Jewish World Review Oct 6, 2011 8 Tishrei, 5772
Democracy's New Discontents
By Victor Davis Hanson
Once upon a time, loud dissent, filibustering in the
A Senator Obama once defended his attempts to block confirmation votes on judicial appointments by alleging, "The Founding Fathers established the filibuster as a means of protecting the minority from the tyranny of the majority."
In 2005, progressives were relieved that a Democratic minority had just gridlocked
How about loud opposition to a sitting president? Well, in 2003, Sen.
These examples could be multiplied. But they are enough to offer contrast with a suddenly much different attitude toward what was only recently seen as the wonderful complexity of American democracy.
Take Obama, now the president and apparently frustrated. He's angry that his progressive efforts are facing legislative opposition: "We knew this was going to take time because we've got this big, messy, tough democracy."
Obama expanded on "messy" to La Raza activists, who wanted amnesty for illegal aliens, by lamenting that he could not somehow "bypass
To quote former Sen. Clinton, many people are now "sick and tired" of the Obama administration's efforts to silence critics. First, during the 2008 campaign, there was "Fight the Smears," a website Team Obama started to monitor its critics. JournoList followed, with a liberals-only forum of influential media pundits venting their private anger over criticism of Obama. Now there is yet another version, AttackWatch.com, a creepy website -- set up with melodramatic photos and "files" like an intelligence service's red and black dossiers -- that implores readers to scout around and send in examples of Obama criticism.
In fact, lots of liberal politicians and commentators suddenly do not like our ancestral "messy" democracy.
Former Obama budget director
Is this sudden liberal discontent with "messy" democracy just typical American politics evident in both parties -- the "out" minority party praising obstructionism only to blast it when it becomes the "in" governing party?
But there is a deeper problem with the entire premise of Obamaism, which was not sold to voters as just another Democratic alternative, but rather as a holistic hope-and-change movement. Obamaism was to do everything from cool the planet to lower the rising waters, as giddy editors and historians compared its architect to a god, and pronounced a near novice the smartest man ever to be elected president.
If polls and the economy are any indication, that utopian dream is now mostly over. One way of explaining the unexpected Obama meltdown would be that a president with so little prior executive experience was bound not to be up to the job of administering the most powerful nation in history.
Another explanation would be the wrong agenda itself: Progressives finally got their long-awaited messianic messenger -- so unlike the inept
But there apparently is a third and apparently more useful excuse. The American system itself -- suddenly, around 2010 -- simply became too rigid and obstructionist to appreciate Obama's agenda, so now it must be changed.
How odd that some progressive thinkers forgot the age-old fallacy that supposedly noble ends can never justify questionable means. Or, to paraphrase the Bard, the problem is not in the stars, but within yourselves.
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Victor Davis Hanson, a classicist and military historian, is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and a recipient of the 2007 National Humanities Medal. Comment by clicking here.
© 2011, TMS