“To understand the workings of American politics, you have to understand this fundamental law: Conservatives think liberals are stupid. Liberals think conservatives are evil.”
Stupid vs Evil, Charles Krauthammer
Great start. Let’s go deeper.
The Projection corollaries
We project our deepest fears about ourselves onto others. K’s Law therefore implies:
- Liberals’ deepest fear is that they are evil. They fear they’re part of the global 1%. That lecturing and legislating about sharing excites them. But actually sharing? Not so much. They fear they’re a bit racist, sexist or homophobic.
- Conservatives’ deepest fear is that they are stupid. Do they protest too much about how the intellectual elite are really the stupid ones? You betcha.
The ‘Can’t They Be Both?’ corollaries
Can’t the other side be stupid and evil? Yes they can!
- To be able to sleep at night, conservatives blind themselves to the consequences of their ideologies. (According to liberals)
- To maintain their naiveté, liberals find scapegoats for the world’s problems, and people on whom to project their own bigotry and selfishness. (According to conservatives)
Conservatives choose ignorance to remain evil. Liberals become evil to remain naive. Or so their opponents think.
The Snowball Effect corollary
- The more they call us stupid the more we think they’re evil. And vice versa. And the more stupid and evil we each become.
The ‘Perhaps They’re Both Right’ corollary
Applying the projection principle to K’s Law also implies:
- People who think that both sides are stupid and evil are the stupidest and evilest of the lot.
Or perhaps they’re both wrong
Or perhaps many liberals are actually intelligent people propelled by a commitment to help the weak and the outcast.
Perhaps many conservatives are actually good people propelled by a commitment to help everyone achieve happiness, goodness and success.
Our goals aren’t always the same, but they’re not usually opposites either. Perhaps if we focused on our own and each other’s strengths and goodwill we could do good things together.
So the final and most important corollary of K’s Law is:
- To be better people and to build a better society we need to break Krauthammer’s Law.
K’s Law is diagnostic, not prescriptive. It describes us as we are, not as we should be.
I intend to break K’s Law. Which would be easier if I didn’t think everybody else was so stupid and evil.