Ego v. id

Ego v. id

: Robert Samuelson says in the Washington Post that it’s not red v. blue or issue v. issue; it’s psychological:

“Every liberal [thinks he’s] intellectually superior to conservatives,” Paul Begala, a former Clinton administration official, remarked on CNN. “Every conservative I know wants to think of himself as morally superior.” Though these are generalizations (as Begala admitted), they represent real psychological imperatives. Politics increasingly strives to feed these self-images. The easiest way to make your people feel better is to cast their people as immoral, stupid, evil, corrupt or greedy. Politics, news and entertainment merge, because all seek to satisfy psychological needs….

Although America isn’t polarized, our political and media elites are working hard to make it so.


  • George

    “Every liberal [thinks he’s] intellectually superior to conservatives”
    Well, he is. Go here:
    Hey, the numbers don’t lie. Couple that with the distorted sense of reality which is rampant amongst Bush supporters (, and things suddenly make a lot of sense.

  • What is scary is the way academia is becoming off limits to people of a conservative bent. Try being a conservative sociologist, English instructor, historian or political scientist. You will not advance under the PC regime so you go to work for right-wing think tanks, whereupon you will be attacked as a flack for corporate interests.

  • I think the key word in this wise indictment is “easist”: lowest-common-denominator thinking is always the easy sell, isn’t it? We Americans love our thank-you-drive-thru.
    Excellent quote. Thanks for posting.

  • Kat

    There are too many idiots that make democrats look like a bunch of pompous A-holes. Rall is one of them. You don’t need to toot your own horn if you are intelligent. Obviously, Rall isn’t.

  • Tom O.

    I believe this Ego vs. Id thing ties in with JJ’s Urban vs. Ex thing below. Reason: in areas with high population density, there is less of a feeling of privacy and greater exposure to new and often unfamiliar ideas and ways of thinking; in this environment, compromise is a necessary conflict deterrent, and to compromise effectively requires the ability to look at many sides of an issue and come to a conclusion acceptable to as many people as possible. In areas of low population density, there is more privacy and there is less exposure to new and unfamiliar ideas and ways of thinking; in this environment, in the abscence of a compelling need for compromise as a conflict deterrent, a one-sided world view is not only encouraged but almost necessary for social survival, lest one wishes to risk being ostracized. To Summarize: low density population areas have a tendency to foster an exclusive, judgmental “us vs. them” view of the world; while high density population areas have a tendency to foster an inclusive, permissive “we are all in this together” view of the world. Thus it is natural that liberals view conservatives as having a limited and myopic view of the world while conservatives view liberals as intellectual elitists lacking a core set of moral values and beliefs.
    It may seem that the conservative point of view holds sway in our country today, but as population density increases it is likely the pendulum will swing in the other direction.

  • Tom, nice theory (& name!), but I’m sure it’s wrong.
    Finally, here’s a VERY IMPORTANT Winds of Change insight about counties where 99% of the votes were for one candidate.
    5 of those voted for Bush, 307 for Kerry: As an example, leaving out for the moment voters who voted for third-party candidates, the number of counties in the US in which more than 99% of voters voted Republican was five (out of 4533). The number of counties in which more than 99% of voters voted Democrat was 307.
    WoC Armed Liberal suspects these are heavy media concentration areas.

    Actually, the Left thinks it is BOTH intellectually AND morally superior. I’m pretty sure that higher density makes it EASIER to avoid any meaningful contact with the other classes. Homeless beggars, strangers going the other way, people I don’t know who don’t care about me (AND are in MY way) — where’s my friend in this jam packed place, anyway?

  • Jake

    For a minute there I thought Kat actually had something intelligent and thought-provoking to say, then I realized I was reading Tom O.’s post — good post Tom, you may be on to something.

  • Tyler

    “‘Every liberal [thinks he’s] intellectually superior to conservatives'”
    “Well, he is. Go here:
    I don’t see how any liberal could think he or she’s intellectually superior to anyone – after all, they are the ones who seem to leap onto any of these hoaxes (Lovenstein etc) without any intellectual rigor.

  • Tim

    There needs to be an updating of the paranoid style of politics with an analysis of both the Left and Right.
    When the media is reporting that the rhetoric on the Left has people committing suicide and getting psych help based on the election, it should be a cause for concern. I think it is a tabloid narrative and a result fed by a crescendo of tabloid narratives in the press.

  • Tom O.

    Re Liberals thinking they are intellectually superior, Conservatives thinking they are morally superior: I think it’s less a case of either group actually thinking they are superior so much as their respective perspectives make them come off as though they think they are superior.
    When a garden-variety Liberal expresses disdain for others whom they regard as self-righteous, closed-minded dogmatists, it comes off as intellectual superiority.
    When a garden-variety Conservative expresses disdain for others whom they regard as placing progressive social agendas ahead of personal convictions, it comes off as moral superiority.
    Mind you, this broad generalization excludes the extremists of both camps, who by dint of their near-absolute confidence in the inherent ‘rightness’ of their viewpoints actually have more in common with each other than they know, namely: their inability to see beyond the confines of their own ideologies.

  • Ben

    I agree that many Liberals may not necessarily feel intellectually superior, as many Conservatives may not feel morally superior. The problem is the extremists have the microphone right now, and are making it seem as if all on their side share their disdain for others

  • Begala is pretty much agreeing here with Jon Stewart’s characterization of Crossfire. What a convert :)

  • pragmatist

    Left-wing = Arrogance
    I see it every day here at the University. “Of
    course we all voted this way. We are ever so
    much smarter than those Bush supporters.” was
    a frequent comment I heard last week.
    Which almost makes me ashamed that I still
    have my “Kerry for President” bumper sticker
    up in a very prominent position on my wall.
    I have found that those who continually
    belittle others with opposing viewpoints
    are really masking a huge inferiority complex.
    That goes for all “intellectual”, “racial”,
    “moral” or “religious” bigots.

  • constant

    That does not describe the anti-war liberal crowd. Their opposition to the war is moral, not intellectual. It does not describe the pro-choice liberal crowd. They think that the struggle over a woman’s body is a tremendously moral issue and they think the enemies of choice want to take over control of a woman’s body, surely an evil, aggressive thing rather than a stupid, clumsy thing. Nor does it describe the pro-free-market conservative crowd. A lot of these people are economically literate and so they understand something of how the market works, and they consider the enemies of the market to be wrong-headed. And when I read defenses of the Iraq war, and criticisms of the Iraq war, the defenses tend to be rather cool headed while the criticisms are of people just condemning and damning to hell the occupation, highly emotionally charged, moral attacks.
    Look at this “I’m sorry” website. Does this look like a symposium of self-professed physics Nobel prize candidates?
    No, for these people obviously this issue is moral, moral, moral, from beginning to end. I’m looking at one where we see a little girl and a dialog balloon inserted no doubt by one of the parents saying “I’m sorry no one listened when I said George Bush is a BAD GUY.” That is an expression of *moral* superiority. The guy clearly thinks he’s virtuous.
    Thomas Sowell has many of the liberals pegged in his book:
    _The Vision of the Anointed: Self-Congratulation As a Basis for Social Policy_
    A strong part of this self-congratulation that Sowell writes about is moral.