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Ed Driscoll

The Loud Passing of the Old Order

January 27th, 2011 - 12:42 pm

“American reality has been turned upside down in just 20 years,” Victor Davis Hanson writes at Real Clear Politics. Particularly for media elites, which explains the collective nostalgie de la prog* of the Gray Lady that we explored yesterday. As VDH notes:

Americans no longer count on their news to be filtered and shaped by the Associated Press or the New York Times. Nor do millions have it read to them in the evening by CBS, ABC or NBC anchorpersons — not with the Internet, cable news and talk radio. Matt Drudge’s website, “The Drudge Report,” reaches far more Americans than does CBS anchor star Katie Couric.

Of course it goes much beyond that:

Few believe that Detroit’s problem is too few unionized autoworkers, or that the SEIU has resulted in far better public service and efficiency from government employees. A government conspiracy or an ignorant public does not explain why union membership has now fallen to 12 percent of the American workforce.

The welfare-entitlement state is likewise a relic. Only a few political dinosaurs are calling for more spending, more entitlements and more taxes. Fairly or not, most Europeans and Americans accept that the limits of redistribution have been reached. President Obama’s talk of “spread the wealth” and “fat cat” bankers has not done much to lower $1.3 trillion deficits and 9.4 percent unemployment. So he has dropped the high-tax, more-benefits, class-warfare rhetoric in favor of writing editorials in the Wall Street Journal assuring business of less regulation and more government help.

Race relations are being redefined as never before. Interracial marriage, integration and immigration have made the old rubrics — “white,” “black,” “brown” — obsolete. Rigid, half-century-old affirmative action preference programs have not caught up with everyday reality. Their overseers are likewise ossified, now that millions in an interracial America do not fit into their precise racial slots, and being white — to the degree that it can be easily defined — is not synonymous with innate privilege. The notion that Tiger Woods’ children need an admissions or employment edge over natives of Appalachia or immigrants from India is surreal.

Abroad, things are just as upside down. Russia is no longer the avatar of global communism but the world’s largest cutthroat capitalist oil producer. China‘s cultural revolution is now about making tons of money and driving a luxury car. The European Union has been reduced to finger-pointing and standing in line to beg Germany for cash — a far cry from its advertised 21st century utopian brotherhood. Our old neighbor Mexico is now a near-failed narco-state, bearing a greater resemblance to Afghanistan than to its brethren North American nations.

In response to this topsy-turvy world, the traditional media, tenured professors, well-paid public employees, rigid ethnic and racial lobbies, unions, organized retirees, open-borders advocates and entrenched politicians all are understandably claiming that we live in an uncivil age.

We well may, but we also are seeing the waning of an old established order. And the resulting furor suggests that the old beneficiaries are not going quietly into that good night.

Which dovetails well with a passage from Ted R. Bromund at Commentary that we noted yesterday:

I sometimes get the sense that the left doesn’t realize that 1890-2010 has already happened. A rule of life is that you can only do things for the first time once. We’ve tried the Progressive, administrative state, and have been trying it for years: its deficiencies are not going to be fixed by pretending in an “Ah ha!” moment that what we need is more administration. We’ve been trying Keynesianism almost continuously since the 1940s and even before the recession were at levels of government spending that Keynes experienced only during World War II: the idea that Keynes offers some sort of untried miracle cure is, to be nice about it, a fantasy. Since 1970, as Andrew Coulson points out, federal spending adjusted for inflation has increased by 190 percent, with no gains in reading, math, or science scores to show for it. None of these ideas are new. On the contrary: they are very, very old.

At Ricochet, Paul A. Rahe notes that “Obama is Out of Gas.” But then, so is his shopworn ideology.

* Hat tip to the Manolo for dusting off this great phrase.

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