Carrying the theme of several posts on these pages, John Leo -- contributing editor at US News & World Report -- says voters are increasingly wary of Seinfeld-style politics, inspired by nothingness:
[T]he cultural liberalism that emerged from the convulsions of the 1960s drove the liberal faith out of the mainstream. Its fundamental value is that society should have no fundamental values, except for a pervasive relativism that sees all values as equal. Part of the package was a militant secularism, pitched against religion, the chief source of fundamental values. Complaints about "imposing" values were also popular then, aimed at teachers and parents who worked to socialize children.This dovetails with a must-read essay, mentioned earlier, from SF Bay area resident Cinnamon Stillwell:
Modern liberalism, says Harvard political philosopher Michael Sandel, has emptied the national narrative of its civic resources, putting religion outside the public square and creating a value-neutral "procedural republic." One of the old heroes of liberalism, John Dewey, said in 1897 that the practical problem of modern society is the maintenance of the spiritual values of civilization. Not much room in liberal thought for that now, or for what another liberal icon, Walter Lippmann, called the "public philosophy." The failure to perceive the importance of community has seriously wounded liberalism and undermined its core principles. So has the strong tendency to convert moral and social questions into issues of individual rights, usually constructed and then massaged by judges to place them beyond the reach of majorities and the normal democratic process. . . .
Liberals have been slow to grasp the mainstream reaction to the no-values culture, chalking it up to Karl Rove, sinister fundamentalists, racism, or the stupidity of the American voter. Since November 2, the withering contempt of liberals for ordinary Americans has been astonishing. Voting for Bush gave "quite average Americans a chance to feel superior," said Andrew Hacker, a prominent liberal professor at Queens College. We are seeing the bitterness of elites who wish to lead, confronted by multitudes who do not wish to follow. Liberals might one day conclude that while most Americans value autonomy, they do not want a procedural republic in which patriotism, religion, socialization, and traditional values are politically declared out of bounds. Many Americans notice that liberalism nowadays lacks a vocabulary of right and wrong, declines to discuss virtue except in snickering terms, and seems increasingly hostile to prevailing moral sentiments.
Having been indoctrinated in the postcolonialist, self-loathing school of multiculturalism, I thought America was the root of all evil in the world. Its democratic form of government and capitalist economic system was nothing more than a machine in which citizens were forced to be cogs. I put aside the nagging question of why so many people all over the world risk their lives to come to the United States. Freedom of speech, religious freedom, women's rights, gay rights (yes, even without same-sex marriage), social and economic mobility, relative racial harmony and democracy itself were all taken for granted in my narrow, insulated world view.
So, what happened to change all that? In a nutshell, 9/11. The terrorist attacks on this country were not only an act of war but also a crime against humanity. It seemed glaringly obvious to me at the time, and it still does today. But the reaction of my former comrades on the left bespoke a different perspective. The day after the attacks, I dragged myself into work, still in a state of shock, and the first thing I heard was one of my co-workers bellowing triumphantly, "Bush got his war!" There was little sympathy for the victims of this horrific attack, only an irrational hatred for their own country.
As I spent months grieving the losses, others around me wrapped themselves in the comfortable shell of cynicism and acted as if nothing had changed. I soon began to recognize in them an inability to view America or its people as victims, born of years of indoctrination in which we were always presented as the bad guys.
Never mind that every country in the world acts in its own self-interest, forms alliances with unsavory countries -- some of which change later -- and are forced to act militarily at times. America was singled out as the sole guilty party on the globe. I, on the other hand, for the first time in my life, had come to truly appreciate my country and all that it encompassed, as well as the bravery and sacrifices of those who fight to protect it.
[W]hen it came time, it turned out that the left was mostly opposed to such liberation, whether of the Afghan people or of the Iraqis (especially if America and a Republican president were at the helm). Indeed, liberals had become strangely conservative in their fierce attachment to the status quo. In contrast, the much-maligned neoconservatives (among whose ranks I count myself) and Bush had become the "radicals," bringing freedom and democracy to the despotic Middle East. Is it any wonder that in such a topsy-turvy world, I found myself in agreement with those I'd formerly denounced?
Each author hints Democrats peaked in the 60s, when they traded broad-spectrum coalitions and the traditional popular vote for judicially imposed group rights. The liberals were fueled by imported French colonial guilt -- produced at Les Deux Maggots -- which somehow convinced them America, toujours L'Amérique, is to blame. Such European 'unholy water' washed away Kennedy-esk liberal internationalism, opening the door to today's pessimistic pacifistic policies.
Four decades after drinking the post-Modern Cool-Aid, Democrats have forgotten opposition must be backed by armed force, not puppets. So most Dems now oppose any American war, while simultaneously rooting for America's enemies and hating our military.
True, the Democrat "stasis" policy is cheap. But the real price would be genocide abroad (remember Sudan, Rwanda?) and more terrorism murders here. Seinfeld's nothingness is funny for a half hour. But he'd make a lousy President. So stay away from the I-will-do-nothing Dems--until they call for re-write.