Liberals can't handle guilt
To put it bluntly, liberals can't handle guilt. They live with an uncomfortable tension. They ambivalently believe they deserve to feel guilty because they're sort of sure they are. After all, they are Democrats. When a Democrat friend leaves the table in a huff at Starbucks, that's what's worrying him.
At the height of COVID-19, Democrats' guilt anxiety was especially obvious as they hassled their fellow citizens to put those masks on. Last summer as we walked from the post office parking lot, a man chastised my wife for being insufficiently masked. Minutes later, ahead of us in line, the same man stepped up to the Plexiglas barrier. He got two words out before the clerk interrupted: "Sir, you need to pull your mask up over your nose." Caught off guard, he said, "Oh, yes, of course."
Likely he was a liberal Democrat. He acted like one. Democrats recognize that what they should do, they would rather not do, and so they mostly don't. They fret but are obliviously lax — hence their anxious tension. They release that tension by pompously policing strangers on the street such as my wife.
The other piece of liberal Democrats' guilt is their ineffectual attempt at its expiation. Is that not the purpose of virtue-signaling? People who shift about in their hard "guilt chairs" are happy to nudge them over to others. How else can one interpret a sign in the window of an apartment that reads, Hate Has No Home Here? The syllogism implied is that hate exists, just not in [my] home; therefore, it must exist in [your] home.
That too-familiar yard sign, We Follow the Science, is self-inoculation by someone who is anxiously uncomfortable. Let's parse it. "We" suggests a peer group. "Follow" suggests approval by that peer group, and "The Science" suggests not just any old science but a noble science born of serious consensus. One has to be pretty uncomfortable to require that level of support group; a kind of "consensus anonymous."
Recently the APA (American Psychological Association) posted its own guilt-expiation statement announcing that it had "failed in its role leading the discipline of psychology, was complicit in contributing to systemic inequities, and hurt many through racism, racial discrimination, and denigration of communities of color, thereby falling short on its mission to benefit society and improve lives."
Maybe APA stands for American Pathological Association.
To borrow from the CRT "style sheet," one could deconstruct the APA's apology as a deflection of its acknowledged systemic guilt onto the unconscious white privileged power structure. After all, they did admit to racial denigration complicity and hurt. Why trumpet such misanthropy? Why not just quietly improve? They needed someplace to dump their self-absorbed guilt and slough off that uncomfortable tension.
This brings me to Dr. Leon F. Seltzer, writing in Psychology Today, who sums it up.
It's hardly exemplary behavior to try to escape blame or criticism by "passing the buck." And projecting our mistakes, or misdeeds, onto others represents a psychological defense. ... A good deal of our anger is motivated by a desire not to experience guilt.
There is something sad and weak about liberal Democrats that they can't muster owning their human agency. With predictability, they default to blaming others while they hide behind constructs of virtue camouflage.
Spruce Fontaine is an artist and retired college art instructor.
Image via Public Domain Pictures.
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