Saturday, August 12, 2006

Why American Liberalism is Impossible

I heard an interview the other day with Peter Beinart who has a new book called The Good Fight: Why Liberals – and Only Liberals – Can Win the War on Terror and Make America Great Again . Apart from a slight nausea induced by a toothy Richard Beymer smile offering reassuring platitudes, there was a sense of both déjà vu and ennui, and the interview only succeeded in reinforcing my gloomy conviction that there are virtually no liberals left in America.

You cannot be a liberal in any meaningful sense of the word and talk about winning a war on terror. It is a ridiculous inconsistency and a revealing one. When someone representing himself as a liberal feels he must appeal to Americans in these terms, it tells us a lot about the state of that nation’s values, just as it did when Michael Moore announced he supported that arrogant, perfumed generalissimo, Wesley Clark, for president.

How can you have a war against a technique? Terror is not an army, not an idea, not a philosophy. It is what people with serious grievances of many kinds resort to when they have no other means of redress. The rational approach would be sorting out the grievances, but the rational approach doesn’t achieve the true objectives of a War on Terror.

If you define the noun liberal carefully, I think you come up with something along the lines of one who supports the little guy or the underdog while embracing the values of democracy, human rights, and a relatively free economy. A true liberal also has an open mind to new ways of doing things.

Liberalism is impossible in America because most of the elements of this definition are missing.

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