Comedian-cum-commentator Bill Maher has of late been making some new friends and enemies and raising many an eyebrow. At issue are his Real Time monologues in which he has taken his “side,” the Left, to task for “woke” insanity ranging from canceling people over innocent quips to convincing children they can be the opposite sex to whiny “millennial” entitlement. It reminds many of the #WalkAway movement and of billionaire industrialist Elon Musk’s recent resolution to vote Republican. Nonetheless, Maher never actually becomes “red pilled”; one way or another, he makes clear he’s firmly on the Democrat plantation. There’s a good reason for this, too — a psychological reason.
On a simple level, going GOP could be disastrous for Maher’s career and social life, perhaps resulting in eventual show cancellation and expulsion from the cocktail party set. He can dissent from the party line to an extent, perhaps (unless and until leftists cement even more control), and remain relatively unscathed only as long as he remains a hoplite in the leftist phalanx
Yet there’s a deeper reason, I’m virtually sure, for Maher’s Democrat addiction. Many have noted how supercilious leftists can be, seemingly convinced of their own intellectual superiority despite obvious intellectual vacuity. They revel in mocking conservatives for being mouth-breathing, knuckle-dragging, humorless scientific obscurantists. Maher has displayed this conceit, too, though in recent years it appears to have been tempered via exposure to conservatives whose scholarly heft he can’t deny (e.g., Ben Shapiro, whom Maher interviewed).
Now, one appeal of supremacist ideologies concerns self-image. No matter how insecure or lacking one may be, no matter how “small” he may feel, he can always hang his hat on being part of an “elite” group. “Hey, at least I’m not like these other people,” the thinking goes, on some level. “I’m special, superior, in the ether.”
Realize, too, that while supremacism is generally associated with racial feelings, it can involve a host of different orientations such as nationality, class or religion — or ideology. And, generally speaking, leftists absolutely do exhibit this phenomenon.
Coming to mind here is the liberal neighbor who told me years ago, perhaps trying to couch a put-down in pseudo-compassion or exhibiting a perverse sort of charitableness, that it wasn’t that I was bad. I just wasn’t as “evolved” as he was (thankfully, since I later realized he was a narcissist).
What this means is that leftists’ self-esteem, their self-image, their conception of self-worth, is tied in with their pseudo-ideology and group association. This is one reason disabusing them of their misguided notions can sometimes be impossible: You’re not merely combating intellectual error but emotional dependence. In many cases, relinquishing liberalism would collapse leftists’ whole world; their self-image and ego would implode. They’d feel lower than dirt.
I suspect this is the case with Maher. Related to this, he also wants to be one of the “cool kids.” This was hinted at when, while mounting a left-handed defense of the Boy Scouts many years ago (before the group fell from grace), he said that the “nerds” needed some place to go. (Pro tip, Bill: The nerds are the people who run to a safe space with a comfort animal just because they heard a joke they didn’t like.)
The upshot is that I don’t think Maher will anytime soon follow Ronald Reagan and so many others in realizing that he doesn’t have to leave the Democrat Party — the Democrat Party long ago left him.
But there is a bright side here. While bedding down with evil and enabling its errors certainly isn’t good for Maher’s soul (and we should care about that), politically speaking, it may be valuable having him mock and condemn Leftism 87.0 (the Woke version) “from the inside.” Proclaiming Republicanism, after all, would mean that many liberals would just tune him out. This way, he has their ear.
In fact, maybe he’s winning the GOP more votes, especially among Independents, by being a liberal “voice of reason” (an oxymoron, I know). And if nothing else, perhaps he’ll just inspire a few more disaffected liberals to stay home on Election Day.
The views expressed by RenewAmerica columnists are their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of RenewAmerica or its affiliates.