George Will: Liberals take note ... Americans tired of being told how to live their lives
by George Will
Columnist
November 04, 2010 12:00 AM | 498 views | 2 2 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
George Will
George Will
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Unwilling to delay until tomorrow mistakes that could be made immediately, Democrats used 2010 to begin losing 2012. Trying to pre-emptively drain the election of its dangerous (to Democrats) meaning, all autumn Democrats described the electorate as suffering a brain cramp, an apoplexy of fear, rage, paranoia, cupidity - something. Any explanation would suffice as long as it cast what voters were about to say as perhaps contemptible and certainly too trivial to be taken seriously by the serious.

It is amazing the ingenuity Democrats invest in concocting explanations of voter behavior that erase what voters always care about, and this year more than ever - ideas. This election was a nationwide recoil against Barack Obama's idea of unlimited government.

The more he denounced Republicans as the party of "no," the better Republicans did. His denunciations enabled people to support Republicans without embracing them as anything other than impediments to him.

He had defined himself as a world-class whiner even before Rahm Emanuel, a world-class flatterer, declared that Obama had dealt masterfully with "the toughest times any president has ever faced" - quite a claim, considering that before the first president from Illinois was even inaugurated, seven of the then-34 states had seceded. Today's president from Illinois, a chronic campaigner and incontinent complainer who is uninhibited by considerations of presidential dignity, has blamed his difficulties on:

George W. Bush, Rush Limbaugh, Fox News, the Supreme Court, a Cincinnati congressman (John Boehner), Karl Rove, Americans for Prosperity and other "groups with harmless-sounding names" (Hillary Clinton's "vast right-wing conspiracy" redux), "shadowy third-party groups" (they are as shadowy as steam calliopes), the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and, finally, the American people. They have deeply disappointed him by being impervious to "facts and science and argument."

Actually, as the distilled essence of progressivism, he should feel ratified by Tuesday's repudiation. The point of progressivism is that the people must progress up from their backwardness. They cannot do so unless they are pulled toward the light by a government composed of the enlightened - experts coolly devoted to facts and science.

The progressive agenda is actually legitimated by the incomprehension and anger it elicits: If the people do not resent and resist what is being done on their behalf, what is being done is not properly ambitious. If it is comprehensible to its intended beneficiaries, it is the work of insufficiently advanced thinkers.

Of course the masses do not understand that the only flaw of the stimulus was its frugality, and that Obamacare's myriad coercions are akin to benevolent parental discipline. If the masses understood what progressives understand, would progressives represent a real vanguard of progress?

Of course the progressive agenda must make infinitely elastic the restraints imposed by the Founders' Constitution and its principles of limited government. Moving up from them - from the Founders and their anachronistic principles - is the definition of progress.

Recently, Newsweek's Jonathan Alter decided, as the president has decided, that what liberals need is not better ideas but better marketing of the ones they have: "It's a sign of how poorly liberals market themselves and their ideas that the word 'liberal' is still in disrepute despite the election of the most genuinely liberal president that the political culture of this country will probably allow."

"Despite"? In 2008, Democrats ran as Not George Bush. In 2010, they ran as Democrats. Hence, inescapably, as liberals, or at least as obedient to liberal leaders. Hence Democrats' difficulties.

Responding to Alter, George Mason University economist Don Boudreaux agreed that interest-group liberalism has indeed been leavened by idea-driven liberalism. Which is the problem.

"These ideas," Boudreaux says, "are almost exclusively about how other people should live their lives. These are ideas about how one group of people (the politically successful) should engineer everyone else's contracts, social relations, diets, habits, and even moral sentiments." Liberalism's ideas are "about replacing an unimaginably large multitude of diverse and competing ideas ... with a relatively paltry set of 'Big Ideas' that are politically selected, centrally imposed, and enforced by government, not by the natural give, take and compromise of the everyday interactions of millions of people."

This was the serious concern that percolated beneath the normal froth and nonsense of the elections: Is political power - are government commands and controls - superseding and suffocating the creativity of a market society's spontaneous order? On Tuesday, a rational and alarmed American majority said "yes."

George Will is a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist for The Washington Post.
Comments
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Indian Joe
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November 04, 2010
A little upset are you there jane - well thank God that a majority of Americans disagreed with you on Tuesday. It is amazing that you are criticizing "middle class workers" - which leads me to believe you are either one of the elite, or a welfare recepient. In either case you are obviously representative of the people of America or even Cobb County. Typical of all liberals, you have failed to understand where the mega inernational corporations have their allegiance, as well as all union workers (are you one of them too?). Check the donors lists and see which party gets the lion's share of corporate and wealthy donations. Does your distain also go to George Sorros, the biggest contributor to the dems? I doubt it. Not ice you can't help but try to villianize FoxNews - but I think a lot of people are beginning to understand that the lame stream media is not honest. Gee, and they call conservatives/republicans mean spirited. For me, and millions of others,if given the choise, I would rather be brain-washed by the "atupidity" of FoxNews than brain-dead from watching stations that only have one agenda - to take over this country in any way possible.
jane Balfour
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November 04, 2010
Obviously the ill-informed, Fox brain-washed masses of middle class workers have once again voted against their best interest and in favor of mega international corporations and tax breaks for the very wealthy. Stupidity reigns thanks to Fox lies.
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