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Our Unserious Liberals

by Christopher Chantrill
February 21, 2004 at 7:00 pm

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THE HARDEST thing for indispensable people to learn is that they are expendable.

Imagine what our indispensable liberals are thinking.  In four years, the evil Republicans have cut taxes, got us into a war, and demanded accountability from our teachers!  Who do they think they are? 

It turns out that liberals are expendable, and the world is passing them by.

Liberals don’t like it one bit.  They call in to talk radio to rehearse all the wonderful things that bien pensant liberalism has done for us: public education, anti-trust, Social Security, labor unions, civil rights, women’s liberation, Medicare, environmental protection, all done for us.

So, ok, liberals. Thanks for the incandescent moment in 1964 when you harrumphed and got your racist party to pass the great Civil Rights Act that atoned for America’s original sin.    But what about the rest of the story?   How come it all costs so much and delivers so little?  And how come you want still more of our money?

Take John Kerry.  His 100 Days to Change America is a ten point plan that starts with a New National Education Trust Fund, as if we weren’t spending $745 billion each year already on education, and continues with a New Era of National Service as if America didn’t already lead the world in volunteering and community service, an End to the “Era of Ashcroft” as if the demonization of Ashcroft wasn’t all about “Christians Need Not Apply,” a Repeal of the Bush Assault on the Environment as though Bush had rolled back every environmental program of the last 30 years, Rejoin the Community of Nations as though Bush hadn’t put the United States at the head of the table by his bold action against terror and the nations that sponsor it.  And that’s just the first five points.

Then he’ll bring us Affordable Health Care as though the mess in health care wasn’t a direct result of bad Democrat ideas, he’ll Reward Companies that Create Jobs not Phony Corporate Profit as though Democrats ever gave a damn about the health of America’s businesses, Create a Middle Class Economy and End the Privileged Class Economy as though tax cuts for the rich were the drag on the economy rather than the millions of sinecures in government employment, Cut the Deficit in Half in Four Years as if we won’t anyway, and End Influence Peddling and Secret Deals as if Kerry hadn’t been the national poster boy for senatorial influence peddling.

Then there’s John Edwards and his preposterous Two Americas.  Suppose there really were Two Americas in 1900, when the richer you were, the fatter, and the poorer you were, the more hours you worked.  A century later, the poor are fat and the rich are thin; the poor may be poor but they work fewer hours than the rich. Today the real dividing line is cultural, between red states and blue states, between an America that is single, secular, and creative and one that is married, religious, and purposeful. 

Over the last half century, liberals had a pretty good run with our money, and they have The New York Times and the mainstream media to tell them how well they spent it. But Americans wonder why it costs $745 billion a year to give their kids a second rate education.  They wonder why they pay 15 percent of their wages year in and year out for a measly Social Security pension.  They wonder why houses cost so much.  They wonder why their sons are running around in baggy pants that are falling off their hips, and they wonder why their daughters need to show their belly buttons to strangers in the street.

And then they wonder why the top priority of activist liberal judges is to ram gay marriage down their throats.

Above all, they are just so tired of it all.

In 2004, most of the problems America faces are the result of liberals spending other peoples’ money, and doing it badly.  Yet the Democratic base is all riled up because Bush got them into a war that Clinton dodged for eight years.  They are all riled up because Congress passed a law to let government agencies talk to each other about anti-terrorism intelligence.  They are mortified because Bush backed a law to require a teeny bit of accountability for the education establishment.    They are mad as hell because a Supreme Court that liberals cheered for legislating on school busing, school prayer, abortion, and for gay rights, had the insolence to rule against them in a contested presidential election.

I guess there really are two Americas: Serious America, and the other America.

Christopher Chantrill blogs at www.roadtothemiddleclass.com.

Buy his Road to the Middle Class.

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Responsible Self

[The Axial Age] highlights the conception of a responsible self... [that] promise[s] man for the first time that he can understand the fundamental structure of reality and through salvation participate actively in it.
Robert N Bellah, "Religious Evolution", American Sociological Review, Vol. 29, No. 3.


Taking Responsibility

[To make] of each individual member of the army a soldier who, in character, capability, and knowledge, is self-reliant, self-confident, dedicated, and joyful in taking responsibility [verantwortungsfreudig] as a man and a soldier. — Gen. Hans von Seeckt
MacGregor Knox, Williamson Murray, ed., The dynamics of military revolution, 1300-2050


Civil Society

“Civil Society”—a complex welter of intermediate institutions, including businesses, voluntary associations, educational institutions, clubs, unions, media, charities, and churches—builds, in turn, on the family, the primary instrument by which people are socialized into their culture and given the skills that allow them to live in broader society and through which the values and knowledge of that society are transmitted across the generations.
Francis Fukuyama, Trust


What Liberals Think About Conservatives

[W]hen I asked a liberal longtime editor I know with a mainstream [publishing] house for a candid, shorthand version of the assumptions she and her colleagues make about conservatives, she didn't hesitate. “Racist, sexist, homophobic, anti-choice fascists,” she offered, smiling but meaning it.
Harry Stein, I Can't Believe I'm Sitting Next to a Republican


Liberal Coercion

[T]he Liberal, and still more the subspecies Radical... more than any other in these latter days seems under the impression that so long as he has a good end in view he is warranted in exercising over men all the coercion he is able[.]
Herbert Spencer, The Man Versus the State


Moral Imperatives of Modern Culture

These emerge out of long-standing moral notions of freedom, benevolence, and the affirmation of ordinary life... I have been sketching a schematic map... [of] the moral sources [of these notions]... the original theistic grounding for these standards... a naturalism of disengaged reason, which in our day takes scientistic forms, and a third family of views which finds its sources in Romantic expressivism, or in one of the modernist successor visions.
Charles Taylor, Sources of the Self


US Life in 1842

Families helped each other putting up homes and barns. Together, they built churches, schools, and common civic buildings. They collaborated to build roads and bridges. They took pride in being free persons, independent, and self-reliant; but the texture of their lives was cooperative and fraternal.
Michael Novak, The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism


Society and State

For [the left] there is only the state and the individual, nothing in between. No family to rely on, no friend to depend on, no community to call on. No neighbourhood to grow in, no faith to share in, no charities to work in. No-one but the Minister, nowhere but Whitehall, no such thing as society - just them, and their laws, and their rules, and their arrogance.
David Cameron, Conference Speech 2008


Faith and Politics

As far as the Catholic Church is concerned, the principal focus of her interventions in the public arena is the protection and promotion of the dignity of the person, and she is thereby consciously drawing particular attention to principles which are not negotiable... [1.] protection of life in all its stages, from the first moment of conception until natural death; [2.] recognition and promotion of the natural structure of the family... [3.] the protection of the right of parents to educate their children.
Pope Benedict XVI, Speech to European Peoples Party, 2006


Never Trust Experts

No lesson seems to be so deeply inculcated by the experience of life as that you should never trust experts. If you believe doctors, nothing is wholesome: if you believe the theologians, nothing is innocent: if you believe the soldiers, nothing is safe. They all require their strong wine diluted by a very large admixture of insipid common sense.
Lord Salisbury, “Letter to Lord Lytton”


Conservatism's Holy Grail

What distinguishes true Conservatism from the rest, and from the Blair project, is the belief in more personal freedom and more market freedom, along with less state intervention... The true Third Way is the Holy Grail of Tory politics today - compassion and community without compulsion.
Minette Marrin, The Daily Telegraph


Class War

In England there were always two sharply opposed middle classes, the academic middle class and the commercial middle class. In the nineteenth century, the academic middle class won the battle for power and status... Then came the triumph of Margaret Thatcher... The academics lost their power and prestige and... have been gloomy ever since.
Freeman Dyson, “The Scientist as Rebel”


presented by Christopher Chantrill

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