Roger L. Simon

Is Liberalism Dead?

Not long ago, September 2009 to be exact, Random House published The Death of Conservatism by New York Times Book Review editor Sam Tanenhaus, which, according to Publisher’s Weekly, “argues that Republicans must moderate their focus on ideological purity if they are to return from the political wilderness.”  The same review also tells us the book “argues that the contemporary Right define[s] itself less by what it yearns to conserve than by what it longs to destroy — and that pragmatic Democrats like Bill Clinton and Barack Obama have usurped the Republicans’ once winning focus on social stability.”

Well, fourteen short months later, we could all say to Tanenhaus — depending on our level of rudeness and vulgarity — hardeeharhar, ROTFLMAO, or eat my shorts.

But this isn’t to make fun of the editor —  or even to get back at him (well, maybe a little) for there having been no review of my latest book in the NYTBR when all the previous ten, written when I was a liberal, had one.

No, this is to point out how treacherous, even foolhardy, political predictions are.  Nevertheless, I am going to make one. For the foreseeable future, liberalism is dead.  To go further, as the great Preston Sturges once said of chivalry, liberalism “is not only dead, it’s decomposed.”

Whence comes this decomposition?  Primarily from the fact that society is aging so fast it can no longer afford liberalism’s various Ponzi schemes engendered by Keynesian economics. We can barely pay these entitlements now, which are the principal ornaments of liberalism, let alone in the future.  Then it will be a disaster.  We’re all growing broke.  Some of us are just going broke faster.  And going broke fastest of all may be the United States of America.

And — here’s the scary part — that’s true no matter at what level we tax ourselves.  Tax the rich at ninety-nine percent and the numbers still will not crunch.  There aren’t enough rich people to make up the gap. Not even close. It’s all an illusion — a myth of “fairness,”  which is in reality unfair. In  the world of hard facts, we’re stuck unless we cut government handouts — Social Security and Medicare — almost beyond recognition. It’s sad but true. If we don’t, it’s bye, bye, Miss American Pie.  Take that state-owned Chevy, drive it to the levee and let it sink in quick sand. In fact, it’s already mostly disappeared with only the antenna showing.

Now of course I am referring to modern liberalism, not classical liberalism.  And when I say liberalism is dead, it does not mean that everybody knows or acknowledges this rigor mortis — or that it will act dead.  Its adherents, especially the legions with a vested economic (unions, etc.) or social (Hollywood, media) interest, will never admit it. They will change the subject from economics so they don’t have to debate or examine concrete conditions.  They will seek bailouts to push back any day of reckoning. To distract us and themselves, they will continue to insist the Tea Party movement is racist, even though that is a demonstrable lie, a form of nostalgia, and there are already black congressmen elected with the support of the movement.  For those liberals, the truth is not important — preservation of self-image and lifestyle is.

But I would remind those people that they have children too.  Someone has to pay for all this.  If we don’t, our kids will.  And that makes the assumption that we can get away with it within our remaining life spans.  I doubt we can.