--Ron Christie, Daily Beast
"The measure of a person's character is found by looking at the difficulties they overcame, not by the difficulties for which they found excuses.”
--Reader’s comment on Christie article
Victimization has triumphed over self-reliance.
In our three-part look at liberals’ victory in the culture wars, we quoted Stanford Hoover Institution conservative Shelby Steele’s conclusion that “Liberals successfully smother conservatism by identifying it as another word for American evil. Tainting conservatism — its principles, policies, and personalities — with past American shames remains for liberals an ‘endless font of power.’”
The Republican disadvantage is that Democrats convincingly make a claim to be the party of greater human equality and compassion, making them the electoral scissors to the Republican paper. The claim of equality on the heartstrings of a democratic people is naturally stronger and resonates more than the claim of liberty. The democratic pitch — the promise of free stuff and fairness — is near impossible to beat head on, Voegeli’s advice is not to do so. Where liberalism is weak is with delivering the promised goods. This failure to deliver is the less fundamental, more effective route to check liberalism’s march.According to DesRosiers, Voegeli is applying leftist agitator Saul Alinsky’s rule for radicals by making the opposition live up to their own values. In that spirit, Voegeli suggests how liberalism’s high motives may mask a self-centered core:
compassion is a modern doctrine with a selfish-center. Christ didn’t coin the word compassion, Rousseau did, and it reflects an interest in the “sufferer for the love of myself.” The emphasis is on the “I” in “I feel your pain.” The bull card, when applied to the legacy of liberal compassion, has the capacity to decouple the “reactor core” of liberalism, the “alliance of experts and victims.”So finally, along with Voegeli’s dead-on reading of how liberals won the cultural high ground, a counterattack strategy emerges: make the battle about who achieves results.
Focusing on results, New York Times house conservative Ross Douthat wonders whether liberals or conservatives are more able to fix working-class family breakdown:
[is] the social crisis among America’s poor and working class — the collapse of the two-parent family, the weakening of communal ties —. . .best understood as a problem of economics or of culture[?]Liberals want government aid. Conservatives want individual responsibility.
[To the left,] it’s unchecked capitalism and Republican stinginess, not the sexual revolution, that has devastated working-class society over the last few decades. Fight poverty, redistribute wealth, and you’ll revive family and community — it’s as simple as that.I don’t think Douthat agrees:
In a substantially poorer American past with a much thinner safety net, lower-income Americans found a way to cultivate monogamy, fidelity, sobriety and thrift to an extent that they have not in our richer, higher-spending present.
The post-1960s . . . cultural earthquake that makes society dramatically more permissive and [that has created] dramatic social fragmentation among vulnerable populations [means] that [denying] any connection [between permissiveness and social fragmentation] looks a lot like denying the nose in front of your face.In the culture wars, liberals have won. They shouldn’t have. Time for a “mean-spirited diatribe,” in Voegeli’s words, focused on who actually delivers “the promised goods.”