It is natural, and useful as well, that most politically engaged people dwell on the defects of their own camp while overestimating or failing to perceive the problems in the other camp. In the aftermath of the election result, conservatives are notably downcast, reflective, and at times vindictive against the factions (Tea Party, RINOs, etc.), candidates (Romney, Akin, etc) and key individuals (Karl—cough, cough—Rove) they believe are responsible for the failure last November. This I have always taken as a sign of health, and I actually think we conservatives are moving with dispatch to reflect on our difficulties and to plot adjustments to do better in the future. (Whether the GOP campaign establishment performs as well in 2014 and 2016 is another matter, but I think chances are good that they will.)
Meanwhile, while we lament the liberal dominance of the media, academia, Hollywood, etc., we often fail to perceive their weaknesses and infighting. The Left does indeed appear monolithic, and to a certain extent it is, but enforced orthodoxy of the architecture of the Left is one of its defects. While the Left fights over spoils and money and power, they fight with each other much less about ideas. (As I heard Michael Lind once put it: “What is the Left’s position on immigration? It’s what La Raza wants.”) So it is interesting to note that a few lonely voices on the Left are upset right now, rather than basking in Obama’s currently high approval ratings. First, Jennifer Rubin notes (“The Left protests: The GOP is cheery”), the Left is grumpy that we conservatives seem to be happier people. We seem to be enjoying life, and moreover starting to flank the Left:
After years of saying Republicans are the angry party or the party of no, you’d think they would be pleased to hear them turn to education reform, health-care alternatives, immigration reform and other quality-of-life issues. But now it is the left that is grumpy and trying furiously to convince voters there is nothing there. Unfortunately for the lefty bloggers, it’s hard to conceal the outbreak of substance on the right. . .
The good news for the GOP is that by putting their fingers in their ears and humming, left-wing pundits give the GOP plenty of room to embark on bold initiatives and popular reforms.
And then take in the dyspepsia of lefty historian Michael Kazin, with whom I’ve sparred a few times by email. In the latest issue of the new New Republic (and more about the “new” New Republic some other time), Kazin laments (“Who Are You Calling a Liberal?”) that Obama isn’t really reviving liberalism at all:
Contrary to what everyone who loved—or hated—his inaugural address seems to think, President Obama has yet to demonstrate that he is determined to launch a new liberal era. . . (T)o believe that Obama has truly revived the great tradition of egalitarian reform is to neglect the distinction between two species of modern liberalism: that which promotes the equality of rights and that which works toward a greater equality of opportunity and wealth.
Glad Kazin has explicitly embraced the old time religion of redistributionism.
There’s just no making some people happy I guess. Or at least liberals, for whom unhappiness comes with the ideology if you drill down just a little ways. Yes, I think we can indeed say that “happy liberal” is an oxymoron. But one can see here the seeds of liberal dissatisfaction in a year or two when Obama fails to deliver the Left’s equivalent of the 18th Brumaire or something.