Most people think governing---running a country, running a state, running a town---is easy. And they’ll be glad to tell you how easy it is and how to do it.
“Just do the right thing,” they’ll say.
As if everybody knows what the right thing is or as if there might not be several right things to choose from and no agreement as to which is the rightest right thing or as if there might be situations in which there is no right thing, just a bunch of not totally wrong things and no way to know which is the least not totally wrong.
But, really, what they mean by “Do the right thing” is “Do what I’m sure I’d do if I was in charge.”
Liberals should know better than to make this argument. We pride ourselves on our pragmatism and our rationalism. We boast of being part of the “reality-based community.” We’re supposed to know ourselves and know how the world works.
But we forget. Most of us don’t really understand the science and the math we claim to base our opinions on. We don’t understand how money works any better than conservatives do. We have our own conventional wisdoms and let ourselves be swayed by our pundits and analysts, forgetting that for the most part they are just telling us what we already believe. We can’t count or we just don’t bother to. We have a faith in education that is a form of snobbery. The fact someone has an degree from a prestigious college carries an awful lot of weight with us, particularly if we’re the ones who have that degree. We are overly impressed by intellectualism and believe that if an idea is “smart” enough it is persuasive just on that basis alone, which leads us into thinking that anybody who isn’t persuaded must be stupid. And we are convinced that if an opinion is stated eloquently and forcefully and with conviction it will carry the day.
And we’re vain. We’re vain about how smart we are. We’re vain about how principled we are. We’re vain about how right we’ve been about so many things in the past. And we’re easily self-deceived by our vanity.
So we get full of ourselves and say it. “Just do the right thing.” And mean exactly what everybody else means when they say it. “Do what I’m sure I’d do if I was in charge.”
That’s the problem with liberals.
We’re as human as everybody else.