Monday, October 27, 2014

Liberals and their Illusions

Even good liberal Thomas Frank is starting to break away from the Obama infatuation. Why do liberals keep believing that presidential candidates like Jimmy Carter and Barack Obama are non-ideological, he asks at Salon?

Up to now, Frank has rejected the comparison between Carter and Obama as mere partisan insult. What's changed his mind is Rick Perlstein's The Invisible Bridge about the 1970s. Rick includes a detailed account of the 11976 Carter campaign. Carter ran on "pure idealism—idealism without ideology, even." Even his speech-writer James Fallows thought Carter “might look past the tired formulas of left and right and offer something new.” Liberals fell in love with an idea. Sound familiar?

To Thomas Frank, of course, neither Carter nor Obama governed as liberals. Carter's stimulus was too small, and he "was always drawn to fiscal responsibility and 'hard choices.'" Of course Frank hasn't a clue about Fed Chairman G. William Miller that engineering the double-digit inflation of 1979-80. Good solid inflation. That's as lefty as it gets. Ask Venezuela or Argentina.

We liberals are "such losers," writes Frank.
We still “yearn to believe,” as Perlstein says... We persuade ourselves that the answer to the savagery of the right—the way to trump the naked class aggression of the One Percent—is to say farewell to our own tradition and get past politics and ideology altogether. And so we focus on the person of the well-meaning, hyper-intelligent leader. We are so high-minded, we think. We are so scientific.
Well, Thomas Frank, I have a couple of thoughts for you. The point of the "well-meaning, hyper-intelligent leader" is that if you liberals ran Obama as the partisan campus radical he really is you couldn't win national elections. But we savage righties understand that behind the centrist, expert-led rhetoric are the battalions of left-wing "activists" and their advocacy. They do most of their work beneath the radar, and it doesn't hurt chaps like you that the MSM turns their radar off during Democratic administrations.

But the "well-meaning idealism" is not just intended to mislead the rubes. It's also part of the way that liberals mislead themselves. Liberals do not say to themselves that they are going to sicc their activists on anyone that disagrees with them and name and shame them as racists and sexists and homophobes. They say they advocate for tolerance and diversity. They do not say they are going to force people into a one-size-fits-all government program; they say pretty things like "government is the name for things we do together."

Like I say, government is force, politics (i.e., activism) is division, system is domination. But it would never do for nice gentry liberals to realize what their comfortable idealism means in practice.

So liberals will always fall in love with professional politicians that present themselves as "anti-politicians" in love with idealism. Such politicians pander to liberals' self-image of themselves as educated, evolved idealists that just want to build a better society.

The truth is too hard to bear, that "gentry liberals" are just a common-or-garden ruling class in love with themselves and in love with political power. Like any ruling class, they live in a bubble of lies and illusions; they ruthlessly deal themselves subsidies and privileges while the rest of America suffers.

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