Posted: 11/4/2009 8:55:01 AM EDT
Nothing really new here I guess, interesting read though
Obama and the Liberal Paradigm
The sheep are quite capable of looking out for themselves. Someone tell the Democrats.
By JOHN STEELE GORDON
Valerie Jarrett, senior adviser to President Barack Obama, recently explained the White House war on Fox News as an example of "speaking truth to power." Much of the American political world collapsed in laughter, pointing out that her boss was president of the United States, the most powerful man on earth. His every word is news around the world. Fox News is a cable channel rarely watched by more than a few million people at a time. How could she have so blithely said something completely out-of-sync with reality?
Simple: She's a liberal.
As a liberal she carries around in her head the liberal paradigm of how the world works and what needs to be done to make it work better. There's nothing wrong with that. We all use paradigms to make sense of what we see around us and couldn't get along without them. Unfortunately, the basic liberal paradigm hasn't shifted in a hundred years, while the world we live in has changed utterly since the late 19th century, when modern liberalism was born.
What is that paradigm? The basic premise is that the population is divided into three groups. By far the largest group consists of ordinary people. They are good, God fearing and hard working. But they are also often ignorant of their true self-interest ("What's the matter with Kansas?") and thus easily misled. They are also politically weak and thus need to be protected from the second group, which is politically strong.
The second group, far smaller, are the affluent, successful businessmen, corporate executives and financiers. Capitalists in other words. They are the establishment and it is the establishment that, by definition, runs the country. They are, in the liberal paradigm, smart, ruthless and totally self-interested. They care only about personal gain.
And then there is the third group, those few, those happy few, that band of brothers, the educated and enlightened liberals, who understand what is really going on and want to help the members of the first group to live a better and more satisfying life. Unlike the establishment, which supposedly cares only for itself, liberals supposedly care for society as a whole and have no personal self-interest.
Thus the liberal paradigm divides the American body politic into sheep, wolves, and would-be shepherds. The shepherds must defeat the efforts of the wolves.
This paradigm, while never wholly accurate and, of course, always self-serving (as political philosophies tend to be), had a basis in reality in the late 19th century. Then, industrial capitalism was being born and the rules needed to ensure that it worked for all, not just the capitalists, were only beginning to evolve.
A few lived at an incredible level of affluence, such as can be seen in the summer "cottages" in Newport, R.I., and had disproportionate influence with government. In 1900 one-third of the Senate were millionaires at a time when a million dollars made you very, very rich. But millions of Americans lived in abject poverty, toiling long, dangerous hours as industrial workers or as sharecroppers in the impoverished South. These millions were indeed ignorant and weak.
Even as late as 1937, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, in his great second inaugural address, could quite accurately note the fact that he could "see one-third of a nation ill-housed, ill-clad, ill-nourished."
But by that time, liberals had stormed—and taken—the citadel of power. Between 1896 and 1932, the Republicans had been the majority party in this country and the conservatism of that day the ruling doctrine. Then, in 1932, Democrats swept into control of both Congress and the White House. They were now the establishment, as liberalism became the dominant American political philosophy, a status it kept for more than 40 years.
A liberal revolution from the top began as the New Deal created a safety net for American families and reformed the banking and financial systems by greatly enlarging the government and what it regulated. At the end of World War II, college education became far more affordable, thanks to the GI Bill and other measures. The GI Bill also fostered home ownership, which for the first time became the norm among nonfarm families, giving them significant wealth. The sheep were becoming capitalists too.
Between 1947 and the mid-1960s, the civil-rights movement overturned centuries of racial discrimination and greatly narrowed the gap between American claims of liberty and equality and American reality.
By the 1970s, the percentage of Americans living in poverty had been greatly reduced and those still below the poverty line were receiving assistance such as food stamps, housing assistance, and refundable tax credits that lifted most of them above the line. Race was no longer a barrier to accomplishment. The majority of American families now lived at a level of affluence and financial security known only to a few in the early 20th century.
The liberal revolution of the middle third of that century was, in short, one of the greatest—and most peaceful—political triumphs in history. And because of it, most of the sheep are now more than able to look out for themselves, having the means and education to do so. The wolves have been fitted for electric collars that largely keep them from straying into the wrong fold.
Now if only someone would tell the shepherds about their own success.
Ms. Jarrett still sees herself and her political allies as being on the outside, speaking truth to power, even when speaking from the Oval Office. The Congressional Black Caucus still routinely sees a pervasive racism, even though both the president of the United States and the chairman of the Republican National Committee are black. The rich are still looked upon by liberals as enemies of the poor and disadvantaged, even though Mr. Obama not only carried a majority of voters earning less than $50,000 but also a majority of those earning over $200,000. He did, in other words, as well among the wolves as he did among the sheep.
Not only does the liberal paradigm not even come close to agreeing with the social and economic reality on the ground today, worse, it has largely congealed into a political religion, especially in the nearly 30 years since Ronald Reagan shifted the nation's political center of gravity, just as FDR had done 48 years earlier. Since liberals care about the sheep, all who disagree with liberalism must not, making them morally inferior if not downright immoral. Thus the nastiness in American politics is largely on the left. Whatever you think of Sarah Palin, her treatment in the liberal press was ugliness personified.
The conservatives of today bear little resemblance to those of the 1930s that cartoonist Peter Arno immortalized heading down to Manhattan's Trans-Lux theater to hiss newsreels of FDR. They are instead abubble with ideas to reform aspects of American politics and economics that badly need reform, such as the tax and legal systems, and the impending entitlements crisis. They want to utilize the great power of markets to force efficiency, drive down costs, and drive up yields. But liberals refuse to engage those ideas, simply because they are not liberal ideas and must, therefore, be wrong if not the latest plot by the wolves to exploit the sheep.
But in a world where a majority of Americans work at white-collar jobs, have high-school and college degrees, own their own homes, and hold financial securities in their own right, the so-called wolves are now a majority. If liberals don't begin to take that fact into account in formulating policy, the Obama administration will not only be an unsuccessful liberal administration, it may well be the last liberal administration.
Sign up for the ARFCOM weekly newsletter and be entered to win a free ARFCOM membership. One new winner* is announced every week!
You will receive an email every Friday morning featuring the latest chatter from the hottest topics, breaking news surrounding legislation, as well as exclusive deals only available to ARFCOM email subscribers.