Roger L. Simon

Liberalism, the Decline of an Illusion

I have no idea if Republicans will end their circular firing squad and unite sufficiently to right our country, but one thing seems abundantly clear from the events of the last weeks, including Tuesday’s election in which Terry McAuliffe barely eked out a victory over the unexciting Ken Cuccinelli. Liberalism in our country is in a more precarious position than ever. It may not even really exist.

Liberalism as practiced in today’s America is a chimera, not actually an ideology but an alliance of interest groups controlled by elites for the preservation of their (the elites’) wealth and power. The interest groups often seem to be working against their own advantage by being so affiliated (e. g. African-Americans are in the worst shape in years under Obama), but not the elites who have been able to thrive. These elites are also able to appear altruistic to themselves and others while behaving in manners that are hideously selfish and atrocious to the common good. Liberalism is not so much an ideology in our society as it is a shield, a defense mechanism for a lifestyle.

This accounts, in part, for all the lying and bumbling in the face of the Obamacare debacle from the president on down to his hapless porte-paroles Jay Carney and Deborah Wasserman-Schultz (who apparently is so flummoxed she cannot pronounce the word “misled”). None of them ever knew what the healthcare legislation was in the first place in anything approximating serious detail. That would have been been too much of a bother when it was just a pose. It was never really about people’s health anyway — it was for show.

Some accuse liberals of being “statists,” but they are actually more confused than that. They don’t know what they think. But it doesn’t matter because they know what they want — power, control, and the wealth that comes along with it. (Does Al Gore believe in cataclysmic global warming anymore in the face of all the contrary evidence? Who knows? But he has to say he does.)

What Republicans are now confronting is an empty machine. Few outside the academy believe in Keynesian economics anymore and the foreign policy of the Obama administration is inscrutable because it is non-existent. The current attempts to negotiate with Iran and to resolve the perpetual Israeli-Palestinian conflict are more of the same sort of illusion, doing something to appear to be doing something. As we used to say of the 1980’s Lakers, “It’s Showtime.” Only the Lakers scored baskets.

But this dumb show quality of liberalism does not mean they will not succeed. The very fact that they have no content may be an asset in these post-modern times. So what if there’s no there there. If you control the levers of power, you disperse the money (to your corporate favorites) and have the glitzy White House parties.

But the public is beginning to wake up to the emptiness (and to their pocket books). They are angry. It is up to the right now not to bobble the ball, not to get lost in internecine rivalries. If this is a libertarian moment, as some are saying, seize it, but seize it in a direct and clear manner. Know what you stand for. One of the reasons Obamaa could never be transparent is he doesn’t. He only stands for power — and he’s transparent enough about that.

More people than ever in my lifetime now want less government (well, maybe except for some people in New York City who just elected that Sandinista-loving bozo de Blasio — they’ll learn when their property values start to tank). It’s up to us now to make it happen. All we have to do is overcome the illusion of liberalism. Since it isn’t there, it shouldn’t be all that difficult.