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Private Schools for the Poor What Liberals Think About Conservatives

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Who's Out of Touch?

by Christopher Chantrill
July 25, 2009 at 1:20 pm


IN THE CANADIAN Ottawa Citizen David Warren reckons that US liberals are out of touch. He says it all got started long ago when the afternoon newspapers started to fail and their predictably conservative views no longer balanced the liberal morning newspapers. The result?

[Liberals] have been freed, for more than a generation, from anything resembling serious public debate, and have thus got in the habit of proceeding with an infinitely extendible agenda (through the courts if there are legislative delays). The right has meanwhile got in the habit of feeling disenfranchised.

That explains the outrage “at the very existence of Sarah Palin, not only by progressive Democrats but by urbane ‘establishment’ Republicans[.]”

But in the London Times Daniel Finkelstein thinks it’s the US conservatives that are out of touch. For him, the resignation of Gov. Palin shows that Republicans don’t get it.

There is no more eloquent statement of modern Republicanism than resigning office with time still on the clock. Mrs Palin has chosen to talk about power, rather than exercise it. She would rather write a book and give lectures about being a governor than actually be a governor. And her party has made the same choice.

Both Palin and the GOP, he writes, would rather be “angry outsiders” than struggle with the responsibilities of power.

Notice, however, that these two commentators are not that far apart on their view of the facts. Warren writes that conservatives feel “disenfranchised;” Finkelstein says they are “angry outsiders.”

Finkelstein thinks that conservatives are being self-indulgent. He advises conservatives to get serious and learn to win friends and influence people in the liberal media.

The Republicans have to win round the liberal media. They have to build friends in it. They have to use it to win. Now that really would be an end to politics as usual.

But Warren has a different view. He concludes that Palin’s resignation decision and her recent “cap and trade” article in the Washington Post means one thing. It means war.

We are going to have a war, next door in the U.S.A. — a war between two world views that have become very nearly mutually incomprehensible.

You see the difference. Finkelstein thinks that conservatives should forget their dreams, get with the program, and learn to live with the liberal hegemony. Warren thinks that conservatives are getting ready to start a revolution.

When you want to have a revolution, the real revolution takes in peoples’ minds. You are not just trying to win elections and wield political power. You want to change minds, and get people to believe in your vision of a glorious future, your city on a hill.

A century ago the great-grandparents of our liberal friends had a vision. They would build a society where everyone had access to a decent job, decent housing, and free education. In due course, the American people said to them: OK, you sold us. Go ahead and build it.

When you get to implement a political vision, and you don’t listen as well as you should, and you don’t learn from your mistakes as you should, there is a consequence.

You end up with the squalor of trying to keep those decent jobs going at Government Motors with taxpayers’ money, refusing to admit that your mortgage meltdown has utterly betrayed the marginal homeowner, and trying not to admit that your free education system has utterly betrayed the poor.

That’s when the American people start to say: enough of getting with the liberal program. It’s broken! Get it liberals? B-R-O-K-E-N!

That’s when impractical visionaries return to painting glorious visions of a conservative city on a hill. Cunning politicians start persuading people to believe in the vision. They urge their followers to follow them out of liberal Egypt towards the conservative Promised Land. And that’s when observers like David Warren start to write about a culture war.

You can see why the get-with-the-program people don’t like Sarah Palin. Sarah Palin means trouble for them and their comfortable status quo. But their disdain really doesn’t matter. So Palin didn’t punch her ticket correctly and finish her term as governor. So she muffed a couple of interviews in the fall of 2008. Palin’s style of politics isn’t about perfect resumes and flawless execution. You don’t send Sarah Palin into the game to sit upon a lead. You send her in to get the team fired up and make things happen. You get ready for touchdowns—and also fumbles and interceptions.

The awful truth about liberalism is its central delusion, the notion that life can be neatly organized into rational bureaucratic programs. It turns everything it touches into soulless clanking monster.

The glorious truth about conservatism is its love of life. Before princes, principalities and powers comes life and love, mothers and babies, children and families, struggle and sacrifice, a city on a hill.

Now, who in our public life most symbolizes this conservative truth?

Christopher Chantrill blogs at www.roadtothemiddleclass.com.

Buy his Road to the Middle Class.

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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

Racial Discrimination

[T]he way “to achieve a system of determining admission to the public schools on a nonracial basis,” Brown II, 349 U. S., at 300–301, is to stop assigning students on a racial basis. The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race.
Roberts, C.J., Parents Involved in Community Schools vs. Seattle School District

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

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

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.


[In the] higher Christian churches... they saunter through the liturgy like Mohawks along a string of scaffolding who have long since forgotten their danger. If God were to blast such a service to bits, the congregation would be, I believe, genuinely shocked. But in the low churches you expect it every minute.
Annie Dillard, Holy the Firm


[Every] sacrifice is an act of impurity that pays for a prior act of greater impurity... without its participants having to suffer the full consequences incurred by its predecessor. The punishment is commuted in a process that strangely combines and finesses the deep contradiction between justice and mercy.
Frederick Turner, Beauty: The Value of Values


Within Pentecostalism the injurious hierarchies of the wider world are abrogated and replaced by a single hierarchy of faith, grace, and the empowerments of the spirit... where groups gather on rafts to take them through the turbulence of the great journey from extensive rural networks to the mega-city and the nuclear family...
David Martin, On Secularization

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

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

Drang nach Osten

There was nothing new about the Frankish drive to the east... [let] us recall that the continuance of their rule depended upon regular, successful, predatory warfare.
Richard Fletcher, The Barbarian Conversion

Government Expenditure

The Union publishes an exact return of the amount of its taxes; I can get copies of the budgets of the four and twenty component states; but who can tell me what the citizens spend in the administration of county and township?
Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America

presented by Christopher Chantrill

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