Dissecting Baby Boomer Liberalism Like a Frog in Science Class
In his new ebook The KinderGarden Of Eden: How The Modern Liberal Thinks (which you can purchases here), comedian Evan Sayet -- the creative mind behind The Arsenio Hall Show and Win Ben Stein's Money -- has begun to piece together an innovative answer. And his diagnosis beats mine for bleakness (so thank goodness he lightens it up with some jokes too). According to Evan, the movement he describes as Modern Liberalism -- a new, distinct ideology in opposition to Classical Liberalism -- has arrested the development of America not at the high school but at the kindergarten level.
Evan doesn't fling this as a schoolyard taunt about anyone being stupid. Early on in the book I knew he had real meat to his argument as he began a critique of a title that most of us have probably forgotten all about: 1988's All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten, which sold 7 million copies and hit #1 on the New York Times bestseller list. What does it mean that the Baby Boomers made the ideals of this book such a touchstone of their culture? How does kindergarten-level thinking manifest in our political culture today?
About of a third of the way done in its current published form -- hence Volume 1 -- Evan shows a tremendous potential to create a unique analysis building on and innovating from his intellectual predecessors, Allan Bloom, Thomas Sowell, Andrew Breitbart, and Dennis Prager. This is a book like theirs, one that can change minds and reframe arguments in accessible ways that cut through the standard responses used to dismiss American values. Consider Evan's definition of the ideology:
THE LAWS OF MODERN LIBERALISM
- Indiscriminateness – the total rejection of the intellectual process – is an absolute moral imperative.
- Indiscriminateness of thought does not lead to indiscriminateness of policies. It leads to siding only and always with the lesser over the better, the wrong over the right, and the evil over the good.
- Modern Liberal policies occur in tandem. Each effort on behalf of the lesser is met with an equal and opposite campaign against the better.
- The Modern Liberal will ascribe to the better the negative qualities associated with the lesser while concurrently ascribing to the lesser the positive qualities found in the better.
- The Modern Liberal may have personal standards but he must deny them and militate against their use and those who use them in the public arena.
- Modern Liberals do not and cannot seek to better themselves or society. Instead they must lower others and society to their level.
- Modern Liberals have secondary policies that are meant only to somewhat mitigate the greater suffering that their primary policies created or exacerbated.
This focuses attention on a key phenomenon that needs deeper discussion the next four years as the futures of the GOP, the Conservative Movement, and America remain threatened and uncertain. The country's ideological divide comprises much more than just two sides arguing over a 3% tax rate rise. It's more than one side wanting a European welfare state and the other a limited government in the mold of the founders'. Just explaining how the free market generates wealth and a hawkish foreign policy deters terrorists doesn't work. If it did then we'd all be looking forward to the Romney economic recovery.
The difference goes even deeper. According to Evan -- and I very much agree with this -- the Modern Liberal refuses to discriminate, meaning they refuse to make a value judgment of one concept as better than another. Hence in the Modern Liberal era we see the two demographic trends that the Obama team knew to exploit in their campaign: The secularist is no better off than the regular church-goer. A woman with a Girls and Sex and the City singles life (subsidized by your tax dollars) is no better off than a married woman raising a family. It's kindergarten! We have to be nice and not hurt anyone's feelings! Don't be judgmental!
Throughout The KinderGarden of Eden, as Evan dissects the key components of his Modern Liberalism his cultural references -- like Bruce Springsteen and John Lennon's "Imagine" -- reveal a generational factor that I hope he explores more as he completes his book. Is there a meaningful difference between Modern Liberalism and Baby Boomer Liberalism? Isn't the ideology of Modern Liberalism simply the collective political attitudes of Bill and Hillary Clinton, Al Gore, Howard Dean, Chris Matthews, and John Kerry? And doesn't it make sense that a generation of self-described "babies" would peak at kindergarten?
As Evan continues to develop the concepts for his book, I've invited him to contribute to PJ Lifestyle. In particular -- and for his first piece -- I'd invite him to consider how his thesis relates to a developing new trend in the past few years to realign, transform, and grow the Conservative movement.
Evan's not the only one today who understands that the secular ideology of the Baby Boomers' Modern Liberalism needs a stronger response than the one provided by its mirror, the Baby Boomer Conservatism institutionalized by the George W. Bush administration and continued in Mitt Romney's failed campaign and John Boehner's continually disappointing House Republicans.
Just talking about policy isn't enough. We need to go to the root -- instead of arguing for some Conservative Ideology, how about we start reminding people of the traditional American values they've forgotten?
We really do have to go back to first principles, and the lessons of the Garden of Eden that Evan places at the center of his narrative are the right place to start the discussion of what "Indiscriminateness" means: a refusal to accept objective definitions of Good and Evil. The newest video from Prager University out this week also explores this question: