Way back in the day when I started doing this blogging thing, I wrote that labeling folks who preach so-called traditional moral values and then go running around town with their dicks out wouldn't resonate all that much with Americans who don't already agree with us. As a culture, we have a whole narrative around hypocrisy that deflects any criticism of the fact of hypocrisy itself or the empty moral pronouncements that make it possible and redirects our frustration towards individual moral failings, pretending they're the isolated incidents that prove the need for other people to go around waving the conservative Christian flag.
I wrote that about Ted Haggard, but it applies to Mark Sanford as well. And Rush Limbaugh, like the lowest common denominator he is, declared last week: "Society needs hypocrisy." (Full passage and audio after the jump, and you'll love his logic.)
It's easy to write it off as grasping at whatever straws are around to defend a battered ideology, which it partly is, but what Limbaugh is tapping into is something much more primal. It's the need for daddy, for an authority figure to protect us from the cultural Leviathan, someone to tell us how it is, how it's gonna be, and what to do in order to be safe. When someone violates those rules, it only becomes more necessary for the safety of these insecure people for the moralistic rhetoric to be ramped up, not down. Obviously some people didn't hear it the last time around.
Via Media Matters:
I would posit something here. There's a lot of people, I've gotten a lot of email since this Sanford story broke. "See, Rush, this is why Republicans have to get rid of the social issues. We just have to get rid of them. Because this hypocrisy is gonna kill us. Hypocrisy is gonna... people are people, human beings are human beings, they're gonna have affairs, they're gonna have abortions, they're gonna do this. In politics we can't- We're always- We're gonna lose people. We're gonna have affairs. Democrats don't lose people when they're hypocrites because they aren't hypocrites, Rush, because they don't have standards. And we do. We've just gotta get rid of the social issues, Rush." I'm hearing this from a lot of people.
Something for you to think about. There's a little think piece here. How about the fact that society needs hypocrisy. I'll be happy to explain it shortly; it's as simple as pie. I shouldn't have to explain it, but I'll be glad to.
I'm not saying hypocrisy is a virtue, but it is a necessary evil. Society needs it. "But Rush, but Rush, how can you say that? Isn't hypocrisy preaching moral values and not living up to them?" Yeah. That's exactly right. That's exactly what, in this case, hypocrisy is. But hypocrisy does not deny moral values. If somebody can be a hypocrite, but not be a hypocrite- If somebody can be immoral but not be a hypocrite, then what's happened to standards? You want a party run by a bunch of people who have no standards? You've gotta, you've got it at the Democrat Party and you've had it for years, and look where it has taken us.
Hypocrisy does two things, both at the same time. Hypocrisy shows- And you're not gonna want to hear this, you've not gonna want to agree with me on this one, I know you're not. But hypocrisy shows that there are moral values in a culture. Without moral values in the culture it would not be possible for anybody to be a hypocrite. The fact that we are calling Sanford a hypocrite is the proof that there are still standards of dignity and morality that apply in our society. It also shows, this hypocrisy, it also shows that violating those moral values are wrong.
Moral pronouncements, which are violated by lots of powerful Republicans, should still be made ad nauseum because they show that we have moral values. Even if no one follows them, because it's important to have standards no one meets. Because just imagine how much worse the world would be if we stopped making such pronoucements.
And it's not like they're going anywhere. Even if the Republican Party crashed and burned in the next ten years (I doubt it) the ideology would find another home.
Maybe, instead of crying hypocrisy, it'd be better if we discussed the fact that these standards cannot be met by anyone, or enough people that it makes sense to hold them up as one-size-fits-all values to control everyone's lives. When we make it about hypocrisy, we keep the focus on the individual moral failings and, rather sickly, only reify the supposed moral codes that were violated.
And while we're at it, it's worth noting that the guy who's talking about how important these moral values are even if someone goes out and violates them, as well as the someone who went out and violated them, are both among the most elite Republicans out there. These rules are for the peasants, not for the royalty.
But this issue is fundamentally about safety. The Limbaugh crowd doesn't want their world shaken up and will happily participate in a stoning if that's what it takes to reaffirm the fact that people are supposed to behave in a certain way and that's what keeps this world moving. Sure, the world eggs might need to be broken, but could you imagine how many men would fly off to Argentina for a week to be with their mistresses if Republicans didn't have such solid standards?