Skip to comments.Where Have All the Liberals Gone?
Posted on 08/06/2011 5:47:34 AM PDT by Kaslin
What happens when people who completely dominate the conversation have nothing to say?
What happens when the people who talk the most and are listened to the most about our nations most serious problems do not have a plausible solution to any of them? What I think happens is the current state of affairs.
Let me explain. Sometime in the mid-1970s, near the end of the Vietnam War, liberalism in America died an intellectual death. Since that time, virtually every new idea whether good or bad about how to solve our most important economic problems has come from the right. Virtually nothing has come from the left.
Do you doubt that? Okay, its test time. Tell me what the liberal answer is to the problem of our failing public schools. ..tick, tick, tick .. Im waiting . tick, tick, tick . Give up? What about the liberal solution to the failed War on Poverty? pause .. pause .. pause . No luck there either?
Okay, lets take what President Obama says is the biggest domestic problem we face. What is the liberal solution to the huge unfunded liabilities in Social Security and Medicare? .. Cant think of one? What about solving the problem of unfunded pensions and post-retirement health care benefits for state and local workers? . Not even a vague suggestion or two? Wow. We seem to be really striking out.
Well, can you tell me what a liberal income tax code would look like? Zip. How about a liberal international economic system? Nada.
Note: Im not asking if you have a liberal acquaintance who has an opinion or two on these matters. Im asking if you can produce a solution that would be generally recognized as the liberal solution.
If I asked what are the conservative solutions, you probably wouldnt hesitate for very long. For education, there is school choice. For a failed welfare system, tough love. For unfunded entitlements, personal accounts so that individuals can save and invest and pay for their own retirement benefits. Instead of the current income tax code, a flat tax. In international affairs, free trade.
Is there anything that is comparable to these solutions on the left of the political spectrum? I believe not. The reason its so easy to rattle off the conservative answers is because for the last 30 years or so those are the proposals the nation has been debating. The nation has not been debating liberal ideas because there havent been any liberal ideas.
I believe this is also true in health care, by the way, despite ObamaCare. More on that below.
Dont get me wrong. Just because liberals dont have anything to say doesnt mean they are going to clam up. They are just as talkative, just as politically active, just as emotionally committed as ever. They write editorials. They write essays and books. They appear on talk shows. They completely dominate our elite colleges and universities. They dominate the East Coast media. They dominate Hollywood. They are neither humble nor shy.
The chattering class, after all, chatters. And for the past 30 years it has been mainly chattering about well about conservatives.
Let me clarify where Im coming from. These conservative ideas are not self-evidently conservative. Sweden has a full-blown school voucher system, but most Americans probably think of Sweden as socialist. Thirty countries in the world have either partially or completely privatized their social security systems with private retirement accounts. Yet you would probably call most of these countries welfare states.
Whats happening isnt that conservatives have all the good ideas or that they are smarter than liberals. Whats happening is that conservatives are trying to solve problems and liberals arent. Ironically, if liberals were equally intent on finding solutions, the two sides might agree 90% of the time!
But as it is, liberal commentators have been largely on the sidelines in almost all the important public policy struggles. The school choice battle has been raging all over the country for the last two decades. But that has been mainly a battle pitting conservative reformers against special interests (the teachers unions). For the most part, liberals havent really been involved. Similarly, the struggle for welfare reform, the flat tax, Social Security privatization, etc., has cast conservative reformers against special interests and entrenched bureaucracies. Liberals have been mainly irrelevant.
Health care might seem to be an exception to all this, but it really isnt. The only people on the left who have a firm idea about what to do about health care are the socialists. They want everybody to be in a Canadian-type system. And almost all the serious health care debates of the past two decades have pitted conservatives against socialists, not conservatives against liberals.
Precisely because there really is no liberal solution to health care problems, the legislation we finally got was a Rube Goldberg contraption put together by competing special interests. Not only is it completely devoid of any ideological underpinnings, its not even clear that most liberals even regard ObamaCare as liberal legislation. (See Paul Krugman, for example.)
Dont believe me? The next time youre in conversation with a liberal friend, ask him to explain how ObamaCare will actually work. Odds are he will have no idea.
The special irony in all this is that the conservative presidential candidate John McCain had a health reform proposal that was more progressive and more radical than Barack Obamas. (By more progressive, I mean more egalitarian a lot more egalitarian.) Think about that. Had the Democrats in Congress endorsed McCains plan they would have had a reform far more consistent with their professed values than the plan Obama campaigned on. Instead, they completely sacrificed principle and let the special interests write the law we are all supposed to live under.
These observations are the best explanation I can offer for the extreme bitterness that permeates Washington, the editorial pages of the New York Times and our overall national public policy discourse.
Liberals used to be the reformers. Liberalism provided the new ideas needed to reform institutions and solve problems. Conservatives, by contrast were viewed as reactionaries. They clung to the past and resisted change.
Today those roles have been completely reversed. In a very real sense liberals arent liberal any more.
I think they are angry about that.
To the Christian Hell?
The liberal solution to ANY problem is TMAI...Throw Money At It. And always—OTHER people’s money.
They are right here in Massachusetts!
The whole northeast from Delaware up??
I have pre-set a left channel that I go to when I want to pick up on the enemy and ... I gutt'a tell ya' ... THAT channel is one of about three that I'll bounce around with and they all sound more patriot than commie these days.
The callers are saying things like .. "We progressives need to hold Obama accountable .. ". and etc.
It's almost a pleasure to hear them complain about their president and this administration.
I no longer hear, "Bush's fault ... we inherited ... ", etc.
Can we send you ours from CA, OR and WA?
Maybe they don’t think they have to do any more seeing as how America is where the communists won.
It wasn’t like Red Dawn. They got voted into elected office all across the land. Now, the American people couldn’t fathom life without their Nanny State.
Not the sort of progress I want.
The “liberals” don’t have to say anything, they’re entrenched, in power and not going away. The liberals/progressives described are the “useful idiots” of the socialists/totalitarians. The socialists have allowed the leaders of their socialist collectives (useful idiots are inside these collectives) come to the forefront to do their bidding. Their collectives/UNaccountable bureaucracies (more socialism) are everywhere. “Useful idiot” speech is not amplified but we catch a glimpse of it when cable channels or comedy shows are interviewing the useful idiot on the street about politics.
LOL, well with all the libs already here plus all the illegals I’m not sure we’d have room for anymore! AND as Hank Johnson pointed out about Guam, MA may tip over or sink if we add more libs/illegals!
Be careful what you ask for liberals. In every case of a communist takeover, the useful idiots that the communists used to climb to the top were the first ones to get a bullet to the back of the head. It’s obvious that this would need to be done because they would be the first to realize the mistake they made, and warn the others. By then, it would be too late.
What, is he kidding? Our governments, schools, TV, and movies are infested with them. It's why we're in such a mess, a mere shell of our former greatness.
Believe me, libs never shut up. And they never give up on liberalism. Oh, there’s an occasional David Mamet or Ron Silver, but if my lib relatives, sisters, and daughter-in-laws are any indication, liberalism is alive and well. Deep down they probably realize Obama (and Obamaism) is a rank disaster. That doesn’t mean they’re going to start voting for Republicans en masse. My very lib daughter-in-law’s description of Michelle Bachman: “she’s crazy.” Herman Cain: “he’s crazy.” Members of the Tea Party: “they’re crazy.” Most libs are very sure they’re the smartest people in the world...even as their fervently desired liberal plans go down in flames.
I read an article a few years back that described where conservative money went -— into conservative think tanks like Heritage and Cato. That’s where the solutions get generated.
The left spent their money on Acorn and Unions.
Liberals make good money from perpetuating the problems. Why solve them, and have 3/4 of their artificially created government and public interest group jobs dry up and vanish? There is a reason they talk so loudly about how bad things are but never want to make any substantive changes. They are living under their dream system already.
“What, is he kidding? Our governments, schools, TV, and movies are infested with them. It’s why we’re in such a mess, a mere shell of our former greatness. “
I disagree. Those aren’t liberals. Those are Socialists and Marxists.
Today’s liberal is the family who go to church on Sunday, believes in a strong military, but still thinks that the nation has a responsibility to take care of those less fortunate.
Today’s liberal is the middle aged guy who believes in all conservative values, but thinks there is noting wrong with gays having civil unions.
Today’s liberal is the woman who shares conservative values, but leave her body alone.
Today’s liberal is a moderate. A RiNO. To the left of that, you are a commie.