It's finally becoming clear to me how they do it.
How Right Wing bloggers, pundits, radio and TV blowhards, politicians, and security moms and soccer dads maintain their sense of moral superiority in the face of overwhelming evidence that they are not particularly moral at all.
First, you have to treat the easiset and most ordinary forms of good behavior, actions and practices that meet the most minimum standards of the definition of common decency, as if they were the most difficult and superhuman examples of virtuousness.
Being faithful to your spouse is their favorite.
Hating terrorists is another one.
But giving to the local chapter of the United Way, not letting your kids play violent video games or watch the Playboy channel, volunteering to help out at the church bazaar, shoveling your sick elderly neighbor's driveway, working hard at your job, not frequenting crack houses, not robbing liquor stores, not being too poor to own a car so you can't leave town before a hurricane hits and not getting trapped in a flooded city and not being desperate enough to break into an abandoned store and steal a case of bottled water, which, as we all know, is exactly as depraved as breaking into an abandoned store to steal a TV set so it's ok to talk as if the several people you saw on TV stealing televisions---or heard your favorite Right Wing Media Blowhard say they saw on TV---outnumber by thousands the people who stole bottled water, all this counts as moral action the angels would have to struggle to achieve.
You can also elevate neutrally self-interested acts and beliefs to the level of virtues. Wanting your kids to go to a good college, belonging to certain clubs and organizations, living in the suburbs, driving a big gas guzzling car for reasons of "safety," happening to have a job at a company with a well-funded 401k plan so you can congratulate yourself on your thrift, prudence, and foresight---nevermind the massive credit card debt and the huge mortgage payments on the McMansion; both are signs of how determined you are to see that your family is well-taken care of.
Voting Republican because Republicans are against Big Government programs that just encourage dependency in the Poor, that's another good one. The lower taxes that result for you are just gravy.
You call all this---which from an objective point of view looks like you're just leading a safe, comfortable, upper-middle class life in a bedroom community free of any immediately pressing financial need to misbehave and with your wife, kids, and neighbors constantly there to look over your shoulder so you can't get a chance to talk alone with the pretty young divorcee up the block and your boss hovering every time that flirty saleswoman from Snapit-fast drops by the office---you call all this leading a moral life.
You can throw in loving America, believing in God, and watching sports, if you like, and you do like.
Now comes the most important part. This is the sign that you are a true saint on earth. You go about loudly approving of it all. It doesn't truly count unless you talk about how good it is to be good in the ways you happen to be good.
From there, the next step is easy.
You simply have to believe that Liberals don't approve of any of it.
It would be a lot more rewarding if you could believe that Liberals don't practice any of those virtues. Some of those guys at work, the loudmouth on the radio in the morning as you drive to the office, your brother-in-law, they seem to believe it. But you know the evidence is against you on that one.
There's that damn Jimmy Carter, to begin with.
And you'd also like to believe that even if some Liberals have some virtues, all good Right Wingers like you, or most of them anyway, have all those virtues and practice them more diligently and more consistently.
But then there's Newt Gingrich. And Rush Limbaugh is a junkie, no matter what he says. And your brother is running around on his wife, your old boss, who was in your fraternity, for Christ's sake, just got caught stealing from the company, your own daughters drink and party too much and one of them may have had an abortion, you're not sure, because she hasn't spoken to you in years, and you yourself haven't been to church in God knows how long and, admit it, you hate NASCAR, it's boring and the people who wear all that NASCAR gear everywhere, they're kind of stupid and tacky and you're really kind of ashamed they vote Republican.
And, don't forget, there was that time at the sales convention in Minneapolis and the rep from Snapit-fast and you stayed late at the bar...you've still got her home phone number too.
So you can't really believe Right Wingers are better behaved than Liberals.
But you know that Liberals are uncomfortable talking about all that stuff as if it matters. You know they reflexively make excuses for people who don't manage the same high level of morally superior behavior as you do, even if you don't go to church, and anyway, your wife goes, and she takes the kids, and maybe you'll go with them next week, so, dammit, you are a religious guy, after all. You know Liberals like to see people burning flags and they love abortion and they don't care if the world is awash in pornography.
You know they watch stuff like Sex and the City and Deadwood and Desperate Housewives. Well, so do you, the first two, and your wife loves Desperate Housewives, which makes you uneasy for some reason, why does she laugh so hard, anyway? But you also watch good stuff, like The Medium, when you remember it's on, and you take your kids to good wholesome movies like March of the Penguins, or you will this weekend or your wife will or you'll buy the DVD when it comes out, whatever. You know Liberals won't go see it or if they do---your stupid cousin, the ex-hippie who teaches Women's Studies, she took her kids---even if they like it, you know they don't draw the right lessons from it. They don't see it as a metaphor for marriage. They talk about evolution, crap like that.
They don't believe in the sanctity of marriage. So what if half the couples you used to pal around with at the country club are divorced now. Liberals don't care about the divorce rates. They don't care if anybody gets married at all. Not any straight people, anyway. They love it when Adam marries Steve or Eve marries Eva, though, don't they? And you know if they found out about you and the rep from Snapit-fast they wouldn't be shocked or appalled. Except for the lesbians among them. Lot of those.
You know they hate sports and they make fun of fathers and don't want them to have any rights and they think women should have kids without getting married and they think anybody who believes in God is stupid.
You know that even if some of them aren't bad themselves they don't approve of good behavior. In fact, they disapprove of it. They must. Otherwise, they'd talk about it all the time, wouldn't they, about all the smut, and drugs, and sex? They may not be evil and depraved themselves but they are allowing the country to go to the dogs with their attitudes and ideas and their policies and their failure to constantly scold and complain about other people's immoral behavior the way you do.
And that's why you're better than them.
So the next time that snotty woman from advertising shoots a hole in your arguments about how universal health care is bad for poor people or the boss likes her idea about what to do with the Karner account better than yours, you can just congratulate yourself on how much a more moral person you are.
She's probably a lesbian anyway.