Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Democrats: A Superior Claim to Rule

"Nietzsche--a man with a superiority complex if ever there was one--believed that all of Christianity was founded on a reverse superiority claim . . . exalting the poor and pitiable in order to destroy aristocratic civilization, ultimately replacing it with modern democracy and the equality of all mankind."

--Amy Chua and Jed Rubenfeld, The Triple Package (p. 182)

When I quoted the above passage earlier, something bothered me. How does one talk of superiority and equality in the same breath? And the answer bothers me even more: our intellectual elite has no problem linking equality and superiority. These elite preach equality--as in Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité--every day, the equality of results sought by leaders who seek power by using government to move toward equality as a distant goal, the "end of the rainbow" goal that's their communist-like nirvana (“to each, according to his needs”).  The end--never reached--justifies the means, eternal power.

The Leninist state--an autocratic elite ruling on behalf of the people--was modeled on Plato’s Republic, which also provided the structure of the Catholic Church’s hierarchy. So it’s not really surprising that liberal commentator Brent Budowsky, writing in the Hill, tells us:
Pope Francis [is] a voice for our generation and all generations who teaches, as all great faiths teach, that those who have the most should extend their hands to those who have the least and that those who have power should serve those who do not.
Pope Francis
Like the Church, like good Leninists, Budowsky believes in his heart that superior people should have the power to bring good to the less fortunate. And he’s delighted to find the head of the supposedly highly-illiberal Catholic Church thinking as a liberal Democrat.  Don't believe me?  Note that Budowsky goes on to say:
I would suggest the following: There is a Ready for Hillary movement, a Ready for Elizabeth [Warren] movement and, more profoundly, a Ready for Pope Francis movement that is American and global.
Linking Hillary, and Elizabeth--Democrats--to the Pope, a bond of superior people acting on behalf of the less fortunate.  It’s Budowsky's dream 2015 Democratic Party.

Wherever the Pope truly belongs, in America it's Democrats who control the intellectual high ground.  Here’s conservative Jonah Goldberg, in the National Review, explaining why when conservatives make mistakes it’s horrible, but not when similar mistakes come from liberals:
If you work from the dogmatic assumption that liberalism is morally infallible and that liberals are, by definition, pitted against sinister and — more importantly — powerful forces, then it’s easy to explain away what seem like double standards. Any lapse, error, or transgression by conservatives is evidence of their real nature, while similar lapses, errors, and transgressions by liberals are trivial when balanced against the fact that their hearts are in the right place.
Despite controlling the commanding heights of the culture — journalism, Hollywood, the arts, academia, and vast swaths of the corporate America they denounce — liberals have convinced themselves they are pitted against deeply entrenched powerful forces and that being a liberal is somehow brave.
And if you thought Democrats may in fact have to be brave, since they lost the midterm elections less than two months ago, you could be wrong. The president doesn’t seem to think he lost.

Conservative Byron York, in the Washington Examiner, reveals how the president plans to keep his grip on the nation’s agenda:
In his [just released] NPR interview, the president looked back on his unilateral actions of the past year and promised more. "I said at the beginning of this year that 2014 would be a breakthrough year," Obama said. "And it was. . .”
the standard for overriding a presidential veto — a two-thirds vote in House and Senate — could become the only limit Obama observes in the next couple of years. For example, Obama takes executive action X. Republican lawmakers, along with some moderate Democrats, oppose X. They pass a bill repealing X with a 60-vote, filibuster-proof majority in the Senate. Obama vetoes the bill, preserving his executive action. At that point, opponents would have to muster 67 votes to override the veto. That's a very, very tough hill to climb. As long as Obama can get 34 Democrats to support him in the Senate, his executive action will stand.
Another way of putting it is that Obama will be able to do anything at least 34 Senate Democrats will let him get away with.
In my view, Obama’s approach could be dangerous for his party. Once you set out to please the 34 most liberal Democrats, you can cost your party the next election. It happened before, in 1998-2000.

When Republicans used the 1998 Monica Lewinsky Scandal to threaten Bill Clinton with impeachment unless he resigned, Clinton instead fell back on the Constitution's requirement that in order to remove a president from office, 67 senators would have to convict him. Clinton understood he had only to keep the support of the 34 most liberal Democratic senators. So his politics played for the most liberal 34.

In the 2000 election, America was at peace, was prosperous, and the government was performing so well it recorded a surplus. The circumstances almost dictated that Clinton’s vice president, Al Gore, would be the next president. It didn’t happen because Clinton kept his scandal before voters for three whole years, which did cost Gore moderate votes. Clinton, instead of resigning in favor of Gore, relied on the support of his most liberal 34 senators to hang onto office.

I see the Democrats making a similar mistake under Obama. Conservative Robert Tracinski, writing in the “Federalist,” also believes Democrats are blinded to the dangers that lie ahead for them:
I don’t think the Democratic Party is really going to die quite yet[, for it] still enjoys so many reserves of support in the universities, in the media, and in the entertainment industry. It’s also because political parties have a tendency to eventually adapt and change the way they present themselves to voters (as Bill Clinton briefly did for Democrats in [1992-97]).
As for those reserves of support in big institutions, I suspect that the left has achieved such a high degree of saturation, particularly in Hollywood and the universities, that they have reached the point of diminishing returns. Any reversion to the mean—the current situation is by no means normal by historical standards—and the left risks losing these commanding heights of the culture.
It’s a lot harder to tack back to the center when all of your politicians represent urban, coastal districts with far-left constituents. Inside this far-left bubble, your rising political stars are rewarded for taking positions that antagonize the rest of the country while pandering to the sensibilities of the far left. . . by doubling down on contempt for the South and for traditional American values, Democrats accelerate the exodus of their old blue-collar base in the cities.
In any case, we know the left is still powerful in America today, and willing to use power to preserve its high standing.  As former liberal Walter Russell Mead reminds us in the American Interest:
liberals are struggling to come to grips with . . . the enormous gap between the dominant ideas and discourse in the liberal worlds of journalism, the foundations, and the academy on the one hand, and the wider realities of American life on the other. Within the magic circle, liberal ideas have never been more firmly entrenched and less contested. Increasingly, liberals live in a world in which certain ideas are becoming ever more axiomatic and unquestioned even if, outside the walls, those same ideas often seem outlandish.
Modern American liberalism does its best to suppress dissent and critique at the institutions and milieus that it controls. Dissent is not only misguided; it is morally wrong. Bad thoughts create bad actions, and so the heretics must be silenced or expelled. “Hurtful” speech is not allowed, and so the eccentricities of conventional liberal piety pile up into ever more improbable, ever more unsustainable forms.
To openly support “torture”, for example, is close to unthinkable in the academy or in the world of serious journalism. . . [But while t]he left silenced and banished critics; it didn’t convert or refute them.
Outside the “magic circle,” America looks more like the country that elected unprecedented numbers of Republicans in November.

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