Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Hello Liberals: Let's Talk

Here's a telling August 29 tweet from @rogerlsimon:
Not a single #liberal friend of mine wants to discuss politics now. They're humiliated by Obama.
That's a pity, because I'd say that now is a time when conservatives could have a really fruitful talk with their liberal friends.  It wouldn't be the kind of talk that liberals wanted to have back in 2006 when it was all "Bush Lied, People Died."

No, the kind of talk I'd like would be strictly governed by the rules of lefty J├╝rgen Habermas' discourse ethics, a truly intersubjective communication and sincere exchange of truth values between respectful equals.

I feel it's a good time for a talk because exactly because Roger L Simon's liberal friends have all gone silent.  They know that something is wrong.  When people have gone silent like that maybe it is time to have a quiet chat.

As in.

Maybe the feminist concern about a "rape culture" on campus is not quite as important as the race-based grooming and rape of young underclass white girls in the British city of Rotherham.  Maybe there's a problem when normally timid bureaucrats are intimidated with the "diversity" agenda that the left has been pushing for the last generation.

Maybe George W. Bush wasn't a complete idiot about the Middle East.  After all, "regime change" in Iraq was a policy in the Clinton administration. And the Obama policy of retreat seems to have encouraged all kinds of bad actors to emerge from under rocks.  Maybe we should stop the finger-pointing and do a little cooperating.

Maybe liberal activist groups need to dial back a bit on the "killer stats" they use to push their agendas.  There's a piece by Christian Hoff Summers about "Five Feminist Myths That Will Not Die." They range from women's property ownership, sexual slavery, domestic violence, campus assault, and 77 cents on the dollar for women's jobs.

Maybe it wasn't such a good idea to shove Obamacare at us on a bare partisan vote.

Maybe the climate is not quite such a problem as we thought.

Maybe it's not such a good idea to "out" opponents to gay marriage so that they lose their jobs because of their beliefs. Wasn't that what McCarthyism was all about?

Maybe, liberals, it's not such a good idea to turn everything into a political issue.  Look, I get how liberals believe that government is the name for things we do together.  But suppose you are a libertarian or a conservative and you believe that government is force, the apparatus of coercion. If liberals believe that government is a benevolent expert with a rational plan to end oppression and conservatives and libertarians believe that government is force and liberals are legislating liberal morality with their programs, how do we come to a consensus?  We conservatives recall that back in the mid 2000s liberals did not have such a benign view of government.  They saw the Bush administration as a gun to the head of liberalism.  How do we reconcile such radically different views of government?

You see, I think that the idea that government is the name for things we do together, or the idea that "with taxes I buy civilization" is a typical ruling-class delusion. No doubt every ruling class down the ages has a warm feeling about its rule, and thinks of itself as a pipe-smoking father benevolently presiding over a fractious family.  The reality is that, again and again, the people who are not in the ruling class get really angry about the things that the government does to them.  They get the feeling that government is not something we do together; they become convinced that government is something that is done to them.  It doesn't matter if the ruling class decides that the rebellious youth of the day doesn't have a grievance. There's a good argument to be made that the American colonists didn't really have a case against King George.  But they thought they did, and they brought it to a clash of arms, which they ended up winning by the skin of their teeth against the most powerful empire in the world at the time.

That's where I think we are today, liberals.  We conservatives and libertarians don't experience the Obama administration as an administration of hope and change.  We experience it as a corrupt and lawless Chicago-style political machine.  We see President Obama taking all kinds of illegal shortcuts and administrative actions because he can, because the establishment media won't call him on it as they would if he were a Republican.

Maybe all this is just so much noise, and the liberal way will win out and in another ten years we will go to single payer on health care, and we'll have $20 an hour minimum wage and a carbon tax and a successful program to get women into STEM jobs.

But maybe we are at an inflection point.  That, presumably, is what the silence of Roger L Simon's liberal friend means.  His liberal friends are afraid.  They feel the shaking of the foundations and they fear for the future of liberalism.

Maybe Barack Obama will make "progressivism" into just as much of a pejorative as George McGovern made of the word "liberal."  Maybe he will help usher in a generation of Republican governance to replace an utterly discredited Democratic Party.

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