How the Democrats can save their party and heal America
obviously not good for one of America’s two major parties to be insane and disfunctional and always pulling the center of American politics further to the left. To have a viable two-party system in this country, we need two sane parties. Therefore the question, now riling Democratic circles, of how Democrats can restore their party to its former greatness is of profound interest to all of us. In this article, I propose a radical cure. What the Democrats need to do, I argue, is return to their traditional core belief, the Jeffersonian and Aristotelian belief in the attainment of the good life, made accessible, as far as is reasonably possible—and here comes the Bryanesque rather than the Jeffersonian liberalism—to all in society. Further, they need to realize that in order to pursue that end in a non-destructive way, they must nurture and protect the social order, including its traditional freedoms, rather than attack it and seek to transform it through cultural radicalism.
I realize that what I’ve just said may sound mad, since I am expecting the Democrats to give up their most cherished beliefs and become that which they most hate—conservatives.
But the radicalism of my argument is in saying that what Democrats currently regard as their core beliefs are actually in conflict with their true core belief, the belief that, at their best, has always motivated and driven them: the belief in the ideal of the good life for everyone. Once they realize that the good life they want cannot be had if they destroy the social order through cultural radicalism, at that point they will be prepared to give up their radicalism. Impossible? Perhaps. But it is also impossible for liberals to sustain their current madness.
Let’s consider the problem further. The Democrats, as I said, suffer from a fundamental contradiction. This contradiction consists in the fact that they want a good and secure life for all, and they want everyone to be a self-created being, utterly free in his desires and lifestyle choices. Their demand for homosexual marriage, which in the wake of the election they have raised to a metaphysical absolute, is the ultimate symbol of this radicalism, expressing the notion that human beings have the right and the capacity to rebuild the most fundamental and deeply rooted institutions of society, according to nothing but their own whim that it be so. What the Democrats need to understand is that the homosexual rights project is not compatible with the good life, because the good life requires a stable society, which in turn requires stable families for the raising of children, which in turn require—dare I speak the dread words—traditional sexual morality. Of course, this criticism is directed not just at homosexual liberation but at sexual liberation per se. People brought up in an environment of sexual liberation tend to be disordered in their personal lives and so have more need of the state to take care of them—which is why unmarried adults vote overwhelmingly for the Democratic party. People who practice traditional morality including monogamy have better ordered and more satisfying lives—which is why they vote by huge margins for the Republican party. The ineluctable connection between sexual morality, social stability, and the good life is something that most Democratic politicians understood, or at least did not question, prior to the catastrophe of the 1960s. But now the Democrats depend on an increasing number of voters with disordered lives in order to maintain the Democrats in office. If Democrats want to increase the sum total of human well-being in society, then they should be encouraging traditional morality instead of invoking the life-style radicalism that makes people increasingly dependent on the state. This would both increase the number of people who lives are personally satisfactory, and increase the number of married persons who vote Democratic. At present, of course, this is something the Democrats are very far from understanding or wanting.
The contradiction between liberation on one side and the social and human good on the other can be seen in one Democratic position after another. Democrats’ commitment to open borders, their insistence on breaking down the distinction between illegal aliens and legal immigrants, and so fostering contempt for the law, is obviously incompatible with the maintenance of the social stability that is needed for human happiness. Similarly, multiculturalism, the idea that all cultures must be equally included in our society and that America has no culture or common standards of its own deserving of respect and deference, is incompatible with the maintenance of a stable society. And the view of America as a racist and uniquely guilty country, combined with the tendency always to side against America and condemn it in the most negative possible terms (which is not the same as legitimate criticism), is obviously incompatible with a healthy and nurturing society.
The Democrats’ contradictory adherence both to the common welfare and to liberationism, to social harmony and to social alienation, to stability and to the unlimited inclusion of the cultural Other, is not sustainable. If the Democrats want to survive as a party, they will have to reject cultural radicalism and return to their core commitment—the commitment to achieving the good life for all Americans. They would also have to reject multiculturalism, group rights, and open borders. They would have to reaffirm America as a unitary society where in the public sphere we treat each other as Americans, not as members of racial groups. They would have to accept the fact that different ethnic and racial groups have different kinds of interests and skills, and that it’s impossible to assure that all ethnic and racial groups will be proportionally represented in every institution and area of life. If they did all these things, if they ceased being the party of alienation and anger and became the party of the good life and national well being,—if, in short, they became a conservative party—they could outflank the Republicans on social issues since the Republicans have become a largely ideological party seeking to democratize the world instead of nurturing and guarding America.
As columnist Ross MacKenzie points out, the Democrats, for all their navel gazing, cannot understand or solve their political ills because they refuse to mention the ideology which is the source of their ills: liberalism:
Socialists appropriated the label of a liberalism that now dares not speak its name. These days it goes by high-sounding moderation or sometimes centrism and mainstream. Even uttering the word liberal is deviationist, verboten, shudderingly anathema; liberals run from it like scalded dogs.
Posted by Lawrence Auster at November 11, 2004 01:49 AM | Send
Yet by any other name, liberalism is liberalism still. And in shunning the word the Democrats do themselves no favor, because—ideologues that they tend to be—they refuse to address the liberalism that is the turn-off essence of their message….
The problem for the Democrats is in the ideology central to their message—an ideology obvious to any voter with his eyes open and his brain engaged, no matter how seductively robed as something else. To begin winning again, the Democrats must wrestle their liberalism out of their being, out of their party, and out of their message. However counterintuitive it may seem, they need to revisit—re-embrace?—precisely the values they have done so much to purge from the public square.
A short list of (relatively) sane Democrats:
Victor Davis Hanson (sane at least on reconquista)
(the late) M. E. Bradford
They’ve all said they were registered Democrats, and none is anywhere near a public office. Can anyone add to this list?
The first thing the Democrats can do is temper this free-trade situation with fair-trade. Demand that the U.S. start making things again, and start to dig us out of this Wal-Mart economy we find ourselevs in. link fair-trade with a slow-down in immigration to help the low wages sector of the economy rise, which will lead to a more secure lower, and middle class. If they can link jobs, and immigration together, and bring the upper middle class along with a promise of less sprawl due to a stable manufacturing base and less immigration they will cut the Republucan Party off at the knees.
I have come to believe over the last several years that the ONLY way we are ever going to win the immigration battle is if we link it with jobs, free trade, and the economy. If 9\11 can’t move the Nation on the immigration question, if millions of folks from Latin America crossing the border every year can’t do it…..then I fear that ONLY something like linking the fear of losing our job-base with immigration will get what we want done.
If the Democrats can do these two things; or start to do them……these other cultural issues will be easier to fall into place.
The Democratic Party has become the refuge for every leftist organization, every wacky special interest, every victimization society, every race baiting and racially instigating coalition and every alternative lifestyle progressive gang.
What else did I miss? Oh yes, the granddaddy of them all, the immigration industry, which like a vulture, circles above the dying carcass of America waiting to scavenge what’s left of the country which the Democrats and the Republicans both, led us to.
So I wonder exactly how a party, so entrenched in liberalism and devoid of intellectual honesty, could possibly extricate itself for the good of the country. After all, it is no secret that those in power wish to keep their power, although the Democrats have been having a tough go of it lately.
The Democrats wish to have it both ways, they want power and they want to successfully promote their social engineering programs onto the rest of us. There is no idealism involved, though the Democrats would like us to think partial birth abortion or homosexual marriages are ideals worth fighting for.
As several Roman emperors knew, “Give the people what they want, bread and circuses.” How about free admission to one of the greatest Babel-like costume parties and liberal carnivals in the world today?
This is what a huge portion of our population wants. It’s a power cycle to which the Democrats are well attuned. In essence, liberalism is like an addiction to which many liberals depend upon the Democrats to get their fix, so it endlessly goes full circle.
I don’t think the Democrats can change because they lack the will to change. Why should they? They are “in touch” with America’s needs. They are also, as is heard in some mafia movies, “in too deep”. Ask Al Sharpton.
I would like to point out that Zell Miller’s speech at the Republican convention shows that there is hope for the Democratic party. But how many Democrats actually share his ability to objectively assess the condition of their party?
Thinking of Nancy Pelosi or former California Governer Gray (out)Davis shows the degree of near criminal and irrational behavior they are more closely associated with.
In the late night of the election, when it was clear that Bush had won, I sent an email to the DNC which included the following points. But as a former Democrat—and wanting the same thing that Mr. Auster wants when he wisely paints the picture of a much needed “healthy two-party system”—I felt an obligation to do so:
-Picking an inexperienced pup (for his looks and youth) like Edwards who couldn’t even deliver his own state and putting him up against a wiley, experienced vet like Cheney, heart attacks notwithstanding.
-The DNC allowing two US Senators to run as a team, whereas everyone knows that US Senators are considered “part of the Club”, blowhards and Insiders! Clinton won in large part in ‘92 because he was considered “outside of D.C.”. Kerry was quite well-known as a Senator for 20 years.
-Allowing another Massachusetts liberal (a la Dukakis), trying to run when he was/is NOT a likeable man, even among his own people. The country has gone more “Republican” generally (not counting CA, Illinois and New England) and the Democrat Party has gone leftist by pushing the following on us all:
-pro-abortion (murder, in many people’s eyes)
-pro-special rights for gays (hate crime laws, etc.), even though the entire country was against it
-health care for everyone, but offering no way to pay for it—even as doctors and hospitals are being put out of business
-John Kerry had Bush dead to rights on illegal immigration during the campaign and especially, during the third debate—but was afraid of alienating Hispanic voters and other liberals. That was a huge mistake. Conservatives like me who wanted Bush out would have held our noses and voted for him in the battleground states like AZ, New Mexico, etc.
-Perhaps as importantly, they sent out The Wrong Messenger. Kerry was “dirtied”; he had spoken out against the U.S. on foreign soil next to the enemy—the Viet Cong and NVA rep. He didn’t handle the Swift Boat Vets For Truth attacks well and that took the heat off Bush on Iraq. Kerry became “the issue” instead of Bush.
-The next two reasons were beyond Kerry’s and the Demos’ control, but should have had little effect on the voting. Kerry should have been ahead enough not to allow these two things to influence the voting:
a. The bin Laden video release Friday before the election and
b. Renquist’s serious cancer announcement
All things considered, it is amazing that Kerry didn’t lose by a wider margin.
There is much to say about the Democratic Party, but, for conciseness, I will limit my remarks to a couple of core procedural problems that lurk behind its problems.
First, the Democratic caucuses in Iowa are a huge problem. Being caucuses, they attract party activists, who are radicals. They give the early momentum to a candidate who cannot win in November, and who will pull the party and country leftward with his campaign. The national party heads need to get a primary from a bigger state moved up to an early spot. Choosing a relatively sane, Midwestern state that does not have caucuses (such as Michigan, Ohio, or Illinois) would help their nominating process greatly. Radical activists cannot choose their nominees every four years, or they are doomed.
Second, the Democratic Party should come out in favor of term limits for Congress. They would gain greatly in popularity just by supporting this issue, via constitutional amendment, and they would help transform their own party into a party of citizen legislators. This would end up putting them more in touch with real Americans, instead of having career politicians who despise real Americans.
One advantage of these two ideas is that they do not require the Democratic Party to immediately transform itself, but the transformation will happen over time.
I think that Andrew2 has correctly stated the case against the probability of the Democratic Party transforming itself. The Democratic party has essentially become a tent where radical ideological tribes gather. Ever since the 1968 orgy of leftism, it ceased to be an American institution and became a socialist circus. The Dems have rejected the Christian foundations of American culture, although the moderates who are still left occasionally resort to Christian rhetoric. Mr. Auster’s prescriptions are all well taken, but if the Dems were to swallow that pill, they would cease to exist. The party is now so far removed from anything that a traditionalist could identify with and is so completely married to a radical secular agenda that it cannot become conservative without destroying itself. I have no doubt, however, that when they field Madame Clinton in 2008, she will portray herself as a centrist and left-of-center Christian; but this will be little more than rouge on a donkey. The bottom line is that the Dems are stuck with the homosexuals, the abortionists, the New Age Eco-Marxists, and the femi-nazis. If the party abandons that crowd, it will no longer to be a national party because much of its funding is derived from sources that are philosophically aligned with one or more of those groups, e.g. Soros and Hollywood.
Manny’s criticisms of my article are well taken. I know that what I’m proposing may seem improbable to the point of foolishness. There are two answers to this:
1. For the proposal to be taken seriously, I am assuming that the Democratic party is not completely radicalized and “interest-groupized,” that there is a remaining core of goodness, patriotism, and idealism left in the party, which could become the basis of a renovated party.
2. If that assumption is incorrect and the Democrats are irretrievably radical, as Manny suggests, then my proposal is not to be taken seriously and becomes a kind of “Modest Proposal”—made not to be enacted, but to tell us something about an intractable reality.
Exactly what I was trying to say. I think a transformation for the Democratic circus, sorry, Party, is akin to the idea that “Moderate” Muslims are the answer to Islamism. Of course a more moderate form of Islam is the key, but these moderate Muslims are now considered apostates as they no longer represent the real Islam.
Similarly, the Democratic Party has the reverse problem, it can’t return to its roots without losing its base, the “Socialist tribe” as you put it so well. The result is the same as in Islam for the crime of apostasy, death.
Occupied Europe out
My idea is that if the leadership of a new Democratic party dropped the group rights stuff and again made it the party of one America, with one allegiance and one system of rules for all, the various interest groups within the Democratic party would have to accept that. They might fall away from the party, but the Democrats would receive new infusions of normal Americans who are looking for an alternative to the Republicans. Basically, the radical blacks and Hispanics and feminists would be left out in the cold, perhaps forming some new, openly radical third party, while the Democratic party is re-articulated as a genuinely mainstream party for people who believe in America. That’s my idea about the way that this would work.
Yes and Bush has a plan (sounds familiar) to land a person (PC forbids me to say “Man”) on Mars.
The Democratic Party is already grumbling that the “Red” states are evil red-necks. They view this struggle for the heart and soul of America as war and they want to pull out their big gun Hilliary in ‘08. While you speak words of sanity they defiantly continue in the direction of liberalism. It’s like what was said about Hitler, “Hitler’s destiny was Germany and Germany’s destinity was Hitler.”
Occupied Europe out.
But would we describe the Democratic party of Lyndon Johnson as “sane and healthy”? How far back must we go to locate a Democratic party that did not carry the seeds of national suicide? Sure, Democrats had people like Scoop Jackson and Richard Russell. But they also had the Kennedys and McGoverns. In point of fact, the liberalism that infected both parties in the last century has at least been quarantined in the Democratic party. Let it stay there as a warning to everyone. Better to allow a third party to arise and leave the Democrats to their insane world.
I would generally consider the Roosevelt administration, possibly the Truman adminstration as the last bastion of the Democratic core principles and worthy of admiration.
Can anyone actually imagine Harry S. Truman accepting some of the tenents of liberalism as such today?
Even John F. Kennedy was a cold warrior, he made the Soviet’s back down.
I did notice however, JFK’s brother did speak in racial terms moments before his assassination by Sirhan Sirhan, he introducedc certain people as “My Mexican American…” and my “Black Americain…” and so forth just before he said “And now it’s off to Chicago…”.
So when I saw the full text of his final speech, in Europe, not America (censorship?) I never knew he hypenated as such, I think of that as the bursting through of American liberalism onto the American mainstream.
Occupied Europe out.
Having worked with Democrats for 30 years (1965-1995) in a large public school system, I can honestly state that any hope for their rehabilitation is slim.
In 1968, almost overnight, the values by which we lived were turned upside down and bad became good. At first there was some resistance from teachers, but the forces of radicalism were suddenly, brutally upon us. All reasonable standards of achievement and conduct were thrown out the window. Chaos and sycophancy (of teachers towards students) ensued. “Soul on Ice” became a favorite among previously rational English teachers. We had three options - cave in, pretend to cave in, or leave. The once integrated schools soon were all-Black and the kids deteriorated rapidly.
The decay was unstoppable because there was no one to stop it. Politicians and administrators were either terrified or enjoying the chaos. Teachers, desperate to be in tune with the times, afraid of appearing old-fashioned, and sickened at the thought of being called racist, climbed onto the bandwagon, curled up and died there. They closed ranks against anyone who questioned the validity of bogus grades, bogus diplomas, unjustified scholarships. I was part of an exceedingly tiny minority of about 3 or 4 people who remained lucid enough to realize the price that would be paid for what we were doing.
The schools were the microcosm of what the whole society would become, the bad seed that brought forth rotten fruit.
I’m not adding anything to what has been said many times at this website. I don’t know much about metaphysics, but I believe there has been a kind of tectonic cosmic shift and we are indeed in a “new age”.
Any scraps that can be salvaged from the previous age (of Christianity, of Western culture, of stable societies) will be greatly needed in the disorder and violence that lie ahead. Last night Tom Wolfe said to Charlie Rose that he didn’t think people would be reading novels anymore in 20 years. But how could they? They haven’t been reading for the last 40 years. I remember the English Department throwing away tons of fine works of literature - Melville, Cather, Wharton, Fitzgerald all down the trash bin.
I think maybe a Great Man could save the Democrats from themselves - someone charismatic and powerful who could use shock therapy to cure them of the pathological reaction formation they have wallowing in, i.e. pretending to love those they really hate. Then, possibly, they would shed the sickest members of their group and work towards mental health, if not political viability. They need a psychiatrist - big time.
I just said that I thought the 1968 campagn of Robert Kennedy was a turning point. He used all the language of a seperatist just before a foreigner (Sirhan Sirhan) assasinated him.
I don’t think he could have predicted that he would have been a tool of powers beyond his understanding.
What powers…something more comphrhensive than the unity of America before that time.
Occupied Europe out.
I don’t know why were worried about the Democrats having to save their party. They lost the election by a whisker in Ohio, and their demographic base is growing. Indeed, if El Presidente gets his way, it might get an even bigger boost soon.
“I don’t know why we’re worried about the Democrats having to save their party…”
But that’s the point - if the Democrats don’t cure themselves ( and it’s not likely they will) , then in their current state of corruption they may very well regain power. It’s essential that they change, but they won’t and the Republicans aren’t much better. Are there really enough authentic conservatives in the country to counterbalance the combined forces of the left and the neocons?
I was teaching class when the principal’s voice came over the loud-speaker announcing Robert Kennedy’s death. The earth seemed to quake beneath me because I feared mayhem in the classroom. I don’t remember what happened, but mayhem soon became the new order of the day.
What part of Occupied Europe are you in?
Were you teaching in California, Chicago or New York? I ask because to fear mayhem in a classroom in 1968 America makes me reconsider my “sane America” reference point.
My interest in the geographical location has to do with tracking the migration of liberalism as related to the immigration phenomenon.
Sorry Myriam, Germany by way of NYC and you?
One problem with your analysis is the notion that restoring services and legitimacy is ancillary to the counterinsurgency strategy. From malaya to Vietnam to our own dealings with Indians, there has always been a two part strategy to deal with insurgencies, and one essential component is to add legitimacy to the government, address grievances, and generally make recruiting more difficult for the insurgents. In other words, there is a carrot and stick approach. It is absolutely essential in Iraq to deprive the insurgents of their major grievances (some legitimate) not the least of which is the perception that the Allawi regime and the Iraqi forces are collaborators with an occupier. Restoring law and order so that elections can be had is part, therefore, of a serious military strategy.
That said, of course, it’s regrettable that some insurgents have left. But some may have left the battlefield permanently. Part of the Fallujah strategy was to divide the hard-core ba’athist holdouts and foreign fighters from the ordinary Fallujah Sunni who might fight half-heartedly to save face.
So, it’s simply wrong to think that we have to do these things in a particular order. Counter-insurgency, elections, and the simultaneous carrot and stick approach is tried and true. It just takes a lot of patience, which you seem to lack.
Oops, this belongs one post below in the thread entitled, “Our main goal in Iraq remains …”
All these comments about the Democrats returning to sanity (although, I imagine they would have to return to…jeez…1904? I’m not sure) misses the main point of the Democratic party: It consists of groups who, excuse my verb, want to “defecate” (fill in slang word here) all over the current structure of America. (or what’s left of it)
The radicals of the 60s don’t want to change the current structure, they want to burn it to the ground. The Democrats won’t stop their culture war until all of the values of the “red states” are destroyed. This is the essence of their party.
This is why they race-bait and gender-bait. It’s all about saying to the new minority voter, “Hey…look at those rich white bastards driving their SUVs. They got that by exploiting you and raping your homeland. Oh, by the way, do mind if we pass a 10% luxury tax on those cars? OK, cool. We didn’t think you’d mind.”
I was near NY - in Philadelphia. I can’t help you with your study on immigration - I don’t have statistics. The inner city schools in the Northeast went under early. The “cancer” spread to other big cities. People fled the cities for the West and the West coast, but the things they were fleeing followed them.
Regarding immigrants, in the 80’s there were suddenly a lot of Asians who succeeded admirably in our schools (bad as they were) and who aroused some jealousy in American kids, especially Blacks. My school stayed Black, but there was two Asian girls who were like fish out of water - I wanted them out of there because we could not give them a proper education. (I wanted all better kids out of there.)
Over time the schools worsened and immigration from Mexico and other places increased. So you now have the nightmare in LA that we had here on the East coast 30-35 years ago.
America was in a morally weakened state during this period and I think a lot of foreigners sensed this and wanted to come in while the doors were flung open and the social benefits available. It is the same in Europe; it’s just that the US is huge, more absorbant, so the decaying process may be a bit slower.
This is a bit off topic. Mr. Auster may not want to print it. That’s the most I can say briefly. Hope it helps.
Thank you. So the decay as you see it happened 30-35 years ago and spread to the East coast?
I view the mid sixties in America as still a conservative time. But as I said before, I was VERY surprised to hear unedited footage of RFK essentially using what is today considered politically correct speach in the Ambassador Hotel.
Liberalism spread rapidly sometime in the 1960’s, but when and why?
One last word (with Mr. Auster’s permission). The Western world as a whole was struck by radicalism in the 60’s causing a rupture with the past that is irreversible. A corpse remains warm for a while, so America may have seemed more conservative simply because not everybody was instantly and simultaneously corrupted. Everything did not go up in a puff of smoke.
Regarding the public schools, the rot moved WESTWARD,following those in flight from East coast urban decay.
Regarding immigration and its effects on education - this is a huge topic. Legal newcomers- especially Asians- adapted to our schools much better than Black kids who were citizens but in rebellion against the US.
The inner city attitudes eventually succeeded in corrupting most schools, but this only happened because teachers, counselors, administrators, parents etc.. CAVED IN to the kids out of fear and apathy. Everybody became Pontius Pilate - they washed their hands of it, leaving the terrain open to the extreme left who moved in easily and took over. Many people, not just immigrants, contributed to the collapse of education.
Whew!! That’s all for now. I have errands. Talk to you soon.
Thanks to Myriam for her powerful account of the disaster of the ’60s.
If the Democratic party went crazy in the ’60s, basically turning against civilization and its standards in the name of radical equality and expressive freedom, then it’s not impossible that Democrats could realize the terrible mistake they have made, repent of it, and turn back. The thing is, liberals live in a self-enclosed world where their assumptions are never challenged. Myriam says a charismatic leader could do it, speak to them, show them where they had gone wrong. This is all imaginary of course. But is it so terrible to imagine a scenario by which evil is turned back toward the good?
It’s not terrible to imagine a scenario by which evil is turned back toward the good. It’s just that the Democrats don’t see themselves as doing anything wrong. They are asserting themselves in order to break down the majority structure.
If a minority group doesn’t feel accepted, or is rejected by the majority group, it will attack the majority. This is what the Democrats are doing and it is perfectly logical. Conservatives make the mistake of seeing them as irrational, but they most certainly are not.
I have worked with several Jewish and Italian tort lawyers. They are people that most conservatives would look upon with disdain because they sue doctors, run up insurance bills, etc. (Hey…I needed summer work!)
One of them approached me point blank and said “Do you know why there are so many Jewish and Italians in personal injury work?” I replied that I didn’t know. He said because the WASP establishment wouldn’t hire Jews and Italians in the 1950s, so they set about doing this kind of work. I don’t blame them.
By calling the Democratic party evil, I believe we lose sight of the rationalism in their behavior. This is why there won’t be a “charismatic leader” who will “speak to them, show them where they had gone wrong.” This leader won’t emerge because from their perspective they’re going in the right direction.
“This leader won’t emerge because from their perspective they’re going in the right direction.”
Mark is missing the premise of this whole discussion, which is that many Democrats are filled now with doubt and misgivings, they’re realizing that their ideology is rejected by too many Americans for it to succeed at the moment, and so they are potentially open to new thoughts and directions.
I most certainly understand your point, I just believe you are mistaken.
Democrats are in despair, but they’re not open to thoughts: they’re just mad as heck. When Democrats are proposing splitting the country in half or moving to Canada, that’s not a sign they’re open to traditionalist ideas.
I said they were potentially open.
The question seems to be: how many Democrats do in fact have an underlying “true core belief…in the good life for everyone”? Some undoubtedly do, but for too many, a life of negation IS the good life. I’m struck by the number of books and articles that appeared during this last election campaign with titles like “The Bush-Hater’s Handbook” and “I Hate….[followed by a list of names of presumptively right-wing people]”. Doubtless there are people who hate Bush because they believe that he’s a barrier to something they believe in, like health care for all Americans; but there are others who use health care as a stick to do what they really want to do—beat up Bush/Daddy/America. As to which of these two groups will ultimately embody the soul of the Democratic party, who knows? It’s possible that the better group will flee the party, leaving it increasingly in the hands of the nuts. Which, if it finally discredited the nuts, wouldn’t be a bad thing at all.
To digress: I saw a nicely representative bit of leftism today in Toronto’s NOW Magazine. An interviewer tried (unsuccessfully, as it happened) to get Bill Maher to admit that Bush is “more dangerous than Osama”. But of course he’s more dangerous; anyone who commands nuclear weapons is more dangerous than someone who doesn’t, just as anyone with a gun is more dangerous than anyone without one. But “dangerousness” is a complete dodge (after all, police are “dangerous” to criminals). By invoking “dangerousness” the liberal/leftist avoids questions of good and evil—good thing, too since, often as not, he’s at least formally committed to denying that good and evil really exist.
“Doubtless there are people who hate Bush because they believe that he’s a barrier to something they believe in, like health care for all Americans; but there are others who use health care as a stick to do what they really want to do—beat up Bush/Daddy/America.”
Yes. But it’s precisely in the extremity to which this attitude has now arrived, that the thought arises that it can’t continue any further, it’s reached its limit, these people are going to start to see that there’s something wrong with the path that they’re on.
And Paul has described that path accurately. The hate comes from deciding that there’s something intrinsic about America/Daddy/Republicans/whites/Bush that prevents America from realizing the good society in which everyone is secure and free. This attidude began in the 60s. Before then, liberals defered to America and its institutions; there was a conservative element mixed with their liberalism. But in the sixties, they decided that America and its institutions were not good things that needed some reform, but bad things that stood in the way of peace and justice and equality. And that’s when the hate began which has reached a climax today.
So I’m suggesting (and it’s just a thought, a possibility, not something I’m predicting), that this radical virus may have reached the point where it is playing itself out in the souls of liberals, like an addict realizing the nature of his addiction, and that some of them may be ready to grasp the wrongness of what they’re doing and to turn from it.
Again, this is just a possibility, maybe a very tiny possibility. But I think it’s worth discussing.
As my grandmother was wont to say: from your lips to God’s ear!
I think Mr. Auster is on to something. I’ve been thinking about this same topic since the Demos lost the election—not that I am rooting for them! Mr. Auster made the shrewd observation a few days and posts ago that (to paraphrase) “a weak party in a two-party system is NOT healthy for the country” or something to that effect. That statement stopped me in my tracks. Perhaps losing this election will be the best antidote for that party. Their recovery is important to the process, whether we agree with them or not. I also agree with Myriam that a charismatic leader may just lead them (the Demos) through The Red Sea and to the promised land (victory?). One thing I see as very positive is the aging/attrition of that party’s “leaders”. Formerly divisive leaders like AL Sharpton and Jess Jackson and even Hillary Clinton are no longer the “radical ideologues” they used to be. They are old, fat, well-fed former leaders who have become, in my opinion, “dinosaurs in their own time”! Many of the young leftists joing the Greens or Nader’s forces. I mean to say that the world/society has gone past them and their radicalism, and they (Jesse and Al) have lost their “sting”. I no longer worry about a Hillary candidacy in ‘08 because she has lost HER “sting”. She’s become, I believe, irrelevant. I believe the country has shifted and it is moving away from them at a brisk pace. The election showed that. Don’t forget—Kerry didn’t only garner votes from loyal Demos! There were a lot of folks so angry with Bush that they voted for Kerry who in normal situations wouldn’t vote Democrat if their lives depended on it. But times have changed.
During the campaign, I wrote conservative friends about how the Demos were “just our (to conservatives) ‘acknowledged enemies’” and how “it is the RINOs and neo-cons leading the GOP who are now our REAL ‘domestic enemies’” (after the terrorists and Communists). Bush & Co. are proving that with every passing day.