Liz Quixote

In the great 17th century novel by Miguel de Cervantes, Don Quixote, the title character grows tired of his ordinary life, and he spends much of his days reading books about the great acts of chivalry performed by the heroic knights of his time. He becomes so enthralled by the virtue and gallantry of the knights that he longs to become one, dreaming of saving the innocent and vanquishing evil. His desire to be bathed in the honor and esteem from the world is so strong that he begins to live outside of reality. His delusions cause him to dub himself a knight-errant, and he goes out into the world looking to perform acts of great heroism.

In the throes of his delusions, he begins to see evil villains where none exist. He mistakes a field of windmills for a legion of giants, so he attacks them and is seriously injured by their spinning sails. He assaults a group of monks after falsely accusing them of kidnapping a princess. And he later believes a herd of sheep is an opposing army, so he charges and slaughters seven of them. Likewise, he is so blinded by his own virtue that he also fails to see evil that is right in front of him. Quixote accepts the promise of a sadistic farm owner not to continue to beat his young farmhand because the chivalrous code says that a promise to or from a knight is always kept. After he leaves, the owner beats the farmhand within an inch of his life.

Don Quixote exemplifies the power of the human will to ignore reality in favor of a preferred fantasy. Every step along the way, his belief in his own superior virtue warps reality to fit into that narrative, and his blind pursuit of his own virtue, ends up hurting himself and the people he believes he’s helping.

This is what we are witnessing in our country today. Too many people are so wrapped up in their own virtue that they see enemies where there are not any and fail to see the enemies staring them right in the face. Liz Chaney’s participation on the January 6th committee is a perfect example. She saw herself as the virtuous protector of our democracy and became determined to take down a giant of her own imagination. She labeled Donald Trump the “biggest threat to democracy in our country’s history”. That’s the way it works. The more-evil you can paint your opponent, the more virtuous you become in fighting him. So, Trump had to be an existential threat for Liz to maximize her virtue.

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Posted by juddgarrett

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