I love this cartoon because it is so typical of the lies that Republicans tell themselves. I really do think there is something fundamentally wrong with modern conservatism. It has nothing to do with ideas of liberty and is rather all about tribal alliances and authoritarianism. But I don’t doubt that Republicans are actual people. Day to day, I manage to interact with Democrats and Republicans. And I absolutely can’t tell which party someone belongs to based upon their morality. But I can usually guess based upon the fact that one is ostentatious about her morality. This is true of both Republicans and Democrats, but it is far more common among the Republicans.
For 90% of people’s moral sense, Democrats and Republicans are identical. For the remaining 10%, the morality is simply different. For example, conservatives value acceptance of social norms more; liberals value acceptance differences more. These are stereotypes, but they are absolutely accurate. So even if you don’t accept one kind of moral value, who paints the other side as one-tenth as moral as she is? It just doesn’t make sense. But I have a pretty good idea what our cartoonist friend is thinking.
I can’t make out the name of the artist, but the year is pretty clear: 2007. Now what is it that happened regarding morality in 2007? Here’s a clue: wide stance. That’s right. On 11 June 2007, culture warrior Larry Craig was arrested in a bathroom at the Minneapolis-St Paul International Airport for lewd conduct — specifically coming on to an undercover police officer of the male variety. Craig would later claim, “I’m not gay, and I don’t cruise, and I don’t hit on men…” There were at least eight gay men who begged to differ. But there is no doubt that being seen as gay would have been bad for Craig; in December 2006, the Human Rights Campaign gave him a 0% rating “indicating an anti-gay-rights stance.” You might even say a wide anti-gay-rights stance.
But there are those who do not think of morality in a principled way. They don’t conceptualize simple things like “walking down the road and not beating up other people” as morality. To them, morality is what it says in that holy book. So being a decent human being isn’t morality, but being a straight human being is. And so in this cartoon, I guess we are supposed to give Larry Craig credit for trying to get over that bar of not being gay. Sure he failed, but unlike those liberal homos, at least he tried!
The problem here is pretty obvious. I don’t have the desire for sexual encounters with other men. So it says nothing of my morality that I don’t try to play footsie with other men in airport bathrooms. The fact that Craig had such a desire was not a matter of morality. It is just part of who he is. But the fact that he couldn’t admit to who he is and that he worked so hard to oppress others with similar inclinations? That’s hypocrisy. The fact that Larry Craig would have needed a supreme act of will power to overcome his urges doesn’t have anything to do with morality.
This is how Republicans think they hold themselves to a higher level of morality. There are only two things they care about: homosexuality and abortion. When it comes to things Jesus actually had an opinion on — like feeding the hungry — they have no greater sense of morality than liberals. It doesn’t speak well of them that they don’t see caring for the weak and avoiding wars as important to morality. Regardless, no one should buy into such a warped sense of morality, nor flatter the Republicans’ delusions of themselves.