Do modern Americans really have no respect for authority? I think not. We must consider carefully what authority is, though. Clearly, the modern Establishment American does not respect the authority of family, country, or God. But that doesnt mean he is not a willing slave of authority. It is merely that his authorities are not traditional ones. One might say, dramatically, that he follows the authority of Satan, the great deceiver. Less dramatically, one might say that he follows the authority of The Washington Post and the Food and Drug Administration. It amounts to the same thing. The modern gentleman does not like to think for himself. He wants to follow someone. He chooses the mainstream media, and is its slave. If the media tells him masks are useless against covid, he despises masks. If it tells him three months later that masks are essential, he switches his opinion 180 degrees and wears masks, and despises anybody who says masks are useless.
This was notoriously true of the freethinker Communists of the 1930's, who followed The Party Line wherever it led them. They were not rebels, but lovers of authority. It's just that their authority was not God or Tradition, but The Party.
The modern gentleman takes as his authorities The Media, Science (as the Media tells it), and Government (meaning the permanent civil service, not the elected officials). His beliefs come from these authorities.
We must distinguish between taking one's beliefs from Authority and Obeying Authority, however. Belief and Obedience are different and distinct. I can believe eating cake is bad for me because it will make me fat and being fat is immoral, and yet not obey an injunction to stop eating it.
Liberals believe what Government and the Mainstream Media say, but they do not obey it. This can be either because they lack Discipline, or they are Selfish. They would acknowledge both faults. In this, they are the same as Conservatives. The conservative believes pornography is evil, whether from Authority (his pastor tells him), Observation (he sees its bad effects on him), or Reason (he can tell, detachedly, how despicable it is for him to view dirty videos). Yet he may succumb to it nonetheless. He may succumb because he is weak-willed, and his better part cannot control what he does. A bit differently, his Present Self may rule over his Future Self; he may choose instant gratification despite knowing he will be worse and feel guilty later. Those are problems of Discipline. Or, he may succumb because of Selfishness. He may know full well that his parents, wife, and children would despise him and be ashamed of him; that God would be displeased; that he will be a worse person if he succumbs--- but he might not care enough. Such a person may well believe that porn is bad, but choose it anyway.
Even so, the liberal may take his moral beliefs from the Media, but act as a hypocrite. He may believe that Carbon Is Evil, but take the airplane on luxury vacations. He may believe the Private Schools Are Evil, but send his children to them. He may believe that All Races Are Equal, but threaten to disinherit his son if he tries to marry somebody who isn't Jewish. His moral beliefs are genuine. It's just that he doesn't always choose to act morally.
A lot of people who are proud of being "moderate" and "independent" really just worship power. They want to be flexible so they can always go with the winner. Among the elite, they're the ones who'll happily work for anybody, so long as they're in power.