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Blue State Blues: The Purpose of Liberal Paranoia

I explain the current state of liberal paranoia as follows.

Imagine that you have broken up with your girlfriend, or boyfriend (or husband/wife). The relationship just wasn’t working out, for whatever reason. You former significant other then accuses you of cheating, and claims that the only reason you are breaking up is to avoid facing the truth.

The accusation is false, but there is no way to disprove it. Your former lover insists on it, believes in it, tells other people about it — but it is simply not the case.

The false narrative is very damaging to you, obviously. But it serves a crucial purpose for the other person: it allows them to avoid confronting the real reason for the breakup, and the pain of rejection. It also allows them to move on more quickly, by hating you.

Believing, falsely, that you were cheating also means that your ex may never confront the real reason for the split, and therefore never grow or change. Yet the lie may just be a temporary crutch until he or she is strong enough to face reality.

The same psychology appears to be at work in liberal Democrats’ paranoid fantasies about the election.

Thanks to outright lies by mainstream media outlets, and the partisan groupthink that social media has enabled, many liberals are convinced that the incoming Trump administration is a reincarnation of the Third Reich. Some, like actor George Takei, are actively raising cash for the Democrats from the delusion that President-elect Trump wants to round people up and send them to internment camps.

In their minds, Breitbart News is at the core of a bizarre conspiracy to install a fascist dictatorship in the United States. That plot may include Russian hackers intervening to give more votes to Trump in swing states, or creating an empire of “fake news” sites to fool gullible Americans into voting Republican.

Each of these conspiracy theories falls apart when examined closely: NPR, for example, found that the “godfather” of “fake news” sites is a liberal Democrat. But reality and facts simply do not matter.

Yes, there are extremists who are trying to exploit Trump’s victory — and the mainstream media is collaborating with them to exaggerate their importance.

Liberals need these conspiracy theories because they are still recovering from the shock of Hillary Clinton’s defeat November 8. They were misled by pundits into believing that Trump was hopeless — and they were also misled by the Clinton campaign into thinking of his supporters as “deplorables” motivated by hate. The second myth is no more true than the first, but it is the only thread holding the liberal worldview together at the moment.

There is, in a perverse way, something potentially useful in it. Healthy democracy requires political opposition. At its core, that opposition cannot merely be about partisan loyalty, but must actually cultivate a clear alternative set of ideas.

By defining — or demonizing — Trump, the left is beginning the process of finding a basis for opposition, however contrived, that can guide it through the difficult months ahead.

But building an opposition around lies is also dangerous, because it may allow the left to ignore the real reasons that it lost. One of the most important reasons is that the left’s statist policies of redistribution have long since ceased to be relevant to the real needs of struggling Americans.

Another reason is that the left’s embrace of identity politics and political correctness has alienated much of the country. The Democrats do not seem to understand that yet — and they may not be ready to face up to it.

In addition, false accusations are deeply toxic, and deepen the divisions in our country. Those divisions do not stay at the political level, but run deep, down to the personal level as well.

You can forget most of the lies your ex needs to believe, because you may never have to see him or her again. But we are all in the same country together, and so political lies are difficult to escape.

They are dividing families at a time when Americans ought to be coming together. They ought to stop.

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