Sunday, September 12, 2004

Are Democrats really “Progressive”?

I’ve often wondered why so many on left of center consider President G.W. Bush a right-wing extremist. Realistically, what would that make the many conservatives who believe Bush is not nearly conservative enough especially on domestic issues? Could it be that the Democratic Party has unknowingly, in its“progression”, moved so far to the left that it’s unaware of the wider ideological chasm it produced from center thereby viewing all those on the right as extremist? It's been said that if a classroom of college students read John F. Kennedy’s Inaugural Address with its references to military strength, personal responsibility and God, the vast majority would have assumed its author to be that of a right-winger. Democratic Senator Zell Miller states “…the reason I didn't attend the Democratic Convention in Boston is that I barely recognize my party anymore. Most of its leaders--including our nominee, John Kerry--don't hold the same beliefs that have motivated my career in public service.”
Former Dem and Sec. Of Education William Bennett said “This is not the Democratic party of my youth — nor is it the party I left in 1986.” Commentator Dennis Prager laments that “Liberal and left were once very different, but not anymore.” Pres. Reagan (another former Democrat), said: “…to this day, the leadership of that party [Dem.] has been taking that party, that honorable party, down the road in the image of the labor socialist party of England. And from an essay that I highly recommend by Norman Podhoretz:”As a ‘founding father’ of neoconservatism who had broken ranks with the Left precisely because I was repelled by its "negative faith in America the ugly," I naturally welcomed this new patriotic mood with open arms.”

Which party as a whole has moved closer to its extreme ideologies? I have not conducted any scientific research but I’m willing to bet it’s the party that honors Michael Moore with Presidential seating arrangements at their convention. I’m also willing to go out on a limb and wage that there are many more former lefties than former righties. Columnist Jonah Goldberg agrees…”there are so many former-leftists on the Right it's almost easier to list the people who were born on the right and never left. I will make a bet with anyone out there I can list one dozen prominent former leftists for every one ‘prominent’ former conservative.” Is it not logical to assume to which ideology most political progression within ones lifetime favors? The median age of conservatives is usually substantially higher than that of the left. Louis L’Amour said, “... even a rebel grows old, and sometimes wiser. He finds the things he rebelled against are now the things he must defend against newer rebels...” I can relate to that.

Just as former smokers can be the loudest advocates against smoking, some past leftists have been the strongest opponents of their former allies. Mark mentioned, in his previous post, former anti-war activist David Horowitz who was on the far left of the political spectrum. Horowitz claims: “Tom Hayden and I were once comrades-in-arms in a movement to overthrow America's democratic institutions, remake its government in a Marxist image and help America's enemies defeat her sons on the field of battle.” Now he submits: “Marx was a brilliant mind and a seductive stylist, and many of his insights look reasonable enough, on paper. But the evil they have wrought, on those who fell under their practical sway, far outweighs any possible intellectual gain. It would be a healthy development for everyone, rich and poor alike, if future generations regarded Karl Marx's Manifesto in the same sinister light as Mein Kampf and other destructive products of the human soul.” The late author Hannah Arendt said, “The most radical revolutionary will become a conservative the day after the revolution.”

Which party really comes out on the higher scale within the evolution of ideologies when measuring its accomplishments and failures against history? Conversely, which one has chosen to resurrect defective philosophies of the past? And what does it mean when as an individual, one will usually tend to sway from left to right than right to left, but as a political party, we see sustained movement further left-ward to the point where they struggle to identify their own extreme elements?