Category Archives: The Left

Illiberal Liberalism

The left’s disdain for ordinary Americans has deep historical roots.

by Bruce S. Thornton // Defining Ideas 

During the 2008 presidential campaign, Barack Obama let slip his disdain for the middle-class when he explained his lack of traction among such voters. “It’s not surprising then,” Obama said, “that they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade482px-Presidentwoodrowwilson sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.” More recently, U.S. Senate candidate Bruce Braley mocked his opponent incumbent Chuck Grassley as “a farmer from Iowa who never went to law school.” The liberal disdain for ordinary Americans has been around for a long time. Beneath the populist rhetoric and concern for the middle class that lace the campaign speeches of most liberal politicians, there lurks a palpable disgust, and often contempt, for the denizens of “flyover country,” that land of God, guns, religion, and traditional beliefs.

In Revolt Against the Masses, the Manhattan Institute senior fellow and New York Post columnist Fred Siegel presents a clearly written and engaging historical narrative of how nearly a century ago this strain of illiberal liberalism began to take over the Democratic Party. Along the way he also provides an excellent political history of the period that illuminates the “ugly blend of sanctimony, self-interest, and social-connections” lying at the heart of liberalism today.

Siegel begins with a valuable survey of the “progenitors,” the early twentieth-century thinkers and writers whose ideas shaped the liberal ideology. Those who know English writer H. G. Wells only as an early pioneer of science-fiction novels Read more →

Liberals and Their Uppity Enemies

by Victor Davis Hanson // PJ Media 

Why do liberals hate Sarah Palin? She has made far fewer gaffes than has Joe

Gage Skidmore via Flickr

Gage Skidmore via Flickr

Biden, whose verbal mishaps have often been racist in nature. Is dropping your g’s worse than saying “corpse-men“? She does not believe that Canadians speak Canadian in the way the president thinks Austrians speak Austrian. Her life story is inspirational — working mom, without inherited privilege or capital, a successful pre-2008 tenure as an Alaska politician.

I think the animus — as opposed to just disagreement with her views — derives in part from the fact that she is vivacious and attractive in a fresh Sally Field sort of way, unlike the cheek-boned refinement of an Audrey Hepburn or Jackie Onassis. Or is it because her diction, syntax, and grammar (especially the use of the passive voice) resonate slightly lower middle-class America? She is what white grandees with real white privilege castigate as a beneficiary of white privilege that she never really had. Read more →

Fat Cats and Democrats

by Bruce S. Thornton // FrontPage Magazine 

The progressive mind functions by means of mythic narratives that have tenuous

Minnesota Historical Society

Minnesota Historical Society

connections to reality. Cops shoot a black man, and Eugene Robinson of The Washington Post begs “please don’t shoot me,” indulging the myth of a lethal American racism endangering black people’s lives, even though black offenders kill 90% of black murder victims, and 85% of interracial crime is perpetuated by blacks against whites. Criticize Sandra Fluke for demanding that a Catholic university’s health care plan subsidize her birth control, and you’re waging a sexist “war on women” for making them pay a whole $30 for their monthly pills. Another particularly persistent and long-lived political folk tale is that conservatives and Republicans are the party of robber barons who use their exorbitant wealth to undermine democracy for their own nefarious ends. Read more →

Fight the Next War, Not the Last One

by Bruce S. Thornton // FrontPage Magazine 

Tuesday night President Obama will deliver another campaign speech, this one marketed as the State of the Union address. As such, we can expect to hear, through the usual white noise of “I,” “me,” and “my,” vacuous bromides like “moving America forward,” and empty promises “to grow the economy, strengthen the middle class, and empower all who hope to join it,” as White House flack Dan Pfeiffer said. So after token references to economic growth, we can expect to be served heaping helpings of “income inequality” and “economic mobility,” the redistributionist chum for his hungry progressive base. Read more →

Intelligent Populism vs. Mindless Progressivism

by Victor Davis Hanson // PJ Media 

New Deal Liberals Transform into the Faux Populist Radical Left

Ronald Searle’s Big Fat Cat Book via Flickr

With elections looming in 2014, it is about time for Barack Obama to gear up another progressive “war” against the rich, the limb loppers, the fat cats, the tonsil pullers, the “enemies” of Latinos, the jet junketers, the women haters, and those who knew neither when to stop profiting nor how the government had really built their businesses. We shall shortly witness some of the wealthiest and most privileged of capitalist America decrying inequality and unfairness from the 18th hole in Hawaii, the Malibu gated estate, and the Beacon Hill mansion. And the faux populism will probably work, at least if 2008 and 2012 are any indications.

It is easy to chart the evolution of the wealthy progressive elite from the occasional limousine liberal of the 1950s and 1960s to the now dominant hierarchy of the Democratic Party.

The traditional Democratic boilerplate that I grew up with (as much as a ten year old can notice much of anything in 1963) — minimum wage, 40-hour work week, overtime pay, disability insurance, fair housing, civil rights, assistance for the needy Read more →

The Year of the Dud

Obama, and left-wing causes, had a bad 2013.

by Victor Davis Hanson // National Review Online 

Lots of things that should have happened in 2013 did not.

We were supposed to have long ago reached “peak oil” and an age of always-higher gas prices. Wind and solar power — and a reduced lifestyle — were our dismal future. Read more →

The Progressive Reality Is Here

by Bruce S. Thornton // FrontPage Magazine 

The Republicans are feeling confident these days. The slow-motion debacle of Obamacare promises to keep that albatross around the necks of the Democrats at least through next year’s midterm elections. The IRS, NSA, and Benghazi scandals are still simmering, and any day new information may emerge that puts them back on the front page. Obama’s disapproval rating is at 53.4%, according to the RealClearPoliticsaverage of 11 polls. The Republican Party’s approval numbers are still lower than Democrats’, but they are trending up while the Dems are moving down. Read more →

Obama and the Suspension of Disbelief

by Victor Davis Hanson // PJ Media 

Adding straws of scandal — Fast and Furious, the Associated Press monitoring, the IRS fiasco, and the NSA spying — on any presidential back except Barack Obama’s would have long ago broken it. Watergate ruined Richard Nixon. Iran-Contra earned a special prosecutor and nearly destroyed the Reagan second term. Katrina’s incompetent local and state reactions, coupled with a tardy federal effort — and the insurgency in postwar Iraq — ended the viability of George W. Bush in his second term. Read more →

Facts, Democrats and the JFK Legend

by Bruce S. Thornton // FrontPage Magazine 

The mythologizing of John F. Kennedy in the 50 years since his death has verified the adage in John Ford’s The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance: “When the legend becomes fact, print the legend.” The JFK legend recycled all these years is of a liberal icon, the glamorous martyr470px-John_F._Kennedy,_White_House_photo_portrait,_looking_up whose violent death has validated and sanctified big government, redistributive economic polices, and quasi-pacifist internationalism. The facts, however, belie this myth, which also obscures the true significance of JFK’s brief administration.

In reality, Kennedy was not a liberal in today’s sense of the word, but a conservative Democrat, a Cold-War warrior and tax-cutter, as documented by Ira Stoll in JFK, Conservative. Far from the civil rights saint portrayed in the legend, his support for civil rights legislation was lukewarm, driven by the momentum for desegregation started before him by Truman’s desegregation of the armed forces, and codified by Eisenhower in the 1957 and 1960 Civil Rights acts, the first civil rights legislation since 1875. In fact, Kennedy believed that over-hasty progress on civil rights would alienate the conservative Southern wing of the Democrats. That’s why he advised Martin Luther King against his groundbreaking March on Washington in August of 1963, and put little effort into passing additional civil rights legislation. Read more →

Obama’s Fallout for the Left

He will not be harmed by his “misspeaking,” but his fellow liberals will.

by Victor Davis Hanson // National Review Online 

Conservatives keep blaring, “Obama lied!” over the president’s serial untruths about the Affordable Care Act. Even liberal pundits now talk of the president’s “misspeaking,” or even of his “misleading” statements and only so-so corrections.

But so what?Photo Credit: Bob B. Brown via Flickr

Obama is an iconic figure who will survive even the latest scandal of flatly misleading the American people, just as he was not harmed much by being less than honest about Benghazi, the AP monitoring, and the IRS and NSA scandals.

Obama has proved disingenuous, without suffering many consequences, for much of his tenure — raising taxes when he said he would not; vastly increasing the national debt when he said he would cut the deficit in half by the end of his first term; promising lower unemployment when in fact he has presided over a jobless rate of 7 percent or more for every month of his administration; bragging about new gas and oil production, which actually came on private land despite, not because of, his efforts; claiming credit for reducing a deficit that fell only because of the sequestration that he fought, and only because his previous deficits were so staggering that they were not sustainable.

Yet if public reactions to these past scandals are any benchmark, Obama will survive the Obamacare fiasco as well. In two or three months, he will no doubt return to a near-50-percent approval rating in the polls. Almost half of America is invested in his landmark personal profile, or welcomes the vast increase in federal redistributive payouts and equates it with the Obama ideology and presidency. The media saw Obama the icon as reaffirmation of their own guilt-free liberalism and therefore became deductive rather than empirical. Read more →