They can’t conceive of anyone disagreeing with them

They can't conceive of anyone disagreeing with them

by digby

I have been declaring the concept of hypocrisy dead for a long time. Amanda Marcotte takes it a step further and exposes their motive and I think she's nailed it:

Republicans are something worse than hypocrites. They are political nihilists, who use scandals like this to further their agenda of emptying politics of any morality, hope or substance, clearing the path for a naked power grab.

First, the facts: Last week, a trolly right-wing website published a photo, taken from Northam's personal page in his 1984 medical school yearbook, that shows one man in blackface and another in a KKK-style hood. At first, Northam admitted to being in the photo and apologized. Then backtracked, claiming that neither of the people in the picture was actually him, while also admitting to have done blackface at another point to impersonate Michael Jackson.

Then allegations were published -- by the same website -- that Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax, who would replace Northam if he resigned, had been accused of sexual assault. Shortly after that, Fairfax's accuser, a California academic and a Democrat who seems to have no relationship to Fairfax outside of this one encounter, released a public statement that is both credible and disturbing.

Third in line is Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring, who then stepped forward and admitted to doing blackface in college. This time, the story isn't being driven by right-wing blogs, but it seems likely that Herring decided it was wise to get ahead of the story before any photos came out.

Without a doubt, these scandals are the result of a coordinated political attack by right-wing forces who are mobilizing to prevent Democrats from passing legislation supporting women's equality. So even as many Democrats agree there should be serious political consequences for these three men, they are also calling Republicans hypocrites for their outraged denunciations.

They have a point. After all, the same conservatives who are professing outrage over stories of racist behavior and sexual misconduct supported Republicans Ed Gillespie and Corey Stewart in their statewide campaigns -- for governor and U.S. senator, respectively -- even though both made overt appeals to racism and Stewart has ties to fringe white nationalist groups. These same conservatives largely support Trump, of course, and were quick to defend Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh from allegations that were strikingly similar to the ones now raised against Fairfax.

But I'd argue that what Republicans are up to here is more sinister than garden variety hypocrisy. Their larger purpose is to push the idea that no one actually cares about racism or sexism, and that all protestations to the contrary are just postures that liberals adopt for political gain. Their strategy is to seed the notion that everyone is a bigot motivated by greed and naked self-interest, so they can then turn around and hold Republicans out as slightly better because hey, at least they're honest about it.

That's what all the discourse about "political correctness" is ultimately about. Intrinsic to these complaints about is the idea that people who seek to enforce social norms against racist or sexist slurs are not motivated by sincere moral conviction but by a will to power. That's why the related term "virtue signaling" has taken off in right wing  circles. That refers to the idea that no one actually believes in their professed egalitarian values, but only say they do in order to gain status and power.

This was the premise of Donald Trump's entire campaign and now his presidency: He was smashing through the strictures of "political correctness" and freeing people to admit their true racist and sexist nature. This premise requires painting his opponents as disingenuous. Otherwise, the "politically incorrect" would have to admit that they're just bigoted bullies, rather than righteous freedom fighters struggling against hypocritical moral scolds.

The idea that everyone is a bigot but only conservatives are man enough to admit it was essentially the argument Trump made in his State of the Union address to defend building a border wall.

"Wealthy politicians and donors push for open borders while living their lives behind walls and gates and guards," Trump said. The implication was clear: Liberals are a pack of hypocrites who say they want  racial diversity but actually wall themselves up in enclaves of privilege. So conservatives should build a border wall as a way of sticking it to those phonies.

One of their most delusional beliefs is that everyone secretly agrees with them.  Liberals' unwillingness to admit that means they can be destroyed by any means necessary.