The Good Book tells us that pride goes before a fall, and with the midterm elections looming perhaps nothing encapsulates the truth of this maxim more than the leadership of the Democrat Party and its constituency of liberal media elites. The Left’s inability to engage opposing views with seriousness and respect and their unwillingness to tolerate divergent opinions within their own ranks reveal an ugly intolerance lurking beneath their veneer of open-mindedness, an intolerance that has fueled the continued, rapid growth of the Tea Party and all but sealed the electoral fate of many Democrats come November 2nd.
A new series of advertisements for MSNBC on the airwaves this week capture perfectly the kind of paternalistic condescension that’s crippling the Left in the eyes of so many American people. The ads are intended to communicate the spirit of progress that guides the network, and to set MSNBC above and apart from it’s chief competition and ideological nemesis, Fox News. In airing these ads, MSNBC is essentially extending an invitation to the American people. “Join us” they say, in our quest to “move forward” towards a better America for all. There’s only one small problem. According the ideological litmus test imposed by the network, vast segments of the American population don’t qualify to participate in MSNBC’s vision.
Among the many images included in the ads is a snapshot of President Obama signing the health care legislation, a picture of two men exchanging wedding vows in a same-sex wedding ceremony, and footage of the First Family celebrating Obama’s nomination at the DNC convention in 2008. These are the kind of things MSNBC has in mind when it speaks of American society’s “evolution” towards a better tomorrow for all. Therefore, if you voted for John McCain, or opposed the Democrats’ health care legislation, or believe that marriage is only between a man and a woman, then you are a heartless, selfish, racist bigot who is anti-progress and anti-American. As anyone who’s ever tuned in to watch Chris Matthews or Rachael Maddow or Keith Olbermann knows, MSNBC’s vision of a “diverse” America does not include the conservative viewpoint.
The Left’s brand of tolerance was also recently on display at National Public Radio, where last week longtime news analyst Juan Williams was fired after he appeared on The O’Reilly Factor and expressed a “controversial” opinion about Muslims and September 11th. For daring to say aloud what many Americans think and feel in the post-9/11 age – namely, that boarding an airplane alongside individuals dressed in traditional Muslim garb makes him feel nervous – he was accused of violating NPR’s standards of journalistic ethics. Never mind the fact that 99% of Williams’ commentary on O’Reilly’s show that evening was in defense of a tolerant, sensitive approach to Islam, or that NPR’s other correspondents routinely color their reportingwith their own Liberal, hyper-partisan bent. For daring to depart from the accepted Liberal line, Williams had to go.
The Tea Party phenomenon, in particular, has the likes of Matthews, Maddow, and Olbermann sputtering with outrage and confusion. These commentators simply can’t fathom how anyone could support the ideas advanced by such backward neanderthals! President Obama and the Democratic leadership are similarly irritated by the ongoing success of the movement, and have – like their ideological brethren in the media – concluded that the only possible explanation for the American public’s lack of support is a combination of ignorance, fear, stupidity, and the evil influence of shadowy special interest money. David Brooks recently satirized the delusional hubris of the Democrats in a New York Times op-ed:
“Democrats are lagging this year because the country appears incapable of appreciating the grandeur of their accomplishments. That’s because, as several commentators have argued over the past few weeks, many Americans are nearsighted and ill-informed. Or, as President Obama himself noted last week, they get scared, and when Americans get scared they stop listening to facts and reason. . . . The Democrats’ problem, as some senior officials have mentioned, is that they are so darn captivated by substance, it never occurs to them to look out for their own political self-interest. . . . They see this campaign as a poetic confrontation between good (themselves) and pure evil (Karl Rove and his group, American Crossroads). As Nancy Pelosi put it at a $50,000-a-couple fund-raiser, ‘Everything was going great and all of a sudden secret money from God knows where – because they won’t disclose it – is pouring in’. . . . [T]his Lancelots-of-the-Left tale underlines a self-affirming message – that Democrats are engaged in a righteous crusade against the dark villain who tricked Americans into voting against John Kerry.”
Amidst all the mudslinging, rationalizing, and scapegoating, there hasn’t been much room for any substantive discourse across party and ideological lines; the Democrats simply refuse to engage on this level. The more America’s cohort of self-identified “Tea Party Patriots” continues to grow, the deeper the Left buries its collective head in the sand. One is reminded of Scarlett O’Hara’s famous method of dealing with the unpleasantness of reality: “I’ll think about it tomorrow!” With one week to go before the election, however, the time for Democrats to change course has all but run out.
Attorney Ken Connor is the Chairman of the Center for a Just Society in Washington, DC, and the former President of the Family Research Council. He served as counsel to Governor Jeb Bush in Bush v. Schiavo during the Terri Schiavo case, and is co-author of “Sinful Silence: When Christians Neglect Their Civic Duty.”