By every objective measure, America is in decline. But liberals insist that it is moving “forward.” The modern philosophy of progress is Darwinian, holding that the latest development, whether of a country or a species, is always the best one. Mutations are assumed to be perfective, not destructive.
Obama is the one “we have been waiting for,” chanted his followers in 2008. They identified him as the agent of the final phase in liberalism’s revolution. In 2012, Obama drew upon this revolutionary hope again, coining “forward” as his campaign slogan. The rhetoric was slightly more subdued — he toned down the talk of “fundamentally transforming” America — but it still rested on the same revolutionary promise. No coherent criterion defines Obama’s notion of revolutionary progress. It is whatever liberalism deems good at the moment. This results in trendy liberal causes clanking up a bit against each other: a progressive, for example, can be at once anti-smoking and pro-marijuana. Second-hand smoke is deadly; but drug legalization poses no harms. Celebrities like comedian Bill Maher burbled over the passage of marijuana legalization bills as part of the new enlightenment under Obama. So apparently the Democrats can be the party of “preventative” health care, anti-obesity campaigns, and recreational drug use all at the same time.
“It is dying but it laughs,” said the Romans of their collapsing empire. The chortling of the Bill Mahers last week deserves a similar line. The smugness seems to grow in proportion to America’s problems and pathologies. Their assertions about Obama’s socialism stimulating the economy or gay marriage strengthening the family are on the same level as their claim that pot is good for public health.
America is not going forward but backwards — back to the “abortion, amnesty, and acid” of George McGovern’s 1970s. Not much has changed since then, except that the radicals who espoused free contraceptives, free love, and drugs now wear expensive suits.
Desperate to win in a declining culture, prominent Republicans have already called for a more “modern” party. It only took a couple of days for them to embrace the wisdom of the Democrats and call for a relaxed abortion stance among other “evolutions.” But why stop there? If the purpose of politics is not to win on sound principles (so that problems can actually be solved when you do win) but to win through pandering, the Republicans should discard their whole platform. After all, fiscal conservatism didn’t fare very well either. America could then move forward even faster toward destruction, with two liberal parties of varying degrees, jostling with each other in a competition to see who can deliver bread and circuses to the mob to greater cheers.
On the day that the British empire lost India its prime minister was said to be at the movies. On the day America lost its consulate in Benghazi David Petraeus was at a private screening for Ben Affleck’s Argo, according to Fox News. But it turns out that he needed to get his mind off more than just America’s decline. He was hiding out from a ticking scandal that would expose a new dimension of it. Not that liberals consider his meltdown evidence of decline. Indeed, they see it as an opportunity for more progress. “Get Petraeus back” and “grow up, America,” say the liberal chorus. In a liberal utopia, runs the argument, no one is subject to blackmail because nothing is a sin to conceal. So a little more education is apparently needed for the American people to take these scandals in stride.
A few liberals suggested America return to the good old days of JFK when the liberal monolith running the media protected celebrated figures. There is even a hint of J. Edgar Hoover nostalgia in the criticism of the FBI’s handling of the matter, as if to say that Hoover ran a more discreet, less oafish agency. Historian Doris Kearns Goodwin mused, “I wish we could go back to the time when the private lives of our public figures were relevant only if they directly affected their public responsibilities.”
The scandal has now widened to include the “inappropriate” e-mails of another general. One would have thought such categories irrelevant to Obama’s sexually liberated military. If sexuality is an inherently undisciplined area of life beyond human control — the premise of the gay liberationist movement — why all the fuss? How is “inappropriate” determined? The proponents of progress never explain such matters. Maybe Obama will punish these wayward womanizers by pursuing a policy of naming more female generals. Lifting all restrictions on women in combat is surely the next progressive goal, a reward Obama could bestow upon them for having received their vote. Gone is the “war on women,” as Obama moves forward toward women in war.