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RPGWatch Forums » General Forums » Politics & Religion » Have The Liberals Aready Won?

Default Have The Liberals Aready Won?

June 10th, 2008, 07:16
Forgive the extra long post, but I just came upon an interesting article/wild leftie rant by Michael Lind at Salon.com, stating "No matter who prevails at the ballot box in November, John McCain or Barack Obama, the four-decade-long conservative counterrevolution is over." It's definitely on the rhetorically inflammatory side, but it's not my intent to flame our residents on the right—just thought it made some, shall we say, *controversial* arguments worthy of a thought or two.
You can read it in its entirety here, and I'll quote some of the ideas that got my attention:

Three great accomplishments defined midcentury American liberalism: liberal internationalism, middle-class entitlements like Social Security and Medicare, and liberal individualism in civil rights and the culture at large. For four decades, from 1968 to 2008, the counterrevolutionaries of the right waged war against the New Deal, liberal internationalism, and moral and cultural liberalism. They sought to abolish middle-class entitlements like Social Security and Medicare, to replace treaties and collective security with scorn for international law and U.S. global hegemony, and to reverse the trends toward individualism, secularism and pluralism in American culture.

And they failed. On every front conservatives have failed, completely, undeniably and irreversibly. The failure of the right has left the structure of 20th-century American liberalism standing, battered and cratered but still intact….
(You'll have to drill into the piece for his proofs as they are even longer than I'm willing to quote.)
Here's a bit of economic fare:

Beginning in the 1970s, conservative and libertarian think tanks like the Heritage Foundation and the Cato Institute devised "free market" alternatives to the American welfare state established by New Deal and Great Society liberals. These schemes were worthy of Rube Goldberg in their insane complexity. Social Security would be abolished and replaced by private savings accounts. Medicare would be abolished and replaced by health savings accounts. Unemployment insurance would be abolished and replaced by … you guessed it, savings accounts…

This is why the destruction of Social Security — the crown jewel of the New Deal welfare state — was of such symbolic importance to the right. If Social Security could be whittled away by partial privatization and ultimately destroyed, then abolishing the rest of the modern liberal state would be a mere mopping-up operation…

.. While most are motivated by ideological hatred of government, the smartest enemies of the middle-class welfare state have learned to disguise their radical ideology and pose as neutral experts concerned that middle-class entitlements will bankrupt the country…
Then we come to foreign policy:

The counterrevolution of the right against liberal internationalism failed around the same time, early in George W. Bush's second term. In Bush's first term, the neoconservatives, whose influence had been limited in the Reagan years, called the shots. They rejected international law as a trap and argued that only an American monopoly of brute power, not great power cooperation, could achieve peace. The theory of conservative lawyers is simple: If the United States does it, it's legal, and if the president does it, it's constitutional…

Once again, the American people said no to the counterrevolution of the radical right. In the midterm elections of 2006, the voters tossed the Republican Party out of control of both houses of Congress. Since then, the remaining neocons in the administration have been purged or marginalized, and Defense Secretary Robert Gates, a pragmatic "paleoconservative" internationalist like Bush's father and James Baker, arrived to act as trustee in bankruptcy for the son's failed administration…
And with trumpets sounding, the somewhat (to my mind) premature celebratory conclusion:

…The counterrevolution is over. For 40 years the radical right has sought to uproot and overturn the American domestic and global order created by centrist liberals of both parties between the 1930s and the 1970s. Liberalism has survived, while the right is not only defeated but also demoralized, dispersed and diminishing.
While as a commie hippy flower child I would like to believe at least some of this, I think we need to actually have the election before deciding that McCain is just as much a vindication of liberalism as his Dem counterpart, myself.

So anyone see any truth in any of this, or is it all just a delusional victory lap from the suddenly hopeful left?

Where there's smoke, there's mirrors.
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June 10th, 2008, 08:13
I'd chalk it up as a delusional victory lap, or at least wishful thinking.

Liberalism may not have won, but Conservatism has certainly lost. It lost when Bill Clinton was elected. George Bush Sr. was the last serious top-tier conservative politician in the US. (Ronald Reagan wasn't, by the way.) George W. Bush has zip to do with conservatism; he's a radical, ideological revolutionary.

There are still conservatives in the US, to be sure, but they're few in number, bitter, old, and clustered around Buchanan's rag, The American Conservative. I can't see any signs of a serious conservative revival either. (No, McCain ain't it — he's cut from very much the same wood as the revolutionary clique who got into power with GWB.)

The thing is, ideologies don't really exist in America anymore. They've devolved into identity politics on the one hand ("I vote for McCain because I'm a Republican/I vote for Obama because I'm black") and simplistic sloganeering on the other ("The Wisdom Of The Market! Commies! Corporate Lackeys! Islamofascists! Change We Can Believe In!"). If anyone actually tries to formulate a coherent political ideology that's nuanced enough to be relevant to the real world, they'll immediately get stomped as wine-sipping, cheese-eating, Euro-loving, pseudo-intellectual girly-men (or, post-"I've-got-bigger-rocks-than-any-war-veteran"-Hillary, girly-girls).
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June 10th, 2008, 14:43
Aw, hush, ya wine-sipping, cheese-eating, Euro-loving, pseudo-intellectual girly man.

Although Hillary's party-cide has made it a much closer contest, this election (like every one for years) is going to boil down to the public's (un)happiness with the status quo. The economy is in the process of tanking and the bungling of Iraq is undeniable. As much as I hate to agree with PJ, ideology isn't much of a factor these days. Politicians on both sides of the aisle have learned the Clinton Poll Ride (and I can't really say he created it so much as perfected it) so rigid stances are pretty hard to find any more. Elections these days are really referendums based on immediate condition, more than endorsements of long term vision. Don't like where you're at? Hand the keys to the other guys. Doesn't matter where we're going as long as the new drivers don't stay "here".

Even hard cases like me are stuck with voting for policy tendencies, since neither party really stands solid on any issues.

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June 10th, 2008, 16:53
Have to agree with you both on the "beauty contest"/'gut feeling'/identity politics thing. In order to be elected, as the article points out, each candidate has to move toward the center to get the most votes, assuming that those who are actually backing them for their platforms, such as they are, will recognize the harsh realities of what's involved in 'winning.'

I do think ideology is some sort of factor—unfortunately it seems to be at the flag lapel pin/3rd Bush term level. That is, that any real differences between the two candidates and parties have to be boiled down to the simplest forms and the starkest, if most hollow, contrasts.

After I posted this, I went back and read a bit about the author, who's stated as having gone from "liberal to neoconservative to radical centrist ", and back to a liberal", and the 'think tank' he works for, the New America Foundation. Here's the wiki:

"The New America Foundation is a non-profit public policy institute and think tank located in Washington, D.C. that promotes innovative political solutions transcending conventional party lines—what they call radical centrist politics. "

So far from being a piece by someone of clear cut beliefs, it's basically just a snapshot from a conflicted intellectual backed by a group who seems to want to encourage political diversity for no clear cut purpose…or are they desirous of becoming shadowy overlords who influence blocks of voters with media rhetoric? Hard to tell, but also, hard to take these conclusions seriously, however much I would like to believe that the citizen-rulers of this democracy are aware enough to make informed ideological choices.

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June 10th, 2008, 23:44
All political parties everywhere, with a serious intent on gaining power have become centrist; all things to all people. They have to if they're going to appeal to the most voters. There's really very little actual difference between our two parties; they both steal each others policies where possible. Here we got a new gov't mainly because people were tired of the old one after 11 years and decided it was time for a change. Our economy was good, unemployment low, etc, but people wanted to see if a new guy could get them more. The minor, narrowly focused parties don't do very well in elections here anymore and I suspect it's the same everywhere.

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June 11th, 2008, 17:57
The minor, narrowly focused parties don't do very well in elections here anymore and I suspect it's the same everywhere.
It will be interesting to see how our splinter candidates affect the election this year. In the past both Ross Perot and Ralph Nader have had an impact as 'spoliers' by claiming disaffected voters who might otherwise have supported a losing mainstream candidate. This year we have three of them(4 if Hillary were insane enough to run as an Independent as some of her followers are still urging—fortunately that's logistically improbable if not impossible at this point).

You've got the perennial Nader, to attract the maverick liberals(polling at 6% last I looked,) Ron Paul, with a sizable base of conservative Libertarian/Republicans and Bob Barr, the official candidate for the Libertarian party to suck off a few more independents on the conservative end of the spectrum. Could add a bit of spice to the mix.

Where there's smoke, there's mirrors.
Last edited by magerette; June 12th, 2008 at 16:46. Reason: sp
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June 11th, 2008, 18:22
Although I was happy to cast my ballot for (Crazy as) H Ross back in the day, it did end up putting Willie in office. Nader certainly helped us back into office a few years later, though. Seems to me that in this election the major fringe candidates (Nader and Paul) will largely cancel out.

Now, the real question is who's running for the American Nudist Party this time around. Never let it be said that I don't support a woman's candidacy…

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June 11th, 2008, 18:29
Don't anyone mention that idea to Paris, Britney or god forbid Madonna.*shudder—armpits from hell*
Personally, I believe a man would be most qualified for that position. Unfortunately Sean Bean and Jean Claude are getting a bit long in the tooth, not to mention they're furriners.

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June 12th, 2008, 10:33
Originally Posted by Corwin View Post
Here we got a new gov't mainly because people were tired of the old one after 11 years and decided it was time for a change. Our economy was good, unemployment low, etc, but people wanted to see if a new guy could get them more.
Thats an interesting reading - looking at the election I don't think I'd be the only one to have seen it as a largely straight up old style left-right tussle over labour laws.
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