Over at The American Prospect, they decided to get a head start on scaring the public half to death this Halloween season by publishing a “Liberal Manifesto” which carefully lays out what the authors believe all good liberals should stand for.
This kind of earnestness on the part of the left is something we’ve grown used to over the years. In fact, it is a defining characteristic of modern liberalism, this cloying self righteousness. It fits in with their constant need to avoid introspection by formulating intellectual conceits based on a heroic self-image, standing up against the villainy of the opposition with only the lantern of truth and a pen to battle evil. Creating a “moral” universe that has about as much foundation as a pool of quicksand, liberals who are constantly defining and redefining themselves fail to see the monumental irony in their efforts to simplify their riot of conceits into any kind of logical or coherent set of principles.
Give the boys at American Prospect credit for trying. However, in the process of trying to be politically reasonable – for example; with regard to the use of force – the authors reveal where the emotional underpinnings of Bush Derangement Syndrome originates as well as a truly frightening glimpse into a future where foreign policy is run by the left:
Make no mistake: We believe that the use of force can, at times, be justified. We supported the use of American force, together with our allies, in Bosnia, Kosovo, and Afghanistan. But war must remain a last resort. The Bush administration’s emphatic reliance on military intervention is illegitimate and counterproductive. It creates unnecessary enemies, degrades the national defense, distracts from actual dangers, and ignores the imperative necessity of building an international order that peacefully addresses the aspirations of rising powers in Asia and Latin America.
The misapplication of military power also imperils American freedom at home. The president claims authority, as commander in chief, to throw American citizens into military prison for years on end without any hearing, civil or military, that would allow them to confront the charges against them. He claims the power to wiretap Americans’ conversations without warrants, in direct violation of congressional commands. These usurpation’s presage what are likely to be even more drastic measures if another attack takes place on American soil.
“Unnecessary enemies?” Name one nation pre-Iraq War who wasn’t an enemy and who now sports an undying hatred of the United States as a result of our intervention?
The blindness necessary to posit the notion that America’s enemies have changed in the last decade, much less the last five years is Exhibit 1 in the case against liberal control of foreign policy. After all, the mullahs wanted to talk to us in 2003 and we spurned them! Gotta be the Iraq War that made Ahmadinejad call for our destruction. The fact that one of the most consistent policy pronouncements out of the Iranians since the 1979 revolution has been statements supporting the destruction of Israel and the United States doesn’t seem to have made much of a dent in the thought processes of even these liberal “hawks.”
And please note the inclusion of Bosnia and Kosovo in places liberals are willing to use force – two interventions where no US interests were involved, that the United Nations did not sanction the use of force, and where conservative Republicans made up President Clinton’s most vocal supporters.
It is this kind of myopia that shows itself throughout this Manifesto. Witness very carefully what these “sane” liberals believe:
We reaffirm the great principle of liberalism: that every citizen is entitled by right to the elementary means to a good life. We believe passionately that societies should afford their citizens equal treatment under the law—regardless of accidents of birth, race, sex, property, religion, ethnic identification, or sexual disposition. We want to redirect debate to the central questions of concern to ordinary Americans—their rights to housing, affordable health care, equal opportunity for employment, and fair wages, as well as physical security and a sustainable environment for ourselves and future generations.
Instead of securing these principles, the president and his party view the suppression of votes indulgently and propose new requirements for voting that will make it still harder for the poor and the elderly to exercise their democratic rights.
Absolutely fascinating. After an obligatory nod to constitutional protections, the “central questions” of concern to ordinary voters may very well be what liberals believe they are. What should scare the bejeebees out of these same voters is how our friends on the left plan on accomplishing these feats of legislative legerdemain in order to bring about our liberal utopia.
What is a “fair” wage? Who decides? Is there really a “right” to housing? Maybe I was asleep in civics class when that part of the Constitution was discussed. And we’ve already seen the inventive ways that liberals define “equal opportunity” for employment. By taking a necessary function of the national government – protecting minorities from discrimination – and turning it into a weapon used at the beck and call of the special pleaders in the so-called civil rights movement, liberals have made criminals of companies whose only transgression is that they got in the cross hairs of groups like the NAACP, PUSH, or other legalized extortion outfits.
But it is in their not well concealed hatred of the President and their ideological opponents that we see where the intellectual underpinnings of Bush Derangement Syndrome originates. To actually believe that both political parties don’t do their damnedest to suppress the opposition’s vote is either the height of naivete or delusional thinking. I daresay the massive, coordinated campaign in the press over the last several weeks designed to discourage Republicans (especially religious conservatives) from voting gives the lie to any attempt to assign blame for quashing votes to one side only.
And to further believe that it is voter “suppression” to take the most modest of steps to ensure that the historically crooked big city machines (run by Democrats) aren’t able to cheat on election day by requiring people to be able to prove they are who they say they are when showing up at the polls in order to keep them from voting a dozen or more times is pure sophistry.
Sophistry would be an improvement over this kind of idiocy:
The administration’s denial of reality reaches a delusional peak in its refusal to acknowledge basic science describing the massive climate change now under way. Against the advice of all serious experts, the government has grossly failed in its responsibility to our descendants. It has consistently sought to undermine the Kyoto treaty and refused to encourage energy conservation. We insist on a clean break with this shameful record. Our government should be taking the lead in reducing greenhouse gases, recognizing our responsibilities as the world’s leading polluter. We should be investing massively in energy sources that carry out a commitment to environmental stewardship and help restore our manufacturing base at the same time.
First, there is nothing “basic” about the science of global warming or climate change. There may, in fact, be no more complex question ever confronted in a collective way by so many scientific disciplines. Perhaps the scientific riddle of the atomic bomb, an effort that involved chemists, several branches of theoretical physicists, and engineers, to name a few rivals the problems confronting the scientific community in coming up with practical answers to the questions surrounding the theory of global warming. It doesn’t help that ideology has so suffused the debate that contrarians can be tarred with the sin of denying reality. Which reality? Whose reality?
The only consensus that scientists seem to have achieved is that the planet is getting warmer and that humans are at least partially to blame. Beyond that, specific, measurable, scientific progress in answering basic questions like why are CO2 levels in the lower atmosphere not rising as fast as the models say they should or is global warming actually a result of cyclical solar activity is lacking.
Does requiring proof before we penalize ourselves to the tune of a couple of trillion dollars in lost and reduced economic activity make sense? Not to a liberal. And the Manifesto’s call for a restoration of our manufacturing base at the same time that we’re supposedly slashing our greenhouse gas emissions to 1993 levels as called for by Kyoto is jaw dropping stupidity. How, praytell, are we to increase economic activity in a sector of the economy that contributes enormous amounts of greenhouse gas emissions while staying competitive with China and India – two nations not obligated under Kyoto to curtail their atmospheric pollution?
Smoke and mirrors, I guess. As long as the smoke doesn’t pollute.
Where the Manifesto loses much of its focus is in this digression from the facts:
The administration’s contempt for science is of a piece with its general disdain for reason—a prejudice that any modern society ought to have left behind. Whether confronting scientific research, evolution, birth control, foreign policy, drug pricing, or the manner in which it makes decisions, the Bush administration has defied evidence and logic, sabotaging its own professional civil servants. It refuses serious consultation with experts and critics. It acts secretly, in defiance of the powers of Congress. It refuses to identify those whose advice it solicits, even concealing the names of the vice president’s staff. It stifles civil servants attempting to do their jobs. It appoints cronies whose political loyalty cannot compensate for their incompetence. When challenged, it responds with lies and distortions.
A close look at this litany of complaints reveals some truth along with some typical liberal bunkum. Refusing to listen to critics and not taking the advice of political foes would be sins committed by every President since Washington. Cronyism is also as old as the republic – although this Administration has made a nasty habit of placing their cronies in positions where they fail miserably – and publicly.
But “sabotaging” its civil servants? And what powers of Congress has the Administration “defied” by acting secretly? This is hyperbole, pure and simple. Perhaps more than other recent Administrations, this one has found itself at war with the inside the beltway crowd – especially in the intelligence community. But civil servants are not elected. And when they seek to undermine policy established by elected officials just because they disagree with it, what else are you to do except “stifle” them? The brazenness with which this kind of bureaucratic turf protection and disregard has gone on for 6 years should have these good government liberals up in arms. Except, of course, they agree with the bureaucrats that policies they oppose should be squelched.
While the Manifesto is primarily inoffensive liberal pablum, this section is risible:
This government’s failures to respect the process of public reason have generated predictable consequences—none of them good. The Bush administration has failed to protect its citizens from disaster—from foreign enemies on September 11, 2001, and from the hurricane and flood that afflicted the Gulf Coast in 2005. It has driven the war in Iraq to an impasse. It is incapable of presenting a plausible strategy to bring our military intervention to a tenable conclusion.
How does a failure “to respect the process of public reason” by this Administration prevent an attack where the terrorists who carried it out were trained and nurtured under the previous do-nothing Presidency of Bill Clinton and while the United States government ignored the ideology that animated them for more than a quarter century? And “public reason” should tell any rational person to get the hell out of the way of a hurricane – which highlights the failure of state and local governments to implement their own disaster plans not Washington’s timid and belated response once the storm had hit.
Finally, the Manifesto makes clear what the real problem with America is; too many people vote for conservatives:
We refuse to confine our criticisms to personalities. We believe that the abuses of power that have been commonplace under Bush’s rule must be laid not only at his door—and the vice president’s—but at the doors of a conservative movement that has, for decades, undermined government’s ability to act reasonably and effectively for the common good.
We love this country. But true patriotism does not consist of bravado or calumny. It resides in faithfulness to our great constitutional ideals. We are a republic, not a monarchy. We believe in the rule of law, not secret prisons. We insist on justice for all, not privilege for the few. In repudiating these American ideals, the Bush administration disgraces America and damages our claim to democratic leadership in the larger world.
Now this is more like the liberalism we’ve come to know and love; irrational, incoherent, sloganeering instead of rational thought, gross exaggeration, and the inevitable contradictions – as in the authors generously “refusing to confine their criticisms to personalities” and then proceeding to do so by saying that the “Bush Administration disgraces America.”
But it is the calumnious statement that conservatives have “for decades, undermined government’s ability to act reasonably and effectively for the common good” that the authors reveal modern liberalism to be the collectivist nightmare they truly are. Any group or ideology that purports to speak for the “common good” in a country of such radically diverse interests, sects, races, creeds, and economic strata should be feared. Not only is the Manifesto saying that the American people are idiots because they have voted for conservatives consistently over the last quarter century, but that conservatives themselves are illegitimate guardians of the public trust with regards to the “common weal.”
I believe in the collective wisdom of the people over the ability of government to determine what is actually the “common good.” And this is the primary difference between liberals and conservatives. In a nation of 300 million people, popular will makes itself known only through the ballot box and not in some academics ivory tower or conference room at a liberal think tank. The failure of modern liberalism to understand this simple, straightforward truth about America and her people is why they continue to lose elections – not because they haven’t “defined themselves” properly. They can come out with a dozen “Manifestos” and as long as they refuse to acknowledge their utter and complete contempt for the will of the people, they will remain in the political wilderness.
As the Democrats seem poised to take power on election day, liberals might remind themselves that only the extraordinary hubris and stupidity of Republicans and not any grand clash of ideas is giving them this victory. If they have learned nothing from Republicans about listening to the people as to what constitutes the “common good” and continue to treat the voters as wayward children who need to be coddled and nannied, then they will almost certainly be returned to the political oblivion to which they have been banished these many years.