by Barry Rubin
How ironic that liberals and Democrats who have no difficulty believing that Islam has been hijacked by extremists have no notion that they have been hijacked by the far left.
A coalition of 1960s’ New Leftists and what used to be called the party’s McGovernite wing has taken over using a brilliant strategy of propaganda and dissimulation. Ah, for the relatively good old days of Bill Clinton, a man who, for all his multiple faults, understood that he had to govern somewhere from within sight of the political center.
Why is it that while liberals/Democrats constantly claim the Republican Party has been taken over by its far right wing, many conservatives/Republicans constantly claim that Obama is a typical liberal/Democrat? Why don’t more critics of the current policies say instead that the Democratic Party has been taken over by its far left wing and no longer represents the worldview of mainstream Democratic voters and leaders of the past?
Instead, they play into the hands of the current government, helping it to mobilize support from Democrats and liberals by assuring them that the Obama administration is normative for liberals and Democrats rather than a radical deviation.
A question I ask my conservative and Republican friends is this: If Bill Clinton were still president you wouldn’t like it, but would you think that this is a disaster in which the country’s future was in jeopardy? If Hillary Clinton (or some other non-radical Democrat) were president, would you be so upset at what would be happening?
You might disagree but everyone I ask thinks a moment and says, “I see what you mean.”
Of course, since Obama is president and leader of the party, especially after he won election so handily, it is hard for Democratic politicians to disagree with him publicly. Yet what must they be saying in private? I think something like this: Am I going to allow this guy to destroy my career by making so many domestic mistakes that the economy will worsen even more and the people will vote against my reelection? Am I going to go along with a foreign policy that is producing a catastrophic decline in U.S. influence and victories for dangerous radical forces?
My estimate is that only about 25 percent of the Democrats in Congress are on the far left. The rest follow along because they are accepting the leadership of the president and of two truly terrible leaders in the House of Representatives and Senate, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid.
I am NOT arguing here about who the Republicans should nominate for president. I might be wrong, but every time I see Mitt Romney I imagine what a nice concession speech he would make after losing. But I am arguing about the need to unite all who can be united to understand the current ideological and policy mess in America.
Here are some questions that should be asked:
–Why should real traditional liberals and Democrats accept an economic policy that so distorted Keynesian economics, which never proposed ruinously unlimited debts based on totally unproductive spending?
–Why should real traditional liberals and Democrats support a suppression of free inquiry in schools and universities along with the substitution of indoctrination, an approach that totally contradicts everything liberals fought for during the last 150 years?
–Why should real traditional liberals and Democrats — especially in the foreign policy establishment — accept a policy that throws out the window every basic principle of international relations as practiced previously by all Democratic presidents (except the discredited Jimmy Carter)?
–Why should real traditional liberals and Democrats accept the takeover of their party by the far left and following a course that is so damaging to the United States and, ultimately, to their own party?
–Do Democrats and liberals, who have had such a role in shaping American history since around 1900, really want to adopt the view that America is evil, its history shameful, and that it deserves to decline?
–How has every government program, bureaucracy, and expenditure suddenly become sacred and cannot be cut in a time of spiralling deficits and an economy in deep Depression? Is it really so hard to admit that many government programs have either failed to do good or made things worse, thus deserving to be cancelled?
–Since when have Democrats and liberals rejected the free enterprise system? Reasonable controls, yes, but how does that mean support for strangling controls and punishing businesses?
–Does a reasonable concern for the environment mean preventing any serious development of America’s coal, gas, and oil resources? Democrats can claim rightly that they have greatly improved the environment over the situation decades ago when it was neglected. But having done so, why do demands for laws and regulations keep going further and further into the realm of insanity?
–Should liberals believe that America is still in the 1890s when giant corporations trampled on helpless workers, unions were weak or nonexistent, and big business dictated to government? Hasn’t America changed? Isn’t some balance needed today in order to let businesses function and create jobs?
–If you are really so horrified by the Tea Party movement then why don’t you deal with the problems of excessive spending, too much regulation, and high taxes yourselves? Is your answer to the current crisis really to propose even more spending, more regulation, and higher taxes? Can’t you admit at least to yourselves that your opponents have some valid points or do you want to spite them by making things worse?
The list is a lot longer. What’s needed today is a real battle within the Democratic Party and the real liberal intellectual circles against the left, just as there was in the 1930s on the domestic front and in the late 1940s on the foreign policy front.
Remember Harry Truman? The president who purged the U.S. government of Communist infiltrators and led the United States to play its proper role on the world stage and combat the Soviet bloc’s aggression? The president who successfully managed the post-World War Two economic transition and confronted trade unions when necessary?
In the 1948 election, real liberals and mainstream Democrats rallied around Truman. The racist right-wing of the party went with Strom Thurmond; the far left wing went with Henry Wallace in a party that was largely a Communist front. What was the name of that latter party? Oh yes, the Progressive Party! And what does the left wing that dominates the Democrats call themselves now, getting those with no sense of history to parrot that name? They ain’t talking about Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson.
If Democrats and liberals don’t revolt against left-wing domination, the voters will do it for them. And after the 2008 or 2012 elections, depending on whether Obama wins a second term, the Democratic Party is going to have to decide whether to remain permanently on the far left or to wake up and try to escape its captors.
Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center, editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal, and a featured columnist at PajamasMedia http://pajamasmedia.com/barryrubin/. His latest books are The Israel-Arab Reader (seventh edition), The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East (Wiley), and The Truth About Syria (Palgrave-Macmillan). The website of the GLORIA Center is http://www.gloria-center.org. His articles published originally in places other than PajamasMedia can be found at http://www.rubinreports.blogspot.com