Everything Old Is New Again
Man, superb post from Digby (with excellent sourcing at Balkin). This stuff has been preying on me lately, as I see it play out in my own family. My parents are, variously, susceptible to the blandishments of right-wing populism and religious wingnuttery - there have been momentous social changes in the course their lives, and it makes them nervous, I suppose. Yet they are stubbornly resistant to really embracing ideologues - they just cannot go all the way. One of their great gifts to me as a kid (and I was a very oddball kid) was the reassurance that there was no virtue in conformity, and that it was more important to live by your own lights than to snuff them for the sake of comfort. And I wanted to be comfortable, many times, even desperately - I just loved my freedom of interests more. That was OK with my Mom and Dad.
So, it's a bit mystifying to me how touchy they've become. Dad was a professional labor relations negotiator, and knows how to conceal his cards (sometimes I think I have to counter with the tarot or something....), but Faux has certainly gotten under his skin. He's also retired and his circle gets smaller and smaller every year, and he likes his semi-solitude - I have no agenda with him, and don't want to waste the time we have with each other trying to fix the world (nor does he have any desire to really fix me). But the e-mails get lively, and I can see nearly every one of the sore spots created by the constant hammering of right-wing populism. As Digby quotes him, Balkin also addresses the failings of progressivism:
"What is more difficult for many academics to recognize is that progressivism has its own distinctive dangers and defects. Unfortunately, these tend to be less visible from within a progressivist sensibility. They include elitism, paternalism, authoritarianism, naivete, excessive and misplaced respect for the "best and brightest," isolation from the concerns of ordinary people, an inflated sense of superiority over ordinary people, disdain for popular values, fear of popular rule, confusion of factual and moral expertise, and meritocratic hubris."
Hear you, dude. My Dad needs to hear more analysis like that. Modesty and a little self-examination could dispel some of these myths about liberuls (that is, making our faults our defining characteristics), but caving - as Kerry did earlier this week on the gay marriage issue - is not going to do it. So far, my money is on Harry Reid - I think he could even turn Dad around.
Susie needs a boost, and deserves one (remember that Koufax?) Her situation is all too personally familiar. Needn't be much - power in numbers, folks.