Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Terribly Smart People

Here we go again. Here’s another Terribly Smart Person lecturing about how Obama should be careful how he spends his political capital--or if he even has any. Michael Gerson in the WashPost tells us:

“Obama's election was a tremendous, historic achievement, but it was not an ideological revolution.”

Oh, how badly these guys want things to stay the same. Despite Gerson’s acknowledgment that Obama put together an impressive coalition including independents, low-income people, the affluent, Catholics, and suburbanites--and, not incidentally, in the process won 54 percent of the popular vote--Gerson still thinks there is somehow NOT a tectonic shift happening around him. He goes on to cite the same statistics Bill Kristol used in the article I cited yesterday:

“In the 2004 election, according to the Associated Press, 21 percent of Americans called themselves liberal, 45 percent moderate and 34 percent conservative. In this election, 22 percent described themselves as liberal, 44 percent as moderate and 34 percent as conservative.”

But here’s the problem with the assessment. What it doesn’t take into account is the relentless demonization of the term ‘liberal’ over the past 20 years or so.

Now, personally, I am proud to be one of the filthy librul, hedonistic, elitist, godless, baby-killing horde. I think I may even control the media. I’ll have to check my mail and see if I paid my club dues last month.

There’s more honesty in that position -- that people should be able to do basically what they want as long as they don’t harm others, that the government isn’t some mythological beast looking to eat us and our income, but rather ‘We the People’ and that it should function as such -- than there is in the phony ‘libertarian’ canard you hear tossed about by conservatives. In fact, there’s more libertarianism in my stance, and that of most unwashed libruls I know than there is among alleged libertarians I speak with. (To wit: why is it so important to go-along/get-along Fox News acolytes disguised as libertarians to keep the big bad gubbmint out of our lives when it comes to taxes and guns, but not when it comes to the bedroom? Or reproductive choices? Food for thought...)

But to a lot of people, calling themselves a ‘liberal’ would be akin to publicly saying, ‘I worship Satan.’ It’s just not gonna happen.

The way people label themselves is really immaterial. Hell, even Bill O’Reilly makes a big stink about calling himself an ‘independent.’ Anyone buying that? From either side of the aisle?

But with the results of this election, it’s not plausible to say that the country hasn’t taken a mighty swing of the pendulum away from the so-called conservatism of lowering taxes for the new Gilded Class and dumping money into abstinence programs at the expense of actual, useful sex-ed, and sending our soldiers overseas on dubious if not downright false information. Even if you don’t want to call it by name, even if people don’t want to call themselves by that name, liberalism has spoken at the polls, and the results are in. That’s what the majority of people want.

Even if they’re not Terribly Smart People like Michael Gerson.

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