4.11.04

ET VITAM VENTURI SAECULI. Blue was the color of the Union Army's uniforms, and blue the states that stayed in the Union and voted for Senator Kerry. Blue is also the mood of many Democratic court intellectuals, some of whom are now toying with secession. (Again there is more going on than I can keep up with. Sean at The American Mind also notes this idea in play.) Here is Swarthmore's very agitated Timothy Burke.

If Bush wins, so much the better for them. If Kerry wins, the Bush hardcore will immediately crank up the machinery of hatred and obstruction. Bush for them is only a symbol, a synecdoche of their larger social aspirations. Kerry, too, is only a placeholder. Behind Kerry are the real targets: all those who would vote for Kerry, the enemies in a barely-undeclared civil war.

There will be no peace on November 3rd. I have given up any hope of that, and with it, much of my desire to try and talk peaceably with people determined to choose ruin and incompetence, no matter how noble or ignoble their aims.

Nothing is really going to change in American life until the pressure we have relentlessly built up under the electoral surface blows catastrophically in some fashion. The election of either candidate will release almost none of that tension. It will now take enormous social trauma, political upheaval, bold leadership: some unforeseeable stroke of genius or idiocy, suffering or joy, to resolve the struggle into something else. Better or worse I cannot say, nor can I say when or what might blow the volcano. I only know that the pressure has risen to a point where an eruption seems inevitable.

Hmm, that sounds like a Fourth Turning ... Short of that, he suggests a compromise that (unwittingly?) echoes my suggestion that Libertarians get involved in Democratic politics.
I am seriously thinking of the following Great Compromise: a radical embrace of an extreme states’ rights position on all cultural and social issues. We would offer to abandon the argument that the federal government must enforce a singular position on abortion rights and any other similar issue.
Yes. How different might the past 50 years have been had the courts and the civil rights advocates used the power of the national government to limit the power of government. No restrictions on freedom of association means no polite fiction of separate but equal schools, and no laws compelling separate compartments on the trains or buses or separate drinking fountains. Somewhere, somehow, that movement mutated into one that used the power of the government to compel association, with the cumbersome protected-status law we have today.

In Medias Res is also agitated, but suggests Professor Burke get a grip.

I think the Bush-voters are wrong: wrong about the untrammeled market, wrong about the "ownership society," wrong that the environment can take care of itself, wrong about the role of the state, wrong about what is needed to make America responsible and admired in a world in need of our wealth and example. Moreover, I think they are deluding themselves if they don’t recognize that the man they elected, despite the few good things he’ll do, is very bad at carrying out even some of his best plans. But I don’t think Heartlandia is poisoned, and I don’t think the religion and way of life we embrace out here (metaphorically speaking, of course; we live in cities too) is so undeserving of respect and so incapable of grounding a government that could conduct the sort of careful, egalitarian interventions we ought to support. Of course there are theocrats around; some Southerners may not stop until Nathan Bedford Forrest occupies the White House. But some others--enough, again, to win a few states at least--just like knowing that the President of the United States won’t stop them from praying at high school football games. If the person who makes that promise speaks their language, knows where they’re coming from, and makes that knowledge part of their platform, then who knows what may open up. Probably not my longed-for Christian communitarian polity, that's for sure, but maybe a way to get enough of religious America on board a simple liberal egalitarian agenda so as to save what little social justice remains in our country. It might even avoid another Civil War. It’s worth thinking about, anyway.
Remember what Prime Minister Thatcher said of Mikhail Gorbachev: here is a man I can do business with. Remember, also, what General Secretary Gorbachev wanted to do was reform but preserve the simple Communist agenda. Party hardliners feared (correctly) that any reform might unravel the whole rotten structure. In like manner, the deepest fear of the so-called "Democratic wing" of the Democratic party, and of self-styled "progressives" is that free minds, free markets, and a state with enumerated, defined and limited powers might in fact WORK. Our wealth, and our example, is a daily reminder of the comparative ineffectiveness of the European welfare states on many things. Fine, let us work in good faith with the Democrats' court intellectuals, but let us remind them that they are losing the argument, both in the voting booths and with the evidence. As Chris Lawrence notes, some of the court intellectuals still hold too high an opinion of themselves. Orcinus is also not yet ready to hoist the bonnie blue flag.

The talk outside the school where I took my daughter this morning, a bastion of Kerry/Edwards supporters, was mostly bewilderment about where people in urban areas -- who overwhelmingly supported Kerry -- can go politically now. Here in the bubble of Seattle, the outlook was voiced by one father: "It's like we're an island now, cut off from the rest of the country. And we just have to go it on our own now."

Unfortunately, I think that's the problem. Urban liberals have been writing off their rural counterparts for too long. The larger the gap grows and festers, the more isolated they're doomed to become. Outreach, not withdrawal, is what is needed.

If progressives are serious about making a real effort at rebuilding their political machinery from the ground up, they need to start by going back to their rural roots. And it can't just be lip service.

Yes, but it helps to have something to beat something. Warmed-over resentment against achievement and wise-expert policymaking isn't going to do it. I'm getting a little fed up with the "we're smarter people" tone I'm reading from some of these Democratic loyalists. (And there are others sounding the same theme. Start surfing here or here or here.) If you're so smart, why aren't you rich?

Mungowitz End gets part of this, but not all of it. And Garry Wills, as Betsy's Page notes, has missed it.
Which raises the question: Can a people that believes more fervently in the Virgin Birth than in evolution still be called an Enlightened nation?
That may say more about Mr Wills and about the government schools than it says about the electorate. (What kind of a month is it going to be when Andrew Sullivan is one of the calmer voices on the topic?) Perhaps one ought to live among the people one dismisses?

SECOND SECTION: Armed Liberal has been thinking about these things as well.
The Democrats won't be a dominant party until they can align their message with the American people well enough that their leadership is safe running in Red states.

No comments: