Progressives seem rather hard pressed these days to understand what has become of their agenda. Take journalist and author Neal Gabler, writing in the Los Angeles Times on Monday:
“Americans don’t have the political will to encourage their government to act boldly when necessary, and because we shrink from addressing the things that assail us, we aren’t likely to get the car out of the ditch we’re in anytime soon. And while Americans cling to their self-image of intrepidness here in the land of the free and the home of the brave, we are on target to demonstrate at the polls that we are anything but.”
Or former presidential candidate, John Kerry:
” We have an electorate that doesn’t always pay that much attention to what’s going on so people are influenced by a simple slogan rather than the facts or the truth or what’s happening,”
Or Hollywood director Rob Reiner
“My fear is that the Tea Party gets a charismatic leader, because all they’re selling is fear and anger and that’s all Hitler sold. “I’m angry and I’m frightened and you should hate that guy over there.”
One can imagine such chastened progressives sitting glumly around tables at Hollywood dinner parties, bemoaning the fate of their agenda and wondering what could have possibly gone wrong.
After all , it was only 24 months ago that the most radical leader in American history, a man with little experience in government nor even as a politician, had whipped his Democratic base into a frenzied belief that his Administration was going to save America.
The tears of joy rolling down the cheeks of Oprah Winfrey and Jesse Jackson; the chill that traveled down the leg of Chris Matthews; the sense of relief claimed by Nancy Pelosi and Edward Kennedy – all of it, for an electorate that is frightened, has real no backbone, can’t bear change and doesn’t deserve its Savior.
Perhaps, then, it is time for the intrepid, bold progressives to be reminded of something by passive, frightened conservatives. The United States became the most prosperous country in the world, with a population which enjoys more personal freedoms than any other people in history because of its prudence in not following the failed social experiments of Europe and in resisting, for the most part, ensnarement in other nations’ territorial squabbles.
There have been, to be sure, mistakes and missteps along the way.
But Gabler, Kerry, Reiner et al. should at least be aware that despite the failure to live up to the progressive vision, the ‘timorous’ American electorate remains anchored to values that have prevented drift into murky ideological waters and provided journalists, politicians and entertainers such as themselves with a platform and a freedom to write and speak contemptuously of their own country.
The President of the United States doesn’t seem to understand any of it either.
At a fundraiser in Boston on October 16 he remarked:
“And so part of the reason that our politics seems so tough right now, and facts and science and argument does not seem to be winning the day all the time, is because we’re hard-wired not to always think clearly when we’re scared. And the country is scared, and they have good reason to be.”
Hard wired not to think clearly? When will this president finally appreciate that it is not economic turmoil nor crisis which has scarred the American electorate. It is, rather, his own failure to inspire confidence and an inability to take the measure of the political climate which has sent millions of disenchanted voters fleeing into the arms of the Tea Party Movement.
It would be a tragic mistake for progressives to fail to learn the lessons of this election cycle. If they persist in casting blame on ordinary Americans, those who feel Obama has gone too far in mortgaging their future to foreign nations or shackling the country to an unworkable health care system, they will almost certainly guarantee that the failed experiment in progressivism will not be revisited in their lifetimes.
It is well then that Rob Reiner invokes the image of Adolf Hitler. It provides me with an unmatched opportunity to make my own reference to the German dictator. Near the end of his life, Hitler took to blaming the German people for his country’s military and diplomatic catastrophes, endlessly declaiming that the Germans had missed their opportunity for greatness and that they did not deserve him.
Hitler’s final days, as reported by his surviving aides , left us with the nomenclature for a mind under siege – bunker mentality.
As it stares in the face of a crushing defeat, that seems to be a surprisingly apt description for the entire progressive movement itself.