(By “liberals” I mean those who forgather in the Main Hall of the Left Wing: members of the Tax-the-Rich Alliance, the Universal Health Care Association, the Gun Control Squad, the End-Capital-Punishment Guild, the more orthodox sectors blocs of the Civil Rights Defense Force and The Sisterhood, et. al. For better or worse, also mingle there members the Shut-it-All-Down Underground, the Screendwellers Support Group and the To-Hell-in-a-Handbasket Club.)
They distress me, my liberal friends. One and all, they have taken to demonizing Republicans – all Republicans. To my friends, not just every Republican office-holder, not just every Republican voter, but every American who identifies themselves as a Republican is evil incarnate.
The First Amendment gives us the right to demonize particular individuals – providing we don’t overdo it. We enjoy especially wide leeway when it comes to demonizing politicians. However, placing an entire class of fellow Americans beyond the moral pale, as so unregenerately evil that they do not deserve civilized consideration? You’d think that would be a no-no – especially in the Left Wing.
Such an ungenerous, fixated, narrow viewpoint deserves an “ism” after it, like racism, anti-Semitism, nationalism and the more recently identified sexism and – so fresh that it still suffers from orthographic inconsistency – ageism.
Politicism; my friends are politicists. There’s nothing wrong with passing a moral judgment on political beliefs, Politicists pass a moral judgment on political identity.
Back in my Seventh Grade American History Class in Governor George Clinton School (Poughkeepsie Public School No. 3), Mr. Bartlett taught us that the success of the American political system rested on the resolution, through compromise, of two conflicting views of the world: one which sees the present in terms of the past and one which sees the present in terms of the future. Ideally, the compromise between them results in a present seen in terms of the present.
What has kept us on the straight-and-narrow for over 200 years, more than half that time spent recovering from a Civil War, is the continuing tension between Left and Right. Tension between individuals or groups requires something that links them – a marriage, a business, a common avocation, a religious belief. In American politics, that
I’ve written about Mr. Bartlett elsewhere, identifying him as a Marxist – an academic, non-Communist Marxist. Like The Economist, which I enjoy dubbing a Marxist publication (because of the reaction I get) – Mr. Bartlett believed that history was grounded in economics.
While writing this post, it occurred to me that Mr. Bartlett’s Marxism went even deeper than that, extending to a reliance on Hegelian dialectic. Mr. Bartlett saw political progress as the result of the synthesis between the thesis of the moribund past and antithesis of the unknowable future.
Political compromise used to be thought of as a positive activity. Yes, Republicans and/or Democrats might feel disappointed by the terms of a compromise, but there always was this justification: it was done for the good of the country. It’s a different story if you look across the aisle and see nothing but demons, or at least demons’ stooges. There can be no compromise with evil is now the operative cliché. Any rare political compromise, instead of stimulating a sense of accomplishment, only leaves a bad taste in the mouths of the compromisers and a resolve not to succumb again.
(Personal disclosure: I am a member-in-good-standing of the To-Hell-in-a-Handbasket Club.)