Sunday, May 26, 2013

National Elite Hanging On

The Wall Street Journal’s James Taranto drives home differently, better, several points I’ve tried to make over the years. In a few paragraphs, he ties together Democrats’ occupying the high moral ground, their related capture of the elite, and the “end justifies the means” politics the elite have developed since. Taranto:
The administrative state [is] in thrall to a decadent cultural elite. . .
Watergate helped bring about the current crisis of authority. It oversimplifies matters only slightly to say the liberal left owes its cultural authority to three events in the 1960s and 1970s. The culmination of the civil-rights movement in 1964-65 established its moral authority. The antiwar movement's success at securing defeat in Vietnam established its political authority. Watergate discredited the Republican Party. (It also made heroes of journalists and provided impetus for restricting the political speech of those who are not media professionals.)
The political result of all this was . . . polarization. The ascendant left became dominant in the Democratic Party, driving conservatives into the Republican camp, which in turn encouraged liberal Republicans to become Democrats. The cultural result--the effect on journalistic, educational, charitable and scientific institutions--was both polarization and left-wing domination.
The left, certain of its moral authority, felt entitled to rule. . . Moral authority entails a moral hazard: the temptation to abuse political and cultural power. Today's liberal left conceives of itself as being on the side of all that is good, right and reasonable. It caricatures the right as racist, extremist, greedy, dishonest, fanatically religious, prone to violence--and dangerous because, through the Republican Party, it has maintained parity in the political arena. Of the 10 presidential elections since Watergate, each party won 5; and voters haven't entrusted the Democrats with full control of government for more than two years since the Carter era.
If ordinary politics are a battle between good and evil, then winning becomes an overriding moral imperative. The end justifies the means: Journalists shade or conceal the truth in the service of a "larger truth." Government restricts political speech in the name of promoting democracy. Administrative agencies perpetrate injustice in the name of "social justice." That's how IRS agents could think it was their patriotic duty to help fix an election for the party in power.

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