A Convert Speaks
These days the postmodern left demands that government and private institutions guarantee equality of outcomes. Any racial or gender “disparities” are to be considered evidence of culpable bias, regardless of factors such as personal motivation, training, and skill. This goal is neither liberal nor progressive; but it is what the left has chosen. In a very real sense it may be the last card held by a movement increasingly ensnared in resentful questing for group-specific rights and the subordination of citizenship to group identity. There’s a word for this: pathetic.
So says Keith Thompson, who also offers more on his own “conversion.”
I’ll admit my politics have shifted in recent years, as have America’s political landscape and cultural horizon. Who would have guessed that the U.S. senator with today’s best voting record on human rights would be not Ted Kennedy or Barbara Boxer but Kansas Republican Sam Brownback?
He is also by most measures one of the most conservative senators. Brownback speaks openly about how his horror at the genocide in the Sudan is shaped by his Christian faith, as King did when he insisted on justice for “all of God’s children.”
My larger point is rather simple. Just as a body needs different medicines at different times for different reasons, this also holds for the body politic.
In the sixties, America correctly focused on bringing down walls that prevented equal access and due process. It was time to walk the Founders’ talk — and we did. With barriers to opportunity no longer written into law, today the body politic is crying for different remedies.
America must now focus on creating healthy, self-actualizing individuals committed to taking responsibility for their lives, developing their talents, honing their skills and intellects, fostering emotional and moral intelligence, all in all contributing to the advancement of the human condition.
At the heart of authentic liberalism lies the recognition, in the words of John Gardner, “that the ever renewing society will be a free society (whose] capacity for renewal depends on the individuals who make it up.” A continuously renewing society, Gardner believed, is one that seeks to “foster innovative, versatile, and self-renewing men and women and give them room to breathe.”
One aspect of my politics hasn’t changed a bit. I became a liberal in the first place to break from the repressive group orthodoxies of my reactionary hometown.
This past January, my liberalism was in full throttle when I bid the cultural left goodbye to escape a new version of that oppressiveness. I departed with new clarity about the brilliance of liberal democracy and the value system it entails; the quest for freedom as an intrinsically human affair; and the dangers of demands for conformity and adherence to any point of view through silence, fear, or coercion.
True, it took a while to see what was right before my eyes. A certain misplaced loyalty kept me from grasping that a view of individuals as morally capable of and responsible for making the principle decisions that shape their lives is decisively at odds with the contemporary left’s entrance-level view of people as passive and helpless victims of powerful external forces, hence political wards who require the continuous shepherding of caretaker elites.
Leftists who no longer speak of the duties of citizens, but only of the rights of clients, cannot be expected to grasp the importance (not least to our survival) of fostering in the Middle East the crucial developmental advances that gave rise to our own capacity for pluralism, self-reflection, and equality. A left averse to making common cause with competent, self- determining individuals — people who guide their lives on the basis of received values, everyday moral understandings, traditional wisdom, and plain common sense — is a faction that deserves the marginalization it has pursued with such tenacity for so many years.
Thompson finally could take no more. I think that many Rhode Islanders can’t bring themselves to make the break that Thompson has. For so long, the working man and his heritage has been linked to the Democrat party, but the working men lost the reins of the Democrat party long ago. Those reins are now held by radical liberals who rely on the rhetoric of populism and class envy to obfuscate their real ideology. They think that conservatives and Republicans have “tricked” the American voters into supporting them because that is exactly what the liberals who lead the Democrat party are trying to do themselves.
I think too many in Rhode Island and New England don’t want to change horses because they don’t want to admit that the tired old nag their riding now is faltering and no longer has a chance of winning and will only show by default. No one likes to admit that they were wrong or have been had or have backed a loser, etc. So rather than admit their political error, they cling more tightly to reins of their trotting glueworks hoping that, maybe someday again, something will stick with the American voter and they will win the derby. Unfortunately for them, it is the Republican party that currently holds the triple crown. They are covered in dust.