The Revolt Against The Masses: How Liberalism Has Undermined The Middle Class
A short history of the Democratic Party in the 20th and now 21st Century. How it was taken over my Progressives and Marxists, and the literary underpinnings of that take over. The good news (if there is any) is the old Democrats have nowhere to go except the Republican Party. What started with the Reagan Democrats, now includes much of the Midwest white democrats. Siegel goes after “Gentry Liberals”: the social scientists, lawyers, and academics that made this possible. Progressives who end becoming the very things they despise. Sure, this is unfair. But by 2017 I no longer care if Siegel is fair to Liberals and Progressives. In my eyes they’ve lost any right to fair treatment by those of us who believe in the middle class, small town values, and the US Constitution.
But I do have issues with Siegel and this book. One, it doesn’t read that well. His writing style is not to my taste. Two his early his of Progressivism seems odd. I don’t necessarily disagree with it but I wonder if the role of literature isn’t overplayed. I just can’t see H.G. Wells or Sinclair Lewis having that big a role in the political underpinnings of the US. But if you speed read through some of these troublesome areas, you’ll get a good overview of Progressivism from Wilson to Obama, and the disaster it has been, continues to be for American.
Amazon Book Preview of “The Revolt Against The Masses”
Excepts From The Book
It was the very alienation of liberals from the mainstream of American life that made them far more sensitive to the injustices of racism and segregation than other Americans were. The successes of the civil rights movement were made possible by an alliance between Martin Luther King and integrationist liberals who rightly insisted on a common citizenship for all Americans. Their achievements were the high point of twentieth-century American liberalism. A deserved glow of virtue accompanied the efforts to desegregate America; it faded, however, in the pall cast by urban riots and the dead ends of black nationalism and multiculturalism.
Poised between fears of Nixon’s “silent majority” and George Wallace’s populist “fascism” on the one hand, and the promise of liberation from majority rule on the other, the 1972 Democratic Party platform, written by McGovern’s supporters, referred fifty-nine times to various rights, most of them newly minted. These included, for everyone, “the right to quality, accessibility, and sufficient quantity in tax-supported services and amenities.” Various groups warranted their own subcategory: “the rights of children,” “the rights of youth,” “the rights of servicemen and servicewomen,” etc. Mocked in light of McGovern’s landslide defeat as “the longest suicide note ever written,” the platform was “an attempt,” in the words of Yale law professor Own Fiss, “to construct a new social reality.”
Is Muskie Getting The Message?
Senator Edmund Muskie of Maine, Democratic nomination in 1976
Interview from the St. Louis Globe Democrat, Oct. 17, 1975…
Why can’t liberals start raising hell about government so big, so complex, so expansive, and so unresponsive that it’s dragging down every good program we’ve worked for? … Our challenge this decade is to restore the faith of Americans in the basic competence and purposes of government. … We must recognize that an efficient government well-managed, cost-effective, equitable, and responsible-is in itself a social good….The first priority of efficient government is not a retreat from social goals, but simply a realization that without it, those goals are meaningless.
But a judicialized politics tries to bypass public consent. Profoundly anti-democratic when it goes beyond vindicating the fundamental rights of citizenship, judicial politics alienates voters by placing public policy in the private hands of lawyers and litigants. And because rights are absolute, it polarizes by producing winner-take-all outcomes, in which the losers tend to feel embittered. The politics of rights displaces the Bill of Rights and subverts the constitutional design for self-government. In effective democratic politics, opponents must rely upon a public process of persuasion and deliberation; the politics of rights replaced that process with a judiciary whose swollen powers brought disrepute to the essential notion of rights even as it undermined public trust in government. Abraham Lincoln anticipated the plight of the 1988 voters in his first inaugural address: “If the policy of the government, upon vital questions, affecting the whole people, is to be irrevocably fixed by decisions of the Supreme Court, the instant they are made, in ordinary litigation … the people will have ceased to be their own rulers.”
Steven Gluckstern, a onetime leader of the Alliance and a reinsurance fat cat, explained, “One of my friends who’s a billionaire says the thing about being rich is that you can do what you want.” But how do you accommodate differences among people whose wealth tells each of them they are always right and therefore ought to be obeyed? The Alliance, said Bai, turned into “the political version of a nightmare condo association,” because the members assumed that “their wealth conferred on them great vision.” Rather than serving as a financial vehicle for politicians, they thought it should be the other way around: Politicians should serve as the vehicles for their brilliant ideas. When the Alliance brought in Judy Wade, of McKinsey consultants, to succeed Gluckstern as the organization’s CEO, she quipped to a roomful of Alliance partners: “You know what they say about the difference between a terrorist and a billionaire, ‘You can negotiate with a terrorist’.” The joke was not well received. She, too, was deposed.
But why should they compromise? Hadn’t their wealth, proof certain of their all-around intelligence, entitled them to dispense orders and have them carried out? “The strange truth was that the zillionaires had come to see themselves, however improbably, as the oppressed,” Bai wrote. “They knew what was right about what was best for the country, and if the foolish voters didn’t see it as clearly as they did, then it could only be explained by some nefarious conservative plot. They imagined themselves to be victimized and powerless, kept down somehow by the Man.”
Obamas personal appeal and effective electioneering have obscured the decay of the liberal policy agenda. Over decades, the liberal experts directed the dispersal of trillions of taxpayer dollars to alleviate poverty and improve education -it was the price, they said, that we needed to pay to advance equality. The money flowed, in nearly inconceivable quantities, but the poverty rate today is roughly where it was thirty years ago, and the schools are still mired in failure as academic standards fall prey to collapsing cultural conventions. At the same time, an increasingly bureaucratized and ever larger academia is driving tuition, which continuously outpaces inflation, far higher than the educational results could warrant.
As a matter of policy, liberalism has been a very expensive failure. As a matter of patronage, against which it once rebelled, it has been a considerable success. The founding 1920s liberal hope for a society ruled by an aristocracy of talent has been replaced over time by a concatenation of crony capitalism, credentialism, and contraception. The third, contraception (the promise of sexual liberation being associated with liberalism from the start), has, however, failed to deliver on the once shining promise of creativity corked up only by sexual restraint.
What unites the top and bottom of the Obama coalition is an apparent disdain for the copybook maxims of faith, family, and hard work. Upper-middle-class liberals often live by those very maxims, but they refuse to preach what they practice. To be straightforward about how they live would reveal well-to-do liberals as far more conventional than their pretensions would allow.
With the election of 2012, America has taken a giant step closer to the European model the original liberals of 1919 so ardently admired. But European social democracy, like blue-state America, is imperiled by its sheer costs. “Europe got the American president it wanted-the one who would present no threat to its own delusions,” explained the British writer Janet Daley in November 2012. “The United States is now officially one of us: an Old World country complete with class hatred, ethnic Balkanization, bourgeois guilt, and a paternalist ruling elite. And it is locked into the same death spiral of high public spending and self-defeating wealth redistribution as we are.”
Liberalism ha sbeen the most successful of the turn-of-the-twentieth century vanguard movements. Its rivals have all fallen. Fascism, reincarnated in the Arab world after WWII, has given way to Islamism. An anarchic version of Communism, though it still attracts campus crowds and Occupy protesters, isn’t taken seriously outside the halls of academe. Of the early-twentieth-century isms, only a bureaucratized version of social democracy and liberalism remain. Only liberalism can be said to have been a success of sorts. Its sustained assault on the private-sector middle class and the ideals of self-restraint and self-government have, particularly in the blue states, succeeded all too well in achieving the dream of the 1920s literary Bolsheviks: an increasingly Europeanized class structure for America.