As a psychotherapist, I often observe specific social behaviors that are clinically recognized as peculiar or atypical. One of these is "virtue signaling." And we are seeing it every day. One definition states, "Virtue signaling is the expression or promotion of viewpoints that are especially valued within a social group, done primarily to enhance the social standing of the speaker."
We see it on Facebook and Twitter. It’s an everyday occurrence with Hollywood celebrities, corporate pseudo-capitalists preening for political pull, athletes, and others who strive to make it known that they’re anti-Trump, pro-environmentalism, pro-Obamacare, pro-high taxes and "pro-woman" (which always means, pro-leftist woman).
It’s no secret that it’s most often the leftists who absolutely must let others know their outrage, their tears, their worries, their angst and their undying terror that the world might become just a tiny bit less socialist. In the meantime, the rest of us quietly work, produce and take responsibility for ourselves. Sadly, that’s the great divide in America today.
Since Donald Trump’s election, virtue signaling among the self-conscious and proselytizing left almost qualifies as Olympic sport. It’s all about their cherished political correctness — nothing more than an insidious and dangerous substitute for actual correctness.
If progressivism and leftism were not so profoundly wrong about so many things, there would be no perceived need for political correctness.
There would simply be . . . correctness. But in order to make their views "right," they have to make things up. You need go no further than MSNBC, CNN, Huffington Post, The New York Times, and their ilk.
Think about all the things leftists get wrong. "Tax cuts only benefit the rich." Yet every time we enact major tax cuts, most notably during the John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan years, the economy explodes with growth.
Yes, the rich get richer, but the poor and middle class also get richer as the unemployed become employed. According to the left, Communism should have been the ultimate success story. Instead, it stands out as one of the greatest failures in human history.
If Soviet Russia’s experiment with Communism did not convince you, then just look at the economic and social status of today’s North Korea, Cuba — and Venezuela. Name one — just one — progressive leftist Democrat who would consider living in one of those places! Surely not Bernie Sanders with his three lavish mansions.
When people are profoundly wrong, they cannot reason and think for themselves. They have to look for authorities within their little circles to tell them what’s right. Take Islam. If leftists thought for themselves, you’d expect them to be even more outraged than Donald Trump or (true) Republicans about Islamofascist terrorism. It’s leftists, after all, who claim to be for gay marriage, gay rights, and the rights of women. There are no greater offenders against these principles than Muslims!
And yet leftists are the greatest apologists for Islam and the least likely to fight back, as we learned during the Obama years. For some unknown reason, they "signaled" each other some years back that now Muslims are a victim group deserving special favors. And that will be a disaster for gays and women. But that doesn’t matter to the poseurs on the left.
Notice the "virtue" part of virtue signaling. Part of what holds progressives together is their shared delusion that they’re virtuous. In fact, they see themselves as morally superior to conservatives or anyone else who refuses to agree with them. Yet their policies lead to despair, destruction and ruin whenever they’re tried.
Whether it’s Obamacare, government loan incentives, currency inflation, debt inflation, government nationalization of industry or caving in to international bullies, progressivism inevitably leads to suffering. How is this virtuous?
Unless you consider suffering to be virtuous, there’s a terrible problem with advocating such utterly self-defeating policies. Yet progressives continue to shriek, "But we’re nice. We’re compassionate. We care." So what? If your attitudes and ideas lead to diminished standards of living and outright annihilation by religiously fanatical barbarians, then who cares if you care?
Beware of those who need to appear virtuous. The truly virtuous, by any reasonable standard, do not need to show or signal anything. They simply are that way. Unfortunately, most of our culture, academic institutions, businesses, media, and government have been taken over by people who care far more for appearances than reality.
Take a look at history. Such showmanship, at the cost of reason and liberty, is the death knell of any civilization. It’s up to those who are fed up with it to try and reverse the trends.
Michael J. Hurd, Ph.D., LCSW is a psychotherapist and author with a private practice in coastal Delaware. He is the author of “Bad Therapy, Good Therapy (and How to Tell the Difference).” For more of his reports, Go Here Now.
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