The Honesty Gap

Conservatives more honest than liberals? (Schweizer,

The headline may seem like a trick question — even a dangerous one — to ask during an election year. And notice, please, that I didn’t ask whether certain politicians are more honest than others. (Politicians are a different species altogether.) Yet there is a striking gap between the manner in which liberals and conservatives address the issue of honesty.

This doesn’t come as a shock to me based on my dealings with associates, even friends, of mine who would identify themselves with a left-leaning world view. Clearly it’s not fair to paint every person of either persuasion with this broad brush. I also know some very honest, kind, well-meaning leftists in my life. Lord knows I’ve had my own personal shortcomings, as well. The difference is, I suppose, that I will not try to defend, spin, or explain away my actions. I will take responsibility for them, pay restitution (in whatever form necessary), and try to put things back together.

The honesty gap is also not a result of “bad people” becoming liberals and “good people” becoming conservatives. In my mind, a more likely explanation is bad ideas. Modern liberalism is infused with idea that truth is relative. Surveys consistently show this. And if truth is relative, it also must follow that honesty is subjective.

Sixties organizer Saul Alinsky, who both Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton say inspired and influenced them, once said the effective political advocate “doesn’t have a fixed truth; truth to him is relative and changing, everything to him is relative and changing. He is a political relativist.” **

Well put. Naturally, if there is no truth, then any action taken can be justified. We have truthiness.

**In the interest of full disclosure, here’s the entire passage regarding the Alinsky quote from Rules for Radicals: A Pragmatic Primer for Realistic Radicals (New York: Random House, 1971).

An organizer working in and for an open society is in an ideological dilemma.  To begin with, he does not have a fixed truth—truth to him is relative and changing; everything to him is relative and changing.  He is a political relativist.  He accepts the late Justice Learned Hand’s statement that “the mark of a free man is that ever-gnawing inner uncertainty as to whether or not he is right.”  The consequesce is that he is ver on the hund for the causes of man’s plight and the general propositions that help to make some sense out of man’s irrational world.  He must constantly examine life, including his own, to get some idea of what it is all about, and he must challenge and test his own findings.  Irreverence, essential to questioning, is a requisite.  Curiosity becomes compolsive.  His most frequent word is “why?”

…the free-society organizer is loose, resilient, fluid, and on the move in a society which is itself in a state of constant change.  To the extent that he is free from the shackles of dogma, he can respond to the realities of the widely different situations our society presents.  In the end he has one conviction—a belief that if people have the power to act, in the long run they will, most of the time, reach the right decisions.  The alternative to this would be rule by the elite—either a dictatorship or some form of political aristocracy.

An interesting look into a leftist world view to say the least.  Incidentally, Rules for Radicals was dedicated to Lucifer; how droll.


3 thoughts on “The Honesty Gap

  1. Everyone lies. Everyone. That doesn’t justify intentional lies or in any way endorse the opinion that it’s okay to lie. Just simply a statement of fact. And while I suppose it’s possible to make statistics say anything (“there are lies, damn lies, and statistics”), it really does not have anything to do with party affiliation. Or skin color. Or religious preference. Or geographical location. Everyone lies.

  2. Surely “everyone lies” … I would expect someone to at least think that (let alone comment to that effect). It’s a product of our sinful nature with which we (some more than others) are at battle.

    The question is, “why?” What is the world view that shapes one’s justification that it’s all right to do so? It reminds me of the stupid t-shirt I’ve seen some people actually wear that says, “It’s not illegal unless you get caught.”

    In the end it goes back to character. That is, the things you do when no one is looking or has your knowldge of a situation.

    You’re right, I believe, that it doesn’t have anything directly to do with a particular association, geography, or shade of melanin. We can ALL choose to rise above the ease of dishonesty and be honest people.

    In the end, our character — what’s in our heart — guides our associations. This variety of statistics, likable or not, simply show relativism weighing more heavily in circles with a liberal world view.

  3. Sure. I think we basically agree; my point may have gotten buried in verbiage. Essentially, while I don’t dispute the statistics (although the whole “oh, goodie, yet another way to separate the citizens of one country into us v. them” theme tires), I do dispute the collection methods.

    I think these statistics largely show a black and white picture…which, ironically, may very well be why liberals are viewed as “dishonest.” There is no such thing as black and white. There is always gray. Saying Liberals are more dishonest than Conservatives and here’s the numbers! is much like asserting that Conservatives are generally less educated than Liberals, and here’s the numbers to prove it. Are there? Yes, there are recent studies to indicate that more people with education extending beyond high school fall under the category “liberal” or “progressive” than “conservative.” It paints an unflattering picture, and it’s specifically aimed to do so, IMO. Statistics can be misleading.

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