I am and always have been a liberal. I was raised to revere the Democratic party and feel contempt for the party of Richard Nixon (as well as the man himself). Democrats, everyone agreed, were freer spirits. Uptight Republicans, everyone agreed, lighted cigars with hundred-dollar bills they’d stolen from poor people.
And so it was with a bunch of those likeminded everyones that I went to a college where the counterculture was the mainstream culture, at a time when not conforming to nonconformity was an unthinkable option.
For many people I knew back when and occasionally still see, hatred of conservatives remains an idée fixe, impervious to facts. These friends are sadly sure that I’ve changed (and fie on me for it). But as I point out, when you go bodysurfing in the ocean for an hour and find yourself a hundred yards up the beach, it’s not the people on the sand who moved. You did, without your knowing it, thanks to the tide.
A tide has inexorably drifted modern liberals away from the classical-liberal ideas of celebrating individual freedom and working to limit government’s intrusion into our lives. This is a sad irony whose consequences to the culture, via media and academia, are insidious.
Whether or not my age cohort admits it, Vietnam War protests weren’t really about the war itself—as was proved by what happened between January 1973, when American forces began departing Vietnam, and April 1975, when Saigon’s (ignominious) fall ended the war. What happened? Nothing. There wasn’t a single antiwar protest in this country.
The V-12 engine driving all those massive demonstrations in the prior years (I attended plenty) was the military draft—that is, governmentally sanctioned conscription. Legal kidnapping and torture, it was sometimes called.
Yet now, millions of those former flag-burning demonstrators want government in our light bulbs and (almost literally) worship a president who probably wouldn’t mind a bureaucratic nanny in every pot (but, haha, doesn’t support legalizing pot).
The best example I can offer to demonstrate this excruciating level of irony comes courtesy of a man I worked with recently on a project. He’s behind the scenes now, but once upon a time he was a stand-up comedian of rock-star status, his career built on some viciously funny putdowns of Nixon.
This man is, you will not be surprised to hear, Jewish (Jewish comedians?!) and liberal (liberal Jews?!). He also professes to adore Israel, where he once briefly lived as a teenager.
But when I noted that Israelis liked George W. Bush and dislike Obama, he changed the subject. When I raised Obama’s snubbing of Netanyahu, he changed the subject. When I opined that Obama’s proposal for negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians (that they should begin with the pre-1967 borders) had undermined any chance of peace, he changed the subject. And when I quipped that Obama was all teleprompter, no oratory, he winced and said that that was disrespectful. We haven’t spoken since Benghazi, but I’m certain he sees no evil.
And I’m the one who’s changed? Right.
If this coming election is about anything, it’s about the clash between modern liberalism and classical liberalism: more government versus less. So to those who proudly consider themselves liberal and progressive, and want to see the country become more of both, I have a few questions.
Actually, I have more than a few, but space is limited, so I’ll begin with these and hope for some genuine answers instead of the standard, “You’re a moron” responses that liberals usually heap on conservatives in the illiberal belief that their ideas need not be defended with logic and facts, just restated with a generous helping of insults.
2. What’s so enlightened about focusing more on the theoretical backlash against all Muslims for the violent acts committed by some Muslims than on the victims of that violence and on the animating philosophy behind the violence?
3. Is it okay with you that the press, which Thomas Jefferson considered more important than the government itself, has abdicated its traditional watchdog role in order to serve the agenda and reelection of Barack Obama?
4. How come so many people who risk their lives sneaking into this country illegally in order to escape some of worst hellholes on earth appear prouder of their homelands than many native-born Americans do of their country?
5. If Barack Obama is such a marvelous orator, how come his only memorable lines are gaffes?
6. Isn’t the stubborn refusal to accept that Obama is the emptiest suit chair ever to be president akin to Lois Lane’s being fooled by Clark Kent’s glasses.
8. What’s pro-choice about dismissing conservative women as inauthentic?
9. What’s progressive about liberal gays wishing death on conservative gays?
11. Can you define “fair share”? I keep hearing that rich people aren’t paying it, but if the top one percent already pays almost 40 percent and the bottom 50 percent pays nearly nothing, how much more do the rich have to pay before you’ll declare it fair?
12. The Benghazi cover-up aside, doesn’t it make you a little queasy that the President of the United States demonstrated such contempt for our First Amendment, first by (falsely) blaming worldwide violence on an American’s free expression, then by trying to get YouTube to take down the offending video, and third by telling his United Nations audience that the film was “blasphemy” against a religion?
13. Are you comfortable with that whole Obama cult of personality thing?