The Deeper Danger Of Political Hypocrisy

SAN FRANCISCO - OCTOBER 27: San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsom pauses while speaking at the grand opening of the new Charles Schwab office October 27, 2009 in San Francisco, California. After one year on the campaign trail, San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsom dropped out of the race for California governor on October 30, 2009.
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Accusations of hypocrisy are perhaps the most reliable feature of any political battle. On a routine basis, both political parties will point to the hypocritical statements or actions of their opponents, while presenting themselves as the consistent and ideologically pure alternative.

One such example was demonstrated by the Berkeley Teachers Union president Matt Meyer, after “video surfaced of him taking his two-year-old daughter to an in-person preschool,” despite advocating for a “gold standard” which demands that Berkeley schools remain closed “until all educators and district staff members have been vaccinated and schools agree to enforce social distancing and mask wearing.”

In this example, and countless others, the accusations of hypocrisy are entirely accurate. Meyer advocated for one rule for “us,” and another for “them.” We’ve seen this happen during COVID-19 lockdowns, whether it be politicians ignoring mandates in order to receive hair treatments or dine indoors, and it almost always comes hand-in-hand with an open abuse of power. In simple terms, the powerful see themselves as inherently exempt from the rules they set for the rest of us.

While much of the debate around political hypocrisy descends into one of two camps — either condemning the blatant abuse of power or debating whether such accusations are examples of “whataboutism” — many continue to miss the broader and more dangerous impact of hypocrisy.

This is the impact repeated hypocrisy has on the psyche of society when it comes to policy. In the case of Meyer, his “gold standard” demands are demonstrably absurd — a position supported by “the science.” His hypocritical dismissal is then taken by critics as proof — using a circular argument — that his policy suggestions are absurd. “See? I told you these lockdowns are stupid, the politicians aren’t even following their own rules!”

Now, while Meyer’s policy suggestion is ineffective, his hypocrisy is unrelated to any logical argument which reaches this conclusion. And this is where the danger lies.

Unfortunately, we have become all too used to politicians ignoring the rules they enforce or demand. During the era of COVID-19, accusations of hypocrisy are plentiful and — usually — accurate. However, such frequent hypocrisy has cemented the viewpoint that hypocrisy alone is evidence of bad policy — an illogical and dangerous conclusion.

As an extreme example, what if a mayor or governor imposed strict punishments for driving on the wrong side of the road, and then proceeded to be caught driving on the wrong side of the road? Yes, the politician is a hypocrite, but this certainly doesn’t reduce the importance of road safety. However, by the currently growing field of logic, evidence of hypocrisy could be interpreted as evidence of bad policy.

In other words, with this mentality and an abundant supply of hypocritical politicians, eventually we’ll find ourselves ignoring rules that actually matter.

We all know and understand that hypocritical politicians undermine their own positions when they act hypocritically. What they need to understand is that they are playing a dangerous game that goes well beyond the usual abuse of power and influence. If we become used to judging the efficacy and importance of policies based on whether or not politicians follow them, what happens when a policy is necessary, and politicians do what they do best?

Unless politicians understand that their hypocrisy has consequences far beyond the immediate, they will be to blame for the damage that will inevitably ensue.

Ian Haworth is an Editor and Writer for The Daily Wire. Follow him on Twitter at @ighaworth.

The views expressed in this piece are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.

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