But even beyond that, hypocrisy provides a clear, clean, easy to grasp, and non-partisan rubric by which to pass judgment on public officials. With hypocrisy, you don’t need to get into the weeds of politics or take a position that might be viewed as ideologically biased. This is not the bad behavior being denounced; it is the disconnect between what someone claims to believe and their behavior. The existence of the gap is what offends.
What should the Biden administration prioritize?
- Edward L. Glaeser, an economist, writes that the president should use his infrastructure plan as an opportunity to “get the country out of its zoning straitjacket”
- The Editorial Board argues that the administration should revert to the Iran nuclear deal, and that “at this point, the hard-line approach defies common sense.”
- Jonathan alter writes that Biden must now do what FDR did during the Depression: “restore faith that the long-wary federal government can achieve quick and tangible achievements.”
- Gail collins, Opinion columnist, has a few questions on gun violence: “First, what about gun control bills? The other is, what is filibuster? Is all that Republicans can do?
According to these rules, the safest political route seems to be to avoid standing up for any kind of norms and admitting that you are an amoral shark motivated only by personal ambition. Some would argue that this is what Mr. McConnell has done with some success.
In practice, politics runs on hypocrisy. Evidenced by the deficit Republican hawks who have come to love the tax cuts of 2017. Or all those voters of “family values” who, faced with the personal degeneration of Donald Trump, suddenly stopped worrying about the character or the the morality of the elect.
This inconstancy works in part because, for all their declared loathing for hypocrisy, most voters will forgive a bunch of it if they like what their elected officials do. Republicans may not like being labeled hypocrites, but they do recognize that there are more pressing issues. Just ask Judge Amy Coney Barrett.
Facilitating rationalization, hypocrisy is often in the eye of the beholder. People engaged in hypocritical behavior will engage in elaborate mental gymnastics to convince themselves that they are not in fact guilty of it.
A similar dynamic is true for the electorate. It is an enduring political truism that voters tend to overlook, excuse, or even embrace for grave sins committed by members of their own political tribe, even if minor infractions by the opposition spark a supernova of self-righteous indignation. . Many Democrats who were furious with Mr McConnell for detonating the obstruction of Supreme Court candidates were considerably more tolerant when Harry Reid, the Democratic leader of the Senate, suppressed him for lower court candidates and the executive in 2013.
Thus hypocrisy risks making those who denounce hypocrisy hypocrites.
As for Mr Biden, he should definitely continue to educate Republican officials – calling them, inviting them to White House talks, sending them home with chocolate chip cookies. But he should also continue to move forward with his agenda, with or without their support.