For some time now, I have been struggling to understand why so many good people tolerate rank dishonesty. Why do liberals, in particular, spout obvious mendacities? Worse still, why do they applaud fabrications from others? Shouldn’t they reject politicians who make a habit of propagating falsehoods?
Although I am sure that liberals make the identical complaint about conservatives, for the moment let us assume that there were lies about ObamaCare, the IRS, and the Trump dossier. Why have these not elicited the same sort of clamor, as occurred with Watergate?
When I was a clinician helping clients deal with their personal demons, a routine obstacle we faced was their denials. Despite themselves, these troubled souls refused to see what was there to be seen. The traumatic events they had experienced were so painful; they could not bear to relive them.
As I watch liberals refuse to acknowledge the failures of their political agenda, it is obvious that they too are in denial. They genuinely do not see what they could if they were able to tolerate the agony of recognizing that their dreams have turned to ashes.
In fact, we are witnessing the dominoes of denial. The repudiation of one painful truth requires the repudiation of another painful truth that were it admitted would tear away the façade of the first. And so denial begets denial, which begets denial, and so forth. Eventually a tissue of lies produces a Potemkin village of untruths.
This habit of progressive deceit goes way back. It has its roots centuries ago. But let us start with Barack Obama. (I am tempted to begin with Bill Clinton, but let this pass.) Obama was a master of misdirection. He boasted about being transparent, but was the least transparent chief executive in living memory.
Donald Trump is currently lambasted for his alleged duplicity. Nothing he does is exempt from liberal criticism. Whether it is his tax cut, or dealings with North Korea, or immigration policy, he is depicted as a felon and a fraud. In short, he is regarded as a monster.
Obama, in contrast, could do nothing wrong. Did he lie about Benghazi? Well, not really. Did race relations go sour on his watch? Well, that was because of white privilege. Did ObamaCare fail to live up to its advance billing? This was clearly the fault of the Republicans. Did the economy stagnate? Obviously, no one could have done better.
In other words, the amount of denial regarding Obama’s shortcomings is massive. Because he was perceived as our first black president, liberals could not allow him to fail. This might cast aspersions on an entire race—which was completely unacceptable.
Yet this cover-up begat additional cover-ups. Were Trump to be appreciated as undoing much of Obama’s mischief, it would be necessary to admit that Barack was not perfect. It might be necessary, for instance, to acknowledge that the economy could have done better with fewer regulations.
Obama is still bragging about how corruption free his administration was, whereas we are learning about how he, and is cronies, weaponized the FBI, the Justice Department, and the CIA. In order to obscure these embarrassing facts, Trump and his allies must be depicted as more corrupt.
This practice of disguising failures by inventing rival failures does not end. Were Russian collusion confessed to be a fabrication, Obama’s complicity in creating it might come to light. That cannot be allowed to happen. It might unravel decades of liberal exaggerations.
The scales will not fall from liberal eyes because they would have to accept their limitations. They could not continue to fool themselves into believing that they are more intelligent and compassionate than their foes. How then would they congratulate themselves for being special?
Denial is a commonplace defense mechanism. We all use it. It has become standard operating procedure for liberals because they have so many failings to conceal. Not the least of these is the dishonesty that their deteriorating fairytales forced them to employ.
With my clinical clients, the objective was to help them become sturdy enough to confront excruciating realities. What sort of therapy must we now perform with liberals? My guess is that this will have to be strong medicine.
Melvyn L. Fein, Ph.D.
Professor of Sociology
Kennesaw State University