The Failure of Liberalism

I think experience will teach you a combination of liberalism and conservatism. We have to be progressive and at the same time we have to retain values. We have to hold onto the past as we explore the future. – Oliver Stone

One of the greatest tragedies of the 20th century has been the decline of liberalism and the ascendancy of conservatism. While there are many opinions for the cause of this phenomenon the one that is the most fraudulent is that America is a conservative nation. This false premise has been propagated by those who want to maintain some fictitious sense of America’s past and a desire to reverse the progress we have achieved. Over the course of the last 50 years they have steadily and persistently chipped away at those ideas which defined liberalism (shared sacrifice, equality, and shared responsibility) and replaced them with greed, selfishness, and special interests while simultaneously demonizing liberalism as socialism.

Unfortunately, those of us who call ourselves liberals and subscribe to those principles that not only provided freedom, equality, and dignity to blacks and women, but also created the largest middle-class the world has ever known have allowed what we have accomplished to be tarnished and vilified. Unions which offered working-class Americans with livable wages, benefits, and organization became excessive and corrupt allowing themselves to be marginalized and thus laying the foundation for the corporate takeover of our political process. Without ongoing political organizations like unions to balance the scale the American worker has seen their share of the American Dream shrink while at the same time the wealthy class has seen their share increase to historic levels. While this is not a new phenomenon without the counterbalance of unions and organized political dissent the wealthy have been able to transform the political landscape in such a way that while the American worker is one of, if not the most productive worker in the world and yet they have seen their industries shipped overseas and their wages reduced or become stagnant.

The failure of liberalism is that while we focused on the physical aspects of inequality and poverty we did little to focus on the psychological effects of these issues. To use the analogy of “cream” rising to the top as that happens what is left at the bottom is more concentrated and more difficult to rise. You get less cream rising to the top and more sediment at the bottom. That sediment becomes more intransigent and begins to develop a mindset of poverty. Unfortunately today America is suffering from a large segment of our population with both situational poverty and generational poverty. Many of the people who are now dealing with situational poverty (poverty caused by a situation such as unemployment, medical reasons, etc.) will find it more difficult to overcome these circumstances as we face large unemployment as the new normal. Those suffering from generational poverty (poverty that has lasted over multiple generations) will find it next to impossible to overcome their external as well internal obstacles.

A couple of generations ago we had a strong manufacturing base that could absorb many of these low-skilled workers and offer them a pathway out of poverty. Today there are fewer opportunities for these workers to make a livable wage and move out of poverty. Because there is no longer a connection between effort and benefits or success we now have an intransigent underclass which is mostly urban and mostly black that lacks the opportunities to become middle-class and also lacks the desire to put in the work. Overcoming poverty requires hard work on the part of the individual to overcome the many obstacles designed to prevent their success and there appears to be an attitude among many of our young people that success no longer requires hard work. They instead seem to believe that there are short-cuts and easy money. It is important to be prepared for the opportunities but opportunity must also exist.

What we failed to realize is that while the fight to reduce poverty and inequality to us are self-evident concepts worthy of support there are many people who view them as collateral damage of capitalism. We falsely assumed that most caring people agreed with our position and supported the fight that has been waged yet there has been a slow erosion through materialism and greed undermining our social safety net and demonizing those who rely on it. We have not done a good enough job of combating the immorality of their argument and have allowed them to couch it in economics. Instead of it being our moral obligation to help those less fortunate, the weak, and the aged it has now come down to we can’t afford them. We can afford to give tax-cuts to the wealthy and corporations but we can’t afford to help the poor and less fortunate.

If we are to overcome the propaganda of the wealthy to demean and undermine the needy then we have to once again regain our moral footing and call out these tactics and their proponents for who and what they are. We must also be willing to address the excesses of our programs and be willing to innovate to overcome the intransigence of poverty. It is difficult to make the case for “food instability” while at the same time we have high rates of juvenile and adult obesity in these same communities. There is and has been a concerted effort on the part of the wealthy to undermine our social safety net. It has become fashionable to label the poor as lazy and morally bankrupt, but it wasn’t the poor who extorted billions of dollars from our economy, it wasn’t the poor who nearly brought our economic system to the brink of collapse, and it certainly wasn’t the poor who requested and received billions of dollars in wealth transfer.

There is this talk about class-warfare and I find it amazing that the only time we have this conversation is when the wealthy are being asked to contribute. I didn’t hear the term class-warfare when the rich were asking for TARP, bail-outs, and tax cuts. Hmmm, I wonder why? I guess it isn’t a transfer of wealth if it is going up only when it is comes trickling down.

My generation of the Sixties, with all our great ideals, destroyed liberalism, because of our excesses. - Camille Paglia

The Disputed Truth

Do Fans of the World Cup Tend to Be Liberals?

With Spain’s 1-0 victory over the Netherlands, the World Cup has come to a close. A spectacle watched by millions – perhaps billions – around the world, the four-year tournament constitutes the world’s most popular sporting event.

In the United States, long a hold-out against football-mania, interest in the World Cup has been steadily rising. While still below Latin-American or European levels of enthusiasm, the number of people watching games has reached new degrees. In my hometown, for instance, a number of my peers expressed surprising amounts of enthusiasm about the latest soccer news. Even individuals one wouldn’t expect – 10-year-old kids, young teenage girls – displayed passion throughout the event.

My hometown is also fairly liberal place. Indeed, one could get away with describing it as one of the most liberal suburbs in America. Coincidence?

Perhaps not. When one thinks about the regions most intensely interested in soccer, Republican-voting areas generally don’t come to mind. People generally don’t imagine the good folk of Alabama or Utah as being passionately devoted to soccer.

Instead, most would probably characterize people in the West Coast and the Northeast as the biggest fans of soccer. They might point to places like Seattle, the Bay Area, or New York City. Liberal places, in other words. (One might also mention regions more populated by Latinos, such as San Diego or southwest Texas).

Media coverage also points in this direction. The New York Times, a strong proponent of American liberalism, blanketed its sports sections with the World Cup. Coverage included at least a couple of articles every day, a specialized blog, videos, interactive graphics, and even a travel guide to South Africa. Fox News, perhaps the best representation of the American conservative, took another direction. Conservative rock-star Glenn Beck slammed the World Cup:

It doesn’t matter how you try to sell it to us, it doesn’t matter how many celebrities you get, it doesn’t matter how many bars open early. We don’t want the World Cup, we don’t like the World Cup, we don’t like soccer, we want nothing to do with it.

Fox’s evening show, Red-Eye, also aired a feature making fun of the very concept of football.

To be fair, all this constitutes little more than an educated hypothesis. There are no studies out there (that I know of, at least) proving that liberals are more likely to watch the World Cup.

But interest in soccer is just one of many differences between what liberals and conservatives do and like, no matter how seemingly unrelated to politics. Polls indicated that liberals were far bigger fans of Michael Jackson’s music, for instance. Fox News was also far more critical of the musician when he died – another strange, perhaps non-coincidence. The choice of who to vote for in the ballot box, it seems, may be related to far more than just political opinion.

--Inoljt, http://mypolitikal.com/

Quick Hits

 Here are some other items making news today.

Shirley Sherrod, the former USDA official in charge of rural development in Georgia, will sue Andrew Breitbart who edited her remarks at a NAACP Freedom Fund dinner to appear as if she were making racist remarks when in fact the opposite was true. Mrs. Sherrod made the announcement Thursday in San Diego at the National Association of Black Journalists annual convention. More from USA Today.

Ian Welsh wrote earlier this week on the divide he witnessed at Netroots Nation. On the one hand, "about half the people there are some combination of angry, disappointed and bitter with Democrats in general and Obama in particular" and there are those "folks who would characterize themselves, in general, as hard nosed pragmatists and 'realists'." Today, Jonathan Cohn of the New Republic castigates those who talk "about disappointment and disillusionment" in an article entitled The Stupidity of Liberal Apathy.

The Miami Herald has published a poll from Quinnipiac University showing millionaire outsiders in their first run for office besting established career politicians in both the GOP Governor primary and in the Democratic Senate primary.

Republican Rick Scott holds an 11 percentage-point lead over Attorney General Bill McCollum in the GOP race for governor, a Quinnipiac University poll finds.

In the main statewide race for Democrats -- the U.S. Senate contest -- Jeff Greene is beating U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek by 10 percentage points, the poll shows.

Neither Greene nor Scott have held elected office before. McCollum has held or run for office for the past 30 years. Meek has been in Congress and the Legislature for more than a decade.

Both political newcomers have relied on a simple formula to best their rivals: Spend millions on television ads and watch your poll numbers rise. Greene has outspent Meek by an estimated $6 million. Scott has poured an estimated $30 million into his race, doubling what McCollum has spent. ``Money matters. You can go from nobody knowing you to becoming a front-runner if you spend enough,'' said Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute. ``That's not to say it's only money,'' Brown added. ``The messages that Scott and Greene have been able to send to voters through record television ad spending have been effective.'' But Brown cautions that ``anything can happen'' leading up to the Aug. 24 primary. Voters haven't completely made up their minds. And many don't know for whom they'll vote.

In the Democratic Senate race, more than a third of likely voters are undecided. And a majority -- 54 percent -- say they might change their minds.

In the Republican governor's race, 23 percent of likely voters are undecided; 43 percent say they might change their minds; 55 percent say their minds are made up.

GOP Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina announced Wednesday night that he is considering introducing a constitutional amendment that would change existing law to no longer grant citizenship to the children of immigrants born in the United States. The full story from Politico.

Samuel and Charles Wyly , two billionaire brothers from Dallas who founded Sterling Software and who are large donors to conservative causes, were charged by the SEC with conducting an extensive securities fraud including insider trading. The story in the New York Times.

Quick Hits

 Here are some other items making news today.

Shirley Sherrod, the former USDA official in charge of rural development in Georgia, will sue Andrew Breitbart who edited her remarks at a NAACP Freedom Fund dinner to appear as if she were making racist remarks when in fact the opposite was true. Mrs. Sherrod made the announcement Thursday in San Diego at the National Association of Black Journalists annual convention. More from USA Today.

Ian Welsh wrote earlier this week on the divide he witnessed at Netroots Nation. On the one hand, "about half the people there are some combination of angry, disappointed and bitter with Democrats in general and Obama in particular" and there are those "folks who would characterize themselves, in general, as hard nosed pragmatists and 'realists'." Today, Jonathan Cohn of the New Republic castigates those who talk "about disappointment and disillusionment" in an article entitled The Stupidity of Liberal Apathy.

The Miami Herald has published a poll from Quinnipiac University showing millionaire outsiders in their first run for office besting established career politicians in both the GOP Governor primary and in the Democratic Senate primary.

Republican Rick Scott holds an 11 percentage-point lead over Attorney General Bill McCollum in the GOP race for governor, a Quinnipiac University poll finds.

In the main statewide race for Democrats -- the U.S. Senate contest -- Jeff Greene is beating U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek by 10 percentage points, the poll shows.

Neither Greene nor Scott have held elected office before. McCollum has held or run for office for the past 30 years. Meek has been in Congress and the Legislature for more than a decade.

Both political newcomers have relied on a simple formula to best their rivals: Spend millions on television ads and watch your poll numbers rise. Greene has outspent Meek by an estimated $6 million. Scott has poured an estimated $30 million into his race, doubling what McCollum has spent. ``Money matters. You can go from nobody knowing you to becoming a front-runner if you spend enough,'' said Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute. ``That's not to say it's only money,'' Brown added. ``The messages that Scott and Greene have been able to send to voters through record television ad spending have been effective.'' But Brown cautions that ``anything can happen'' leading up to the Aug. 24 primary. Voters haven't completely made up their minds. And many don't know for whom they'll vote.

In the Democratic Senate race, more than a third of likely voters are undecided. And a majority -- 54 percent -- say they might change their minds.

In the Republican governor's race, 23 percent of likely voters are undecided; 43 percent say they might change their minds; 55 percent say their minds are made up.

GOP Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina announced Wednesday night that he is considering introducing a constitutional amendment that would change existing law to no longer grant citizenship to the children of immigrants born in the United States. The full story from Politico.

Samuel and Charles Wyly , two billionaire brothers from Dallas who founded Sterling Software and who are large donors to conservative causes, were charged by the SEC with conducting an extensive securities fraud including insider trading. The story in the New York Times.

Quick Hits

 Here are some other items making news today.

Shirley Sherrod, the former USDA official in charge of rural development in Georgia, will sue Andrew Breitbart who edited her remarks at a NAACP Freedom Fund dinner to appear as if she were making racist remarks when in fact the opposite was true. Mrs. Sherrod made the announcement Thursday in San Diego at the National Association of Black Journalists annual convention. More from USA Today.

Ian Welsh wrote earlier this week on the divide he witnessed at Netroots Nation. On the one hand, "about half the people there are some combination of angry, disappointed and bitter with Democrats in general and Obama in particular" and there are those "folks who would characterize themselves, in general, as hard nosed pragmatists and 'realists'." Today, Jonathan Cohn of the New Republic castigates those who talk "about disappointment and disillusionment" in an article entitled The Stupidity of Liberal Apathy.

The Miami Herald has published a poll from Quinnipiac University showing millionaire outsiders in their first run for office besting established career politicians in both the GOP Governor primary and in the Democratic Senate primary.

Republican Rick Scott holds an 11 percentage-point lead over Attorney General Bill McCollum in the GOP race for governor, a Quinnipiac University poll finds.

In the main statewide race for Democrats -- the U.S. Senate contest -- Jeff Greene is beating U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek by 10 percentage points, the poll shows.

Neither Greene nor Scott have held elected office before. McCollum has held or run for office for the past 30 years. Meek has been in Congress and the Legislature for more than a decade.

Both political newcomers have relied on a simple formula to best their rivals: Spend millions on television ads and watch your poll numbers rise. Greene has outspent Meek by an estimated $6 million. Scott has poured an estimated $30 million into his race, doubling what McCollum has spent. ``Money matters. You can go from nobody knowing you to becoming a front-runner if you spend enough,'' said Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute. ``That's not to say it's only money,'' Brown added. ``The messages that Scott and Greene have been able to send to voters through record television ad spending have been effective.'' But Brown cautions that ``anything can happen'' leading up to the Aug. 24 primary. Voters haven't completely made up their minds. And many don't know for whom they'll vote.

In the Democratic Senate race, more than a third of likely voters are undecided. And a majority -- 54 percent -- say they might change their minds.

In the Republican governor's race, 23 percent of likely voters are undecided; 43 percent say they might change their minds; 55 percent say their minds are made up.

GOP Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina announced Wednesday night that he is considering introducing a constitutional amendment that would change existing law to no longer grant citizenship to the children of immigrants born in the United States. The full story from Politico.

Samuel and Charles Wyly , two billionaire brothers from Dallas who founded Sterling Software and who are large donors to conservative causes, were charged by the SEC with conducting an extensive securities fraud including insider trading. The story in the New York Times.

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