Hegel would have well understood one of the most interesting contemporary developments: the old liberal establishment is shrinking, both in numbers and in confidence, and their political/ideological opponents are growing. Several smart people have noticed the extraordinary depth of the conservative political team, many of whose members were on display in Tampa this week. The Ryans and the Romneys, the Christies and the Haleys, the Loves and the Rubios, the Brewers and the Walkers, on and on. They have a much clearer vision of the real world, and they accordingly have more realistic political approaches than those on the left, who are trapped in a world that no longer exists.
Here’s another way to grasp the dialectical process: look at Wisconsin. Long considered one of the wackier leftist places in America, it is now the cradle of creative conservatives. The Progressive mission known as the “Wisconsin Idea” is politically and intellectually dead and buried. Wisconsin now votes for Paul Ryan and Scott Walker (and probably Tommy Thompson in a couple of months).
If you’re one of those leftists, unable to sort out how the world works nowadays and unable to win an honest debate with your political and intellectual opponents, it makes you very angry, and you lash out at them with a violence that often surprises observers who are less engaged in the political or intellectual wars. The left has died as an intellectual force worth taking seriously. Its mission belongs to another time. It is reduced to fighting for political power alone, and its weapons are what we recently called “the politics of personal destruction.” It’s the only way they can hope to win. None of us should be surprised when the leftists accuse the righties of pushing old women off of cliffs, or murdering cancer-afflicted employees, or waging war on women, and so forth. They have to destroy their opponents one by one. They no longer have a “movement” of any significance.
That’s what happens when you become an anachronism. For me, the greatest line of the week was Ryan’s, the one about the fading Obama poster on the wall of an unemployed young American.
Once upon a time, the left was able to lay claim to intellectual and moral superiority, and to look at the conservatives with imperious disdain. No more. Their heroes are fading to the point where a cultural icon, from Hollywood of all places, sees that the seat of authority is entirely empty, and that it’s time to just let its nominal occupant go. Away.
UPDATE: Welcome to Instapunditeers and thanks to Glenn for the link.