Conservatives care about logic. Liberals care about emotion. Conservatives care about whether a program works or not. Liberals care about how supporting a program makes them feel. Conservatives take the positions they do because they believe they’re best for society. Liberals take the positions they do because they make them feel and look compassionate or superior to hold those positions.
Once you understand those basics, it’s very easy to see why both sides hold the positions they do on most issues and to comprehend why there’s so little middle ground. Once you get the mentalities, you can predict where each side will come down on issues.
An extremely expensive program designed to help disadvantaged minority children read better that has been proven not to work? Liberals will support it and conservatives will oppose.
A program that cuts the deficit by cutting people off the welfare and disability rolls who don’t belong there in the first place? Conservatives will support it and liberals will oppose.
A program called “Puppies for Orphans” that hands out “therapy dogs” to poor children at $100,000 per year in cost? Liberals will support it and conservatives will oppose.
The problem with all of this is that most of what passes for “compassion” with liberals isn’t real compassion. There’s a cost to real compassion and thus, a limit to it.
For example, let’s say Bill Gates makes $10 billion this year and gives away $500 million. Meanwhile, a middle class accountant makes $50,000 and gives away $5,000. We could argue about who’s more compassionate. After all Bill Gates gives away more, but the accountant gives away a bigger percentage of his income. Furthermore, there are limits to what both men can and should do. If Gates gives away so much money that Microsoft goes out of business and the accountant gives away so much money he loses his home, we’d consider them to be fools. Compassionate fools, but fools. This creates limits on what truly compassionate people can do. Many people talk about compassion, but only a few are going to go work overseas like Mother Teresa, consistently give 10% of their income to charity, or adopt orphaned boys.
On the other hand, 99 times out of 100, liberals’ “compassion” is nothing more than “virtue signaling.” They’re offering to take your money and give it to someone else. They’re offering to take rights away from other people that they don’t care about. They’re saying people are racist, bigoted, sexist or homophobic for disagreeing with them.
It’s cost-free for someone to talk about how much he hates racism because racism is almost universally despised in America. There is no price to be paid for attacking a zoo that made the difficult decision to shoot a gorilla because a boy had fallen into his pen. If you’re not a Christian and have no moral qualms about gay marriage, it’s easy to call for the law to crack down on bakers or wedding photographers who refuse to participate because they find it morally repulsive.
The problem with all this pointless virtue signaling is that because there is no real cost to it, there are no limits to it. As long as liberals lose nothing by advocating a position, but get credit for being compassionate for taking it, why not go for it?
This creates a situation where people have to keep on upping the ante to stand out. If racism is almost universally despised, how do you get credit for being more sensitive about race than other people? You find new things to call racist. Eventually, when liberals moved beyond parody when it came to race issues, they showed they were compassionate by obsessing over the 3% of the American population that’s gay. Then from there, they became maniacally focused on the .3% of the population (if that) that claims to be transgender.
If every single thing on the liberal wish list for minorities, gays and transgenders were to happen tomorrow, a new list of demands or some new series of pet groups that need to be protected would spring up almost instantaneously. That’s because it’s not about the specifics; it’s about an arms race between liberals trying to signal their virtue by being willing to go further than other people in being conspicuously compassionate while getting in some cheap shots on their political opponents at the same time.
The problem with this is that compassion, real or fake, has little to do with what makes a society successful. Capitalism is not warm and fuzzy. Contrary to what some people seem to believe, diversity and sensitivity to women’s issues are not what makes a military successful. In fact, the most effective policies are often not very forgiving or compassionate. So, when you have a large block of the country that completely abandons what works for whatever makes liberals feel good and look more “compassionate,” it creates enormous amounts of dysfunction. It’s like picking which car you’re going to drive in a race because of the paint job. A paint job isn’t irrelevant, but it’s also not going to win the race for you. Unfortunately, people with this mindset are only able to figure out that they’re doing something wrong after the car crashes and the whole country is along for the ride.