Looking Left and Right: The Broad Brush # 7 (Lost)


[NOTE] In this “Liberal LiesBroad Brush series+, I’m offering observations, examples, and comments about our Left versus Right conflicts and the stereotypical attitudes we carry about “the other side.” Insights on related topics/themes will help to shape our understanding about why we’re so fiercely partisan, the consequences, and suggestions as to different approaches.

If we don’t recognize and accept that bitter partisanship is not always the wisest or most beneficial strategy, the goal of a better future will forever be as far away tomorrow as it is today.

[Discussing a study by and quoting Lilliana Mason]:

‘[I]n terms of our attitudes towards issues, we are no more polarized than we were decades ago. But our emotions, and the behaviors they drive, have largely uncoupled from our actual analysis of the issues.’
Essentially, the Stony Brook University scholar argues, our identities have become increasingly intertwined with our political affiliation. As a result, we feel ever more certain that our party is right and the other is wrong—even in cases where their positions aren’t far apart.
Our attitude towards the opposing party has become, basically, tribal: We detest them simply because they’re the other side….
‘If your party is strongly aligned with your ideology (as is the case today), you are very biased in your assessment of the other party,’ she said. ‘That makes it very hard to have a kind, generous assessment of the other party’s intentions….’
That leaves the rest of us: People who feel kinship with our own side, distrust toward the other side, and wariness regarding compromise. [1]

The ideological ‘culture war in the U.S. is, in part, an honest disagreement about ends (moral values that each side wants to advance), as well as an honest disagreement about means (laws and policies) to advance those ends. But our findings suggest that there is an additional process at work: partisans on each side exaggerate the degree to which the other side pursues moral ends that are different from their own. Much of this exaggeration comes from each side underestimating the degree to which the other side shares its own values. But some of it comes, unexpectedly, from overestimating the degree to which typical members of one’s own side endorse its values….
[T]he moral stereotypes that liberals appear to have of conservatives: liberals see conservatives as being motivated by an opposition to liberals’ core values of compassion and fairness, as well as being motivated by their own (non-moral) values of ingroup loyalty, respect for authorities and traditions, and spiritual purity (they may be particularly likely to focus on issues in which these values come into conflict). This misperception is asymmetrical: conservatives did underestimate liberal moral concerns with the binding foundations, but they were no more likely to underestimate than liberals themselves. [2]

A few months ago came across a stunning display of right-wing perspective on policy. In an article by John Hawkins (“15 Lies of Liberalism”), the wide net he cast without troubling himself with facts or context was certainly impressive! While there are countless others expressing similar attitudes and commentary, this one struck a chord as a prime example of the stunning and—for those of us on the Left side of the divide—nearly incomprehensible and unrecognizable assessments about liberal and progressives.

The problem remains intact: how on earth do we all move forward if this kind of nonsense is the starting point for conversations? And if that’s the point, why is that acceptable?

~ ~ ~

Here’s a final look at John Hawkins’s “fascinating” assessment of Liberals and and examination of several more “lies”….[All quotes are from the referenced article unless indicated otherwise.]



(14) …small business owners were able to build their businesses because they were lucky. But of course, if that’s true, why do we have such a high unemployment rate? Why doesn’t everyone who loses his job just set up his business and grab that easy money? Since bankers don’t deserve the big salaries they make, why doesn’t the Occupy movement set up its own bank and show the ‘banksters’ how it’s done?

Huh? Seems that Mr. Hawkins took about a dozen wrong turns in succession and now has absolutely no clue where he is. After a complete and erroneous over-generalization in that first sentence, the rest of that paragraph disappeared into a rabbit hole of buzz word gibberish. This struck me as about as simplistic an approach as is humanly possibly to take every conservative sound bite about the economy and wrap it up in a handful of sentences. Who cares about the truth or context?

Without shame, those on the far Right continue to pursue the strategy of taking completely out of context a legitimate comment made by the President about successful businesses. The “you didn’t build that” comment, for anyone with 15 seconds of free time who would be interested in actually hearing/seeing what was actually said and not the cherry-picked and misleading version offered up by the likes of Mr. Hawkins, referred to the infrastructure and support offered to all. No business is an island, and without the means to transport goods, or protect business interests and contractual agreements though our court systems, etc., etc., no business could truly “succeed.”

But since telling the truth to supporters and allowing them to make up their own minds about issues of importance is verboten to GOP leaders and their media shills, we instead were treated to a disingenuous song and dance show as was debated and dissected ad nauseum by the media. What happened to integrity and honest debate?



(15) …you can fix crime by taking away guns, but by definition, the people who will voluntarily give up guns are law abiding citizens who have no intention of committing a crime in the first place. Besides, if that can work, why doesn’t Barack Obama set the example by asking his Secret Service agents to disarm?

Huh? This is now juvenile and inane territory … the kind of logic used by petulant fifth-graders. How do “arguments” like this help us move forward? Suggesting the Secret Service disarm? Sorry, but that is a monumentally stupid statement which has absolutely nothing to do with the topic of gun control, but why focus on the facts when you can float out into the clouds on wings of inane irrelevancies? Feed the paranoia is a strategy that almost always works to perfection. Too bad it’s utterly devoid of any semblance of character or decency.

Taking guns away” is a wonderful sound-bite to stir up the uninformed. Should we care that it’s a lie?

In the politics as warfare perspective standard norms of honesty are irrelevant. Lying and the use of false propaganda are considered necessary and acceptable. The ‘truth’ is what serves to advance the party’s objectives [3]

Nice….Imagine political conversations and policy debates with honesty and integrity as a foundation instead of nonsense. What a concept!

So should we care that lies serve as the starting point for far too many discussions?

Perhaps we should….

Final scheduled post for 2013 {but see the Note below]
A new Thursday series will begin on January 9.
Enjoy the holidays!

 ~ My Photo: Good Harbor Beach, MA – August 2009


^ Watch for some new features debuting soon at this website:


This new column begins on February 3, 2014. It’s a slightly skewed look at life for those of us on the north side of 50.


A political thriller filled with unexpected plot twists and drawn from real world historical events, this eBook is scheduled for Publication on January 28, 2014. I’ll begin posting excerpts on January 6th. A few teasers will appear between December 16th and December 31st


(The inspiration for the other blog at this website). This eBook is scheduled for Publication on February 12, 2014. 
I’ll begin posting excerpts on January 15th. A few teasers will appear beginning right after Christmas


I’m a writer Looking Left and Right:
Inspiring Different Ideas, Envisioning Better Tomorrows
by sharing observations about the ideologies
which motivate our political, economic, and cultural discussions.

Be the change you want in the world – Gandhi

This blog is offered to encourage more enlightened public discourse—by sharing observations about the ideologies which motivate our political, economic, and cultural debates. The simple hope: shedding light on current “strategies” will prompt more of us to realize a different approach is at least worth considering … assuming a better future is worth pursuing. (It is!)

The world is not dangerous because of those who do harm, but because
of those who look at it without doing anything – Albert Einstein


[1] http://www.psmag.com/politics/our-increasingly-tribal-electorate-48977/; America’s Increasingly Tribal Electorate by Tom Jacobs – 11.01.12
[2] http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0050092; Graham J, Nosek BA, Haidt J (2012) The Moral Stereotypes of Liberals and Conservatives: Exaggeration of Differences across the Political Spectrum. PLoS ONE 7(12): e50092. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0050092 [Editor: Liane Young, Boston College, United States of America] – Published: December 12, 2012
[3] http://www.thedemocraticstrategist.org/strategist/2010/11/beyond_sabotage_-_the_central.php; from a Strategy Memo by Ed Kilgore, James Vega and J.P. Green – 11.30.10

+ links to the other posts in this series: