The Problem with Liberal Smugness (And the Decline of Empathy)

I am not suggesting we abandon our ideals. Or the belief that our way is the right way. But having empathy for those with different experiences also means empathizing with the dissenting opinions that were forged by those experiences. Even if the priorities and ideals expressed are not in alignment with our own.


Or—we could just continue along the aforementioned “smug liberalism” path, and discount dissenters as not worthy of engagement. And while I think that empathy is important regardless of ideology, and across party lines, the impact of intellectual and character based dismissal has few practical implications when dealing strictly with the liberal/conservative dichotomy.


It becomes dangerous however when those same elitist attitudes are directed towards the dissenting opinions of those whom we consider allies, even within the same party. If liberals can’t even cultivate empathy with each other, that does not bode well for a unified Democratic party coming together to defeat Trump.

Gail Jankovski