Cognitive Dissonence

In the past 48 hours, I’ve run across columns, Facebook posts and broadcast pundits all blaming government for not doing enough–not keeping the Ebola virus from American shores, not deporting twelve million “illegal aliens,” and not doing enough to encourage marriage, harness the nation’s energy supplies, or create jobs.

In fact, pretty much everything that’s wrong with America–at least in the eyes of these critics–is a result of government shirking its responsibilities. (Of course, they also add that it’s all Obama’s fault that government failed to do what it was supposed to).

The accusation is that government had a job and it failed to do that job.

Interestingly, these finger-pointers tend to be the very same people who want to “starve government until it’s small enough to drown in a bathtub.” They are also the same people who are always insisting that government “get out of the way” of business (while regulating women’s uteri), that it stop supporting “takers” with our frayed social safety net programs (while continuing to subsidize those “makers” who will be creating jobs any time now), and that government stop extorting our hard-earned money through taxation (while demanding more and more of the services those taxes support).

There’s terminology that describes what happens when people hold fast to incompatible beliefs: cognitive dissonance.

Or hypocrisy.


  1. The current definition of staunch Republicans: cognitive dissonance/hypocrisy. The Matthew Tully column today, “Voter anger won’t solve our nation’s problems”, regarding those offensive yard signs paid for and placed by the GOP are another prime example of why truth should have been included when founding fathers gave us freedom of speech. Too late now; damage cannot be undone, lies cannot be untold, and closed minds cannot be pried open. Mr. Tully’s column makes the situation seem to be set in stone with President Obama accused of being the master mason constructing these conditions. It doesn’t need to be hopeless; Mr. Tully refers to conditions as being caused by “voter anger” when it is in fact caused by selling Congress to the highest bidder. Why are Republicans considered the angry factor when they are the root of current conditions? We now have less than one week till election day to begin rectifying this situation and “buying back” our government with our VOTES.

  2. Cognitive dissonance is a fascinating dilemma and one that I see at the root of so many of the social and personal behavior conflicts. The worst cases are those who don’t recognize that they are riding the horns of this mind set and it almost always serves to inhibit those from any meaningful action. Frozen in subconscious confusion they are stalled. Leaving them only one course of action. To thrash around in the quicksand of throwing stones at those who do have a clear stand and are willing to take the risk of standing up and fighting regardless of those efforts to tear them down. And of course if these sidelined spineless grumbles were able to stop the real leaders they would bellow and jeer at the failure. Can’t have it both ways buddy, make up your minds and do something constructive for a change. ‘Put up or shut up’;as the saying goes.

  3. Why use a fancy college term like cognitive dissonance when one simple word will do the job?


  4. Consider: when was the last time, in your memory, that the Republican/conservative meme accomplished something useful for the country? Created functional, beneficial law or policy?

    Given that, if you were them, what would you run on? How would you convince voters that you were a better alternative? How would you manage your brand?

    It’s not cognitive dissonance which most students of the mind say is not poissibble for us humans to do.

    It’s acting.

  5. I received Dan Coats’ silly “newsletter” in which he states that we should stop anyone visiting from African countries. That gave me the chance to tell him that he needs to stop politicizing every event and pontificating on issues about which he knows nothing, and leave these decisions to people in the medical community. Could it be that someone actually knows more about these issues than Mr. Coats?

    Whenever you see that kind of behavior, it’s probably best not to try to “make sense” of it, but to understand that these are people who would be unhappy with any conditions. No Ebola “crisis”? There could be. An Ebola “crisis”? It’s the government’s fault. Government has good policies that work? Privatization would be better. Send them to their room.

    When the shooter broke into the Ottawa parliament, did you see the usual suspects lined up to accuse the government that it was somehow its fault? Here, it’s “bring on the clowns”!

  6. I have often considered how people can accomplish this so easily; talk from both sides of their mouths. There is little doubt that Wolfowitz and Cheney knew better. They are educated and
    intelligent men. How can one send other’s sons off to die? One would have to blind themselves to the realities of warfare . Difficult to do after Saving Private Ryan. This is not to mention trillions of dollars of national debt. How can one accomplish this without growing horns?

  7. President Obama has been blamed by the Republicans for everything from halitosis to hangnails. Why should they stop at a serious disease? It was the perfect chance to blame him again.

    Cognitive dissonance (regardless of how it is spelled) or hypocrisy or stupidity works beautifully for those who will not see or hear. Those labels have found a home in this current toxic political atmosphere.

    VOTE early or on election day, but VOTE! Tuesday, November 4, is just around the corner!

  8. Stuart; I wonder if Coats would have included the Greenfield Riley-Rotary Medical Team returning from Kampala, Uganda and Ethiopia after their two week missionary trip to Africa. My grandaughter Ashley is an RN at Riley Hospital for Children; she was 1 of the 10 member team of pediatric surgical nurses and surgeons who were sent to Kampala, Uganda to perform heart surgeries on infants and young children to save lives. Their first scheduled surgery had to be delayed due to an infant girl who was near death being brought in needing immediate surgery. Another team of 2 pediatric heart surgeons was sent to Ethiopia at the same time. They all returned on October 10th; exhausted and their only reward was knowing they saved children’s lives. Too bad we can’t send Coats and his cronies to Africa then refuse to allow them back in the country. You can go to the Greenfield Rotary Club Facebook page to see the team picture; Ashley is the beautiful blond on the right in the middle of the front row. Am I a proud grandma; you betcha’

  9. The persident should perpare a budget packet for the actions they’re demanding; then let’s see how fast the blow-hards approve it.

  10. Stuart. I sent Coats a response to some of his proposed “Hoosier” ideas and I pointed out many of the contradictions in his positions. I received a letter from his office thanking me, but staunchly defending his positions on every issue. What a waste of my time.

  11. When the GOP has been rewarded with what it has earned, ignominy and irrelevance, we won’t need to worry about our comfortable and functional two party system. There is more than enough diversity among Democrats to splinter into competing fragments.

    There is simply no reason for the GOPs continued existence.

  12. Daleb, I don’t think anyone should kid themselves into believing that Mr. Coats reads their remarks or even considers other ways of thinking about problems. This guy is locked on to solutions, whether they make sense or if they have any salutary effect on people or problems. He knows the answer, whatever the question is. On the other hand, it sure feels good to say something that makes sense, even while knowing that it’s going straight to the ash can. I suspect, though, that someone makes a hash mark somewhere that tallies the number of people who think he’s an idiot. If the number gets high enough, well, I guess it gets high.

    One thing for sure: I am going to vote against the guy with great enthusiasm. I don’t care if Karl Marx is running. I’ll probably punch a hole through the machine.

  13. Republican politicians are extremely clever. From Obama’s first day in office, the Republicans made it clear they would not support anything he came up with … even if they were in favor of it. And they didn’t. As a result, hardly anything was accomplished. And the Republicans are constantly trying to convince the public that hardly anything has been accomplished. I wonder where they got that idea. I was born and raised a Republican, but I got over it. I wish the general public would do the same.

  14. Stuart: I figured one of Coats’ intern actually wrote the response; probably referred to a copy of Cliff Notes on public policy.

  15. To Paul Raikes, I, too, was “born and raised a Republican (meaning a conservative southern Democrat)” and I also got over it. There are so many bright contributors for Miz Kennedy’s blog that it makes my day every day. Thanks, folks…

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