Tina Dupuy: A truce in moral superiority
The distinction of liberal or conservative often hinges on the association with the word “hypocrite.” To liberals, being a hypocrite is a mortal sin. There’s nothing worse than being accused of not living up to the standards you ascribe to. Hypocrite is a dirty word to call a liberal. It’s even worse than calling them “liberal.”
In contrast, conservatives see hypocrisy as proof they have morals even if they sometimes fall short of them; the important part is being pro-morality. To them, liberals have no standards which is why they never fail to live up to them. Conservatives are comfortable with a “do as I say, not as I do” approach to governing. (See: Every Republican lawmaker drawing a government paycheck while disparaging those on the federal dole.)
The longstanding ID of the Republican Party, Rush Limbaugh, while currently married to his fourth wife, told listeners, “The institution of marriage has been targeted for destruction, essentially, and the road to destroying it is being paved.” He was referring to gay marriage, calling it immoral. Divorce, being the technical and literal destruction of marriage, never came up.
Conservatives don’t like the homosexual lifestyle because of its alleged promiscuity, so naturally, Republicans are against homosexuals being able to marry each other.
This is why the stock character of the closeted gay conservative lawmaker who’s publicly anti-gay is so pervasive. They are really opposed to homosexuality as a lifestyle. It’s immaterial that they themselves are gay — it’s what they believe that’s important. There’s a morality disconnect. If you bring it up to a conservative they’ll counter, “Would you prefer we have no values at all?”
As if those are the only two options.
Liberals believe morals should be egalitarian — everyone judged equally by the same standards — rich and poor, black and white, old and young, gay and straight. Conservatives think there’s merit in forcing their morals upon others, that they’re keeping some version of the Garden of Eden alive by evangelizing its existence. “We used to be better. Let’s get back to that time.” Or perhaps when you’re a Republican, it’s working toward morality that satisfies the requirement of being moral.
“There likely is no senator who has been before the Senate Ethics Committee more often than Sen. David Vitter. He has solicited prostitutes, employed a known criminal, and tried to bribe a Cabinet member,” said CREW Executive Director Melanie Sloan. The Republican is currently running for governor of Louisiana. Mark Sanford, former governor of South Carolina and Appalachian Trail aficionado, just won his old seat back in Congress. Tennessee Republican Congressman Scott DesJarlais, a physician by trade, has had several documented affairs with his patients. In West Virginia they have a Republican candidate for the local board of education (of all things), former State Senator Vic Sprouse, who’s been divorced four times and skipped out on child support for his seriously ill son. And these aren’t even scandals. These are just Republicans whom other Republicans have voted for.
If homosexuality ceased to be considered a sin and all Americans were judged by the content of their character instead of whom they love, it’d be hard for Republicans to find people to be morally superior to. We’d go back to being scandalized by the way people treat one another, not by which gender they’re attracted to. This is what makes liberals nuts: hypocrisy. All those aforementioned politicians are all in states where gays can’t be legally married. To be the self-appointed standard-bearer of morality, yet hold their personal lives to different metrics, is what the Republican Party has come to stand for.
I propose a truce. Liberals can stop dismissing Republicans as hypocrites and Conservatives can allow homosexual couples the legal right to be as bad to a spouse as some Republican incumbents.
Tina Dupuy is managing editor of Crooks and Liars. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.