Christ. Via Charlie Pierce (who has the proper headline), teh Politico is giving air to one of the dumbest charges in our political discourse (and that is a grand field with many distinguished candidates). Apparently, Elizabeth Warren is incapable of being a genuine voice for the middle class because she has money:
“I don’t begrudge her own personal wealth. I begrudge her hypocrisy of trying to play the demagogue against those who have achieved and who have created wealth,” said Rick Manning of the conservative group Americans for Limited Government.
Added National Republican Senatorial Committee spokesman Brian Walsh: “Her poll-tested campaign rhetoric simply doesn’t match reality as voters learn more about who Elizabeth Warren really is.”
Which brings me to the subject of this post, the apparently equally misunderstood concept of hypocrisy. I’ve been getting some personal attacks on this front, but it’s a bigger issue than that. Here’s the personal version: suppose that you’re a professor/columnist who advocates higher taxes on high incomes and a stronger social safety net — but you yourself earn enough from various sources that you will pay some of those higher taxes and are unlikely to rely on that stronger safety net. A remarkable number of people look at that combination of personal and political positions and cry “Hypocrisy!”
Wait — it’s not just about me and the wingnuts. If you remember the 2004 election, which unfortunately I do, there were quite a few journalists who basically accused John Kerry of being “inauthentic” because he was a rich man advocating policies that would help the poor and the middle class. Apparently you can only be authentic if your politics reflect pure personal self-interest — Mitt Romney is Mr. Natural.
So to say what should be obvious but apparently isn’t: supporting policies that are to your personal financial disadvantage isn’t hypocrisy — it’s civic virtue!
But, say the wingnuts, you say that rich people are evil. Actually, no — that’s a right-wing fantasy about what liberals believe. I don’t want to punish the rich, I just want them to pay more taxes. You can favor redistribution without indulging in class hatred; it’s only the defenders of privilege who try to claim otherwise.