize liberal positions rather than liberals because most people who call themselves liberal do not hold most contemporary liberal positions -- have been wreaking havoc on America and the world.
How, then, can decent and often very smart people hold liberal positions?
There are many reasons, but the two greatest may be naivete and narcissism. Each alone causes problems, but when combined in the same person, they are particularly destructive.
At the heart of liberalism is the naive belief that people are basically good. As a result of this belief, liberals rarely blame people for the evil they do. Instead, they blame economics, parents, capitalism, racism, and anything else that can let the individual off the hook.
A second naive liberal belief is that because people are basically good, talking with people who do evil is always better than fighting, let alone killing, them. "Negotiate with Saddam," "Negotiate with the Soviets," "War never solves anything," "Think peace," "Visualize peace" -- the liberal mind is filled with naive cliches about how to deal with evil.
Indeed, the very use of the word "evil" greatly disturbs liberals. It shakes up their child-like views of the world, that everybody is at heart a decent person who is either misunderstood or led to do unfortunate things by outside forces.
"Child-like" is operative. The further left you go, the less you like growing up. That is one reason so many professors are on the left. Never leaving school from kindergarten through adulthood enables one to avoid becoming a mature adult. It is no wonder a liberal professor has recently argued that children should have the vote. He knows in his heart that he is not really an adult, so why should he and not a chronologic child be allowed to vote?
The second major source of modern liberalism is narcissism, the unhealthy preoccupation with oneself and one's feelings. We live in the Age of Narcissism. As a result of unprecedented affluence and luxury, preoccupation with one's psychological state, and a hedonistic culture, much of the West, America included, has become almost entirely feelings-directed.
Dennis Prager is a SRN radio show host, contributing columnist for Townhall.com and author of his newest book, “The Ten Commandments: Still the Best Moral Code.”