The Democrats, the party of a benevolent Liberalism since the 1960's, and with them Liberalism itself have been hijacked by a Leftist Fundamentalist minority. Lest we be accused of bias, see also What's Wrong with Conservatism?
The core Democratic sympathy has become identified with what is left of the political Left in this country, which is a group of people commonly (and mistakenly, but the term has stuck) called Liberals. Perhaps a better term would be Leftist Fundamentalists, or Leftie Fundies. Fortunately, most people who really are liberal (small "l") have generally given up labelling themselves, so I doubt much confusion will be created by using what has become the common terminology. Liberals have let their ideology become shaped by the Leftie Fundies who, like Fundamentalists everywhere, secretly loathe themselves, and seek to become cleansed — good — by giving themselves to an ideology. They are just as dangerous as the Fundamentalists who make up the politically active Christian Right (whom I criticized during the elder Bush Administration), and for the same reason. They seek power so compulsively that they set aside some of the rules that bind us together as a democratic (small "d") society.
It never occurs to Leftie Fundies that there might be a sinister aspect to their orientation toward the world. Let's start with their most basic mantra, which I learned in childhood: the rich hate the poor. In point of fact, the Democratic Party has more large donors than the Republican Party, which gets most of its money from small donations. What is actually going on is that financially successful (or endowed) Liberals feel guilty about having wealth. They must prove that they don't hate the poor by subjecting themselves (as well as those of us who just want to achieve a comfortable retirement) to confiscatory taxation. It's a great scheme — now that they have ascended the financial heights, they pull the ladder up after themselves. (Not to worry, they'll take care of us with Social Security.) And of course they give liberally to the party that espouses their redeeming ideology. The Democratic party is partly funded by the self-hating (or at least pathologically apologetic) rich, and supported by the poor folks who think that their handouts are the best they can get.
Of course, redistribution of wealth is necessary for any society to remain healthy, because wealth naturally concentrates in all economies. Richer people can afford to take bigger chances with their money than poorer people can. Over time such risk-taking is rewarded: the rich get richer and the poor get poorer in comparison to one another. It a universal process in all economies ever studied: if you plot wealth vs the number of people who have each level of wealth you get the famous Pareto curve. Sound economic policy does not try to change the shape of the curve, because that has proved impossible, even for the Soviets. Sound economic policy seeks to move the curve so that more people have more wealth, and almost nobody has so little that deprivation shortens his or her lifespan. To do this, we must create more wealth, and to make it more accessible to more people. For example, we might revive affirmative action, but base it on socioeconomic class and availability of opportunity rather than on race.
But Leftie Fundies are not concerned with wealth creation. They seem not to know that it is possible to create wealth, despite the simple agrarian example of creating wealth by planting, tending, and harvesting a potato vine, or the obvious example of the stock market, which both creates and destroys wealth. Many of them are sympathetic to the idea that the elimination of wealth would mean the elimination of poverty, when it would actually mean the elimination of economic activity and with it the universalization of poverty to the extent that a large fraction of humanity would starve. For Liberals, there is only so much wealth in the world — it cannot be created. This means that those who have wealth must have stolen it from those who do not. Therefore the mere possession of wealth is an injustice which must be corrected by taking from the rich and giving to the poor.
Leftie Fundies are therefore concerned with maintaining the poor, but not with increasing socioeconomic mobility. Hence their nostalgia for their welfare programs, which gave people just enough to keep them poor. They want to keep the poor alive, but they do not want them to become richer. This is not a paradox. The self-haters feel good about themselves when they help the helpless. For this to be a viable long term solution, they need the helpless to remain in need of their ministrations. Liberals leach their self-esteem from creating and maintaining permanent client classes, whom they can then serve. It is a kind of economic (and spiritual) vampirism.
This is more clearly illustrated by another Leftie Fundie pet program, Bilingual Education. Teaching immigrant kids in their native language delays the acquisition of English until the kids are too old to speak it without an accent. In other words, Bilingual Ed as it had been practiced in this country was a way to decrease the average English proficiency of selected ethnic groups (I've never heard a passionate advocate of Bilingual Ed for Europeans) so as to create and maintain a permanent client class to help an army of self-hating do-gooders feel better about themselves. Since speaking English well can confer an economic advantage, some self-hating "haves" (people who feel guilty for having more than someone else, whether or not they are actually wealthy) become self-hating Anglophones, as well.
Fostering communities of non-English speakers combines with the currently fashionable "identity" politics to fragment America. This is perfect for those self-hating "haves" who realize that merely being an American confers a certain amount of economic advantage in the world. They become self-hating Americans, and try to assuage their guilt by seeking to give this country's foreign aid to our enemies as well as (and sometimes in preference to) our friends. Such self-hating Americans tend to side with non-European underdogs against what they see as unfair domination by the West. In other words, its a short trip from self-hating "have" to self-hating American to self-hating Westerner (and Israel basher, since Israel is Western).
The trip can end in a morbid environmentalism. I remember a waitress in Berkeley declaring that the world would better off without any people in it. She had become a self-hating human, assuaging her guilt for being unfairly advantaged with respect to animals and plants by wishing that she and the rest of us didn't exist. To help her feel better, I didn't leave a tip. She might have sent it to the Khmer Rouge (who massacred millions in the Cambodian killing fields).
Lest I be misunderstood, let me state that the ostensible quests of the Leftie Fundies and their too uncritical fellow-travelers, Liberals, are good. Lefties Fundies champion a social agenda that aims to help the downtrodden, the outcasts, the regular working people, and especially the women in all these categories. One problem is in their execution. Their need to be either rescuers or victims (either status confers "goodness") precludes them from offering effective assistance. Their help is enough to get by, but not (generally speaking) enough to get going.
The other problem is in their will to win. As I stated above, the self-haters extract their sense of goodness from their environmental and social programs, particularly their defense of women's access to abortion (with which I am sympathetic). Because these programs, especially abortion, are necessary to Liberals' self-esteem, they must be preserved by all means, fair or foul. This justifies a facile re-interpretation of the laws of this country to advantage Leftie or at least Liberal champions. In particular, Liberals believe the Leftie Fundie lies when they scream "injustice" at the idea of their being held to the letter of the written election laws of Florida, New Jersey, or the United States. What they miss is that the letter of the written law, and a disciplined process for interpreting it, are the greatest guarantors of our liberty, and that their actions and rhetoric undermine it.
"Totalitarian? This government?" sneered Senator Ted Kennedy at the confirmation hearings of (I think) John Ashcroft. Yes, this government and yes, you. Leftie Fundies currently lie and cheat to further their agenda. How great a leap is it for them to return to the more mob-like tactics of the 1960's Chicago Democratic machine in their quest for the power that enables them to redeem themselves?
Now I can harbor doubts about my beliefs, because my sense of "goodness" does not depend on the details of what I believe. Right-wing Christian Fundamentalists and Leftist Fundamentalists (Christian and otherwise) cannot let themselves experience doubt, because their beliefs are what confers "goodness" on them. They cover their doubts with a facade of certainty, which they will defend at aggressively (or passive-aggressively) against their perceived enemies, namely, each other, whom they demonize. If I could, I would put them in a large room together and see if they would mutually annihilate, like particles and anti-particles, liberating enough energy for the rest of us to do something constructive. [Note that this experiment wouldn't work with Leftie Fundies and Islamofacists, because Islamofacists do not threaten the Leftie Fundies' power to redeem themselves — many Lefties would seek redemption by donating to the Islamofacists' charitable front organizations.]
Let me amplify an earlier thought: The written law and its systematic interpretation are the greatest guarantors of our liberty. Leftie Fundies, on the other hand, see the Law as an instrument of Justice, to which they alone have a direct line.
In this much, they are right: Law must be an instrument of Justice. Lex iusta non est lex (an unjust law is not Law) has been known since the Roman Republic. For example, the unjust body of segregationist Law and legal opinion known as Jim Crow (which some readers may be surprised to know was originally enacted by Democrats) had to be broken and swept away. In that sense, Civil War was not truly won until the late 1960's, and it was won largely by Liberals in the name of Justice for all. The entire country is immeasurably better for their effort and their victory.
But they are also wrong: Law, including its systematic and disciplined interpretation, must generally be respected as embodying the agreement of us all on how we shall behave, and the admission that this agreement is currently as close as we can get to Justice. The name for this concept is "procedural Justice." Absolute Justice cannot be achieved by mortals, but it can be approximated by following certain agreed upon procedures, including the procedures for modifying the procedures. In other words, for Law to be effective as an instrument of Justice, we must generally play by the rules.
Leftie Fundies, on the other hand, believe that, since Justice will only be done if they win, procedures that impede their winning must be unjust. This is why they promote the myth that "the Bush brothers stole the election" in Florida in 2000. They saw the effort to hold them to the letter of the written Law as no more legitimate than abusing Robert's Rules of Order in a legislative committee meeting. And since it denied them victory, it denied them Justice.
Again in New Jersey, this month, the letter of the written Law dictated that the incumbent Democratic (and Liberal) Senator Torricelli (who had won the Democratic primary) could not be replaced by a more palatable candidate, because the deadline for ballot changes had passed. Liberals saw the deadline as a mere administrative detail — their belated substitution of Lautenberg was not done out of malfeasance, but out of a desire to prevent the injustice of the enemy regaining a majority in the Senate. The rule could be swept away, and it was, by the New Jersey State Supreme Court. I cannot express my comtempt for that decision adequately with any combination of expletives. Especially since the same party is willing to run a dead person in Hawaii, where their victory is more assured.
I recall another time when someone else believed their quest for Justice was above the written Law. That someone was Oliver North, who abrogated the written Law by funneling money for arms to help the Nicaraguan government fight against the (leftist) Sandinistas. The question of whether the Congress was right to restrain the President on this particular issue is immaterial. At issue was whether the President could exceed his just powers as delegated by the Constitution. And the answer is "no." Because the power of the President must be limited in order to protect the liberty of us all.
Similarly, the right to vote, and to have that vote respected, is fundamental to the protection of all our other rights. If the vote can be tampered with (as the Leftie Fundies attempted in Florida), or set aside (as the Leftie Fundies did to the primary vote in New Jersey), then we no longer have a voice in our government. The guarantee against such tampering is supposed to be the written Law regarding elections — for which the Leftie Fundies exhibit no respect when the Law favors someone else. In this, I label them tyrants, or more precisely, tyrant wannabes by rationalization.
Here then is the Leftie Fundies' deal: The rules don't count unless they favor the Leftie Fundies in their quest for power to take from the "haves" in order to maintain the "have not's" in permanent need of more taking from the "haves" so that the Liberals can feel better about themselves. The Leftie Fundie willingness to lie and cheat to sustain this destructive agenda has excited a backlash. The Leftie Fundies, by their excesses, have created such a deep spiritual hunger for an alternative viewpoint in the rest of the country, that it is almost as if they have inadvertently conjured Rush Limbaugh into existence.
Well, more power to ya, Rush. At first, I couldn't stand you. But after Bill Clinton and his apologists, I'm glad you're there. I oppose many of your views, and I don't like your style. But keep it up. When National Public Radio punches my buttons, I punch "AM," and turn to you.
- 10/20/02 A friend wrote: "You may be right about Liberals. The NBC affiliate in Milwaukee has just filmed Democratic campaign workers handing out small amounts of money and free food to residents at a home for the mentally ill in Kenosha after which the patients were shepherded into a separate room and given absentee ballots. One of the Democratic Party workers fled when she saw the NBC camera. The local district attorney is investigating." If I am wrong, I would like someone to explain to me how these folks can do what they do and still believe they're OK.
- 12/2/02 See "How I was Smeared," by Harry Stein for a first-person account of the "Politically Correct" lie factory in action.
- 12/8/02 For an alternative point of view see "Proud to be Liberal," by Brian Elroy McKinley.