Roger L. Simon

Are Liberals the New Squares?

This title of this article is tendentious because, in truth, I already know that liberals are the new squares. Not only that – they’re terminally out of it.

But first, let’s roll back. Some time ago, for these web pages, I wrote of the Death (not the Birth) of the Cool. This was picked up and amplified recently, and graciously, by Ed Driscoll. As men of “a certain age,” as the saying goes, Ed and I remember Miles and Thelonious – the days when cool was cool and pot was a reefer.

Those days are not only gone, they’ve faded so far in the rear view mirror that not even the slightest ghost remains, only some imaginary version of an imaginary version. Cool is dead and now liberalism is the squarest of the square.

I mean – do you think Deborah Wasserman-Schultz is hip? This is one of the meanest things I’ve ever put in print or online, but that’s the girl who was standing in the corner at the sixth grade cotillion and you said, “Oh, no. Do I have to dance with her?”

And how about the great Obama himself – he and his “choom” friends twenty years too late to the party, replaying Bob Dylan and company in Hawaii long after the Band burned old Dixie down. It’s all a bad chapter from David Brooks’ already-predictable-when-published Bobos in Paradise. The minute rebellion goes middle class, there’s nothing less rebellious. It’s all as boring as a Volvo.

So we are in an era of desperation. A certain class of people who staked their lives on being cool ever since high school — whenever that was, the sixties, the seventies, the eighties, who knows — are beginning to be confronted with the truth – that their ultra-conventional received wisdom, that which they thought was cool, is a bunch of hooey. (I was one of them, so I know.)

Of course, most can’t countenance this. They continue to believe that government spending is cool, that it is a good thing (how square is that?), but out of the corner of their ears they are beginning to hear a different song:

Libertarians are the cool guys.


What does that mean?

Oh, yes, that’s a word for conservatives who wanted to get girls at parties.

Well, it probably was. But times have changed on that too and nearly everyone with half a brain is kind of a libertarian now, at least partly. The rest, like Paul Krugman, are out of it.

The Washington Post, the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times are squaresville. Even the Village Voice is squaresville. If the East Village Other (remember that?) still existed, it would be terminally square. The Village itself is square – now just another shopping mall.

I guess it’s to be expected – that the cool grew up to be square. Hell, even evangelicals are hipper than liberals now. (I used the word Hell deliberately, even though it isn’t cool.)

Now here’s the thing: Liberals are beginning to realize they’re not hip anymore. They won’t admit it, but they do. Witness Obama’s behavior with the press. He’s sweating like Nixon – and that’s definitely not hip. (On second thought, Nixon was finally hipper than Obama.)

And Jay Carney? Would you call him hip? And what about Biden? Has there ever been a soul so square?

What makes modern liberalism the mess that it is today is that it is mainly composed of people who desperately wanted to be cool in high school – wanted to be Abbie Hoffman or Eldridge Cleaver – but never were. Their longing – this need to be Abbie – has clouded their thinking and their ability to perceive reality, placing us all in a mess along with them.

Meanwhile, Bob Dylan became a conservative.

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