I was featured in the most recent episode of David Sehat's podcast Mindpop. The subject of our conversation was ostensibly "Has identity politics wrecked liberalism?" But in passing I did make another point: that liberals are frequently every bit as pompous, irritating and smug as the conservative caricatures make them out to be. This is not a new position for me. But it's one that has taken up more and more of my mental space since the Trump election had laid bare the liberal disinterest in explaining or justifying left-of-center ideas to anyone who doesn't already share them.
A case in point is this weekend's reaction to Kellyanne Conway's reference to the "Bowling Green Massacre," an event that never actually occurred. In response to this gaffe, liberals have unleashed a flood of smug self-congratulatory jokes on the subject. One can find a candlelight vigil for the victims of this nonexistent tragedy, a Facebook survivor check-in page, a fake folk song memorializing the event and a whole host of oh-so-clever tweets. Personally, I would prefer that liberals put their energy into crafting messages that could make their message clearer and more convincing so that they might resonate with the broad swaths of the country. But that apparently would not scratch the right itch.
Liberals have two primary modes of communication: outraged moralistic accusations and funny, sarcastic putdowns. Both do little more than preach to the choir. Neither will ever convince anyone to listen to a new point of view or to change his/her mind about a political issue. We've been on this road for a long time and it's only gotten us to a place that we don't particularly like. It's time to get off of it.
"When they go low," Michelle Obama said, "we go high." I'm not seeing it. Do better.