Be sure to read Jonathan Chait’s “When Did Liberals Become So Unreasonable?” about how liberals began to dump President Obama even before he took office. But then after you’ve read that, read the Booman:
In the 1930’s and 1940’s, the liberal left was the intellectual soul of Democratic Party. It had to cobble together an uneasy coalition of socialists and Jim Crow Democrats and city bosses and ward heelers. But liberals were in charge of the big things, like implementing the New Deal, creating the United Nations, and setting up the Bretton Woods system. …
… But then came Vietnam. That stupid war destroyed the liberal consensus. It created a counterculture. And that counterculture is where liberal legitimacy went to die. You cannot be a governing philosophy at the same time that you are countercultural movement. A countercultural movement is set up to oppose power. It is a critique of a country, not a platform for governing a country. And that’s where the left has been stuck since about 1968. This is something distinct from Will Rogers’s old saw about “I’m not a member of any organized political party, I’m a Democrat!” This isn’t just about herding cats. It’s a fundamental flaw in the progressive predisposition.
Yes. Governing is about enacting what is possible. Franklin Roosevelt made very un-liberal deals with southern segregationists to get his legislation passed. Today’s Left went ballistic when Obama invited Evangelical pastor Rick Warren to speak at his inauguration.
I keep saying this, but President is the most progressive president since LBJ. What he’s enacted so far is much more liberal than anything the Clinton or Carter administrations even attempted. Chait documents this. Yet in liberal circles one is not allowed to point this out. It’s like everyone had an anti-Obama microchip planted in their brains.
Relating this to the OWS movement — one of my frustrations with the OWSers is that it is trying to be a popular-democratic movement and a counterculture at the same time, and I don’t think it can be both. I just read this on Salon:
The image of huge crowds of everyday people confronting legions of cops protecting the conclaves of the rich and powerful who run the world is more powerful than any words. It would draw the battle lines between the 99% and the 1% in the streets. And it is ultimately in the streets, not in meetings or conferences, where the political struggle will be played out as they have been from the French Revolution more than two centuries ago to the Egyptian Revolution today. Holding public space is key.
That’s fine, but I don’t think this lady, for example, is all that “everyday.”
You want the guy watching on television from Dubuque, Iowa, who is worried about his job and his debt load and doesn’t like his daughter’s boyfriend and goes to the Shiloh Baptist Church every Sunday to be able to relate to what you are doing. Maybe he has a lot of conservative social views, but he might still relate to economic injustice issues, if someone could make the effort to relate to him a little bit.
The counterculture should have been left in the 1960s.
Update: A writer in the Economist suggests that liberals are disappointed in Obama only because his campaign rhetoric set their expectations too high. That’s some of it, maybe, but it doesn’t account for the degree of Obama-hating on the Left. There is something much more pathological going on.