about the bleeding heart liberal petitions page on facebook

Es­ti­mated reading time is 4 min­utes.

I HAVE A FACE­BOOK PAGE ti­tled Bleeding Heart Lib­eral Pe­ti­tions. Most days, I re­ceive a slew of emails with pe­ti­tions for var­ious causes such as saving an en­dan­gered species, urging my rep­re­sen­ta­tives in state and fed­eral gov­ern­ment to vote for or against a par­tic­ular bill, protest an in­jus­tice, etc. I read them all, sign most of them, and add a few to the Face­book page.

While I view these as humanitarian-related causes, for some reason that will prob­ably for­ever be be­yond my ken, they are in­vari­ably as­so­ci­ated solely with one’s po­lit­ical af­fil­i­a­tions. Hell’s Belles, one side of the po­lit­ical chasm ac­tu­ally con­siders any kind of sym­pa­thetic or em­pa­thetic sen­si­bility a symptom of some kind of disorder!

Note: I will be posting this piece in all six of my blogs. If you are a fol­lower of mine—and I know that I have two and I know that you both know who you are!—you can skip this on the other blogs. That is, pro­vided that you read it in its en­tirety here, of course . . .


RonaldSearle AChristmasCarol book 600

This is the dust-jacket to the edi­tion of A Christmas Carol fea­turing il­lus­tra­tions by Ronald Searle (World Pub­lishing Com­pany, 1961).

Origin story

“West­brook Pe­gler was ex­tremely good at calling people names. Par­tic­u­larly politi­cians. In his syn­di­cated news­paper column, he called Franklin D. Roo­sevelt ‘Moosejaw’ and ‘momma’s boy.’ Truman was ‘a thin-lipped hater.’ Pe­gler was a bit of hater him­self. He didn’t like the labor move­ment, Com­mu­nists, fas­cists, Jews, and per­haps most of all, liberals.

In one 1938 column, he coined a term for lib­erals that would even­tu­ally come to de­fine con­ser­v­a­tive scorn for the left. Pe­gler was the first writer to refer to lib­erals as ‘bleeding hearts.’ The con­text for this then-novel in­sult? A bill be­fore Con­gress that aimed to curb lynching.

By the end of the ’60s, Ronald Reagan, then newly elected gov­ernor of Cal­i­fornia, had picked it up as a way to de­scribe his po­lit­ical tra­jec­tory. ‘I was quite the bleeding-heart lib­eral once,’ he told Newsweek. By 1970, he was known as a ‘former bleeding heart Democrat.’

After that, the phrase was fully en­sconced in po­lit­ical short-hand and quickly claimed by lib­erals as a pos­i­tive trait. ‘You are called a bleeding heart lib­eral be­cause you have a heart for the poor,’ one [bleeding-heart lib­eral] told the Times. (“The True Ori­gins of the Phrase ‘Bleeding-Heart Liberal’”)


Baffler WestbrookPegler art 600

This il­lus­tra­tion was lifted from “Par­adise Shot to Hell: The West­brook Pe­gler Story” by J. C. Sharlet for The Baf­fler (De­cember 1999). Sharlet ob­served of Pe­gler that he was “the kind of writer who could cheer on a lynch mob (as he ac­tu­ally did in 1936; he sin­cerely be­lieved the vic­tims had it coming) or ex­hort solid cit­i­zens to join strike­breakers in ‘the praise­worthy pas­time of bat­ting the brains out of pickets’.”

Conservative vs liberal

“Po­lit­ical lib­erals are bleeding hearts be­cause they em­pathize so strongly with the suf­fer­ings of others as did the late George Mc­Govern. As Bill Clinton so suc­cinctly phrased it, ‘I feel your pain.’ When Re­pub­li­cans wanted to com­pete in the em­pathy de­part­ment, they had to in­vent a new ter­mi­nology to iden­tify this strange bird. They called it a ‘com­pas­sionate conservative.’

One might ask why con­ser­v­a­tives have, or are per­ceived as having, too little em­pathy. Why do lib­erals have too much? A widely-credited ex­pla­na­tion is in terms of com­peting world views.

Con­ser­v­a­tives see the world as a chal­lenging place in which there is al­ways someone else who is ready to steal your lunch. Con­fronted by a po­ten­tially hos­tile en­vi­ron­ment, the best course is to take pre­cau­tions and to en­sure your own well-being and that of your family.

The lib­eral world­view is mostly the op­po­site. Lib­erals take a more op­ti­mistic view of the world as being some­what more be­nign. Gov­ern­ment is a ve­hicle through which the cit­i­zens of a democ­racy can solve prob­lems and im­prove the well-being and hap­pi­ness of most people.” (“Why Lib­eral Hearts Bleed and Con­ser­v­a­tives Don’t”)

The reason why

The reason why I have pub­lished this piece to im­plore you to visit my Face­book page every so often, pick out a few is­sues, and sign the pe­ti­tions. To get to Bleeding Heart Lib­eral Pe­ti­tions, click HERE.

Po­lit­ical lib­erals are bleeding hearts be­cause they em­pathize so strongly with the suf­fer­ings of others. As Bill Clinton so suc­cinctly phrased it, ‘I feel your pain.’ Click To Tweet

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FEA­TURED IMAGE: This is what you will see at the Bleeding Heart Lib­eral Pe­ti­tions page on Face­book. The il­lus­tra­tion shows wealthy miser Ebenezer Scrooge and his overworked/underpaid as­sis­tant Bob Cratchit. The lat­ter’s bleeding heart is a con­stant in­spi­ra­tion for the for­mer’s sar­casm, con­de­scen­sion, and gen­eral nas­ti­ness. The art­work is by Ronald Searle from the il­lus­trated edi­tion of Charles Dick­ens’s A Christmas Carol (see il­lus­tra­tion above).




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