Why George Will's Moral Narcissism Matters
I admit to having moral narcissism on the brain, having just published a book on the subject, but the announcement by conservative columnist George Will that he has left the Republican Party and has registered "unaffiliated" in the state of Maryland is such a pure example of MN that I wish I had had a chance to add a few pages about it, maybe even a chapter.
Most of the examples in I Know Best are from the liberal-progressive side, so it would have been good for balance at least to have included such an esteemed conservative as Will -- a man who has now turned Lesley Gore's 1963 hit "It's My Party" on its head by declaring in a speech at the Federalist Society that "this is not my party."
Was it ever his party? I thought it belonged to all its members. But never mind. How does Will's proclamation demonstrate moral narcissism and why does that matter? Allow me to be a little narcissistic myself and quote from my book:
What you believe, or claim to believe or say you believe—not what you do or how you act or what the results of your actions may be—defines you as a person and makes you “good.” It is how your life will be judged by others and by yourself. In 19th-century France, the gastronome Jean Brillat-Savarin told us that “You are what you eat.” In 21st-century America, almost all of us seem to have concluded that “you are what you say you are. You are what you proclaim your values to be, irrespective of their consequences.” That is moral narcissism.
So George Will has proclaimed himself to be free and above the Republican Party -- most specifically the Republican Party whose current standard bearer by millions of votes is Donald Trump, a man Will obviously abhors. As the columnist said in his speech, Republicans should “make sure he loses. Grit their teeth for four years and win the White House.”
Will definitely gets to be "good" -- according to my definition. But what about those consequences, the pesky results of his decision? PJ Media's Nicholas Ballasy asked Will some interesting questions after the speech, among them whether he was bothered by Hillary Clinton choosing one or possibly several justices for the Supreme Court, changing the nature of the court for decades.
Will replied, “Sure, but I’m also concerned with the fact that I do not really believe Republicans think clearly enough about what they really want in judges. Republicans have given us Earl Warren, Brennan, John Paul Stevens, Burger, who was kind of mediocre, Blackmun. Having a Republican president is not an answer in itself."