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November 16, 2004

The mental health of liberals

It took me awhile to figure out that this post at the Boca Raton News was not parody. Board-certified psychologists really have diagnosed Post Election Selection Trauma, and it really is known by the acronym PEST. Apparently, the defeat of John Kerry has caused an entirely new psychiatric disease in certain weak-minded individuals.

I don't know about that. I've spent a good bit of time studying the post-election liberal psyche at Democratic Underground, and it seems to me more like the left is progressing through the classic Stages of Grief.

1. Denial. "Kerry didn't really lose the election! Bush stole it!" In some cases, the denial is so advanced that the patient is determinedly convinced that Kerry will, in fact, be inaugerated... and yes, there are plenty of people who believe this. The delusion can progress to the point where the unfortunately afflicted individual believes that a candidate for re-election can improve his vote percentage in 49 of 51 states by fraud, and can steal a margin of over 3,500,000 votes without leaving huge red indicators.

2. Anger. "Everyone who voted for Bush is stupid!" This was a pretty predictable reaction to the election results. It's typified by people like Ted Rall and organizations like the Daily Mirror, and is espoused by many who hypocritically call the Republicans the party of cultural elitism. Close-minded partisans on both sides of the aisle believe their position is so strong, so clear, that they find it impossible to understand how rational people could disagree. They are left to conclude that their opponents are stupid, insane, evil, or a combination of the three. In this particular case, racism and homophobia often ride shotgun alongside stupidity.

Patients who are transitioning from Stage 1 to Stage 2 often direct their anger at John Kerry... not for being a lousy candidate, not for running an incompetent campaign, but for conceding the election when it became clear he had lost. Those who remain in denial console these people by pointing out that concessions are not legally binding and Kerry can still win.

3. Bargaining. "Maybe it's time to change" Finally, the grief-stricken individual starts looking for ways to deal with his loss, rather than denying it happened or reacting with rage. Liberals in this phase suggest looking for ways to appeal to the majority of voters who rejected them. Popular proposals include banning partial birth abortion or dropping gun control. Their comrades who have made less progress react with disproportionate fury to these modest suggestions. They object that this would amount to "surrender" or "becoming the Republicans". Or that they have no intention of debasing themselves to appeal to the aforementioned racist, homophobic idiots who comprise the majority of the voters.

4. Despair. "This country is worse than Nazi Germany!" Also known as the "wailing and gnashing of teeth" stage, symptoms include hysteria and dramatic attention-whoring. A patient in this stage may threaten to commit suicide by relocating to a frozen wasteland. The recommended treatment is to hand them a plane ticket and bid them bon voyage.

5. Acceptance. This stage is characterized by recognition that America is still America, and that while democracy means occasionally seeing your candidate lose, life goes on and the world does not end. To the best of my knowledge, no patient has yet advanced to this stage. The prognosis for most of them is grim.

November 16, 2004 in Election '04 | Permalink


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