Whether one is on the left or right, it cannot be denied that the left has had an enormous impact on the major institutions of American society -- specifically journalism, education and the judiciary.
In every poll I have seen, liberals overwhelm conservatives in academia, including the teachers' colleges, which are quite far left, and in journalism. And few deny the leftward tilt of the Supreme Court for most of the last 40 years.
The question, then, is not whether the left has had such an impact, but why.
I learned a major part of the answer years ago in Idaho where I was the moderator of a panel of judges -- including a past California Supreme Court justice -- and lawyers connected to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. I asked the panel members to give their view of the role of judges. The response of the liberal former California Supreme Court justice opened my eyes to the left's view of virtually everything in society.
He said that the purpose of a California Supreme Court justice, and for that matter, every judge, is to fight economic inequality and racism in society. I responded that I thought the one purpose of a judge was to render justice in the courtroom.
I might as well have responded in biblical Hebrew (that's where I got the idea of a judge's role anyway): He and the other liberals on the panel reacted as if I had offered a new and original notion of judges' roles.
Because the left views the purpose of judges as furthering a social agenda that transcends justice in the courtroom, the judicial process has been distorted for decades. Perhaps the best-known example is Roe v. Wade, a decision that even some liberal scholars -- such as Professor Laurence Tribe of Harvard Law School -- have criticized.
In the words of pro-choice liberal Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen, "[T]he very basis of the Roe v. Wade decision -- the one that grounds abortion rights in the Constitution -- strikes many people now as faintly ridiculous. Whatever abortion may be, it cannot simply be a matter of privacy." But for the liberal justices involved, the question was not whether abortion rights are to be found in the Constitution; it was whether or not they wanted to legalize abortion.
The same principle holds true in journalism. There was a time when the primary purpose of journalists was to report the news. That is why they were called "reporters." But for most news people on the left, reporting the news is insignificant compared to changing society for the better, which is the whole point of being a leftist.
This explains why coverage in the mainstream news media is liberal. The New York Times is simply more interested in furthering its social ideals than in reporting news. That is why, to cite just one recent example, the newspaper featured such poor reporting about the Duke lacrosse players who were falsely charged with raping a black woman. The facts suggested the district attorney had trumped up the charges, but The New York Times was less interested in the facts than in portraying rich white Duke athletes as racists.
With regard to education, the same change of purpose has occurred. Until the left took over education, the primary purpose of a teacher was to teach, and to do so as truthfully and apolitically as possible. Today, the primary purpose for very many high school teachers and college professors on the left is to influence students. That is why so many high schools show students Al Gore's "An Inconvenient Truth" (and show nothing that contradicts his thesis). It is more important to influence young people to fight global warming than it is to teach them.
The same holds true for textbooks. Until the left took over education, textbooks were largely chosen on the basis of their clarity and historical accuracy. But for leftist educators, a vital goal of American history texts is to make minority students feel good about themselves. Thus, history can be distorted so as to give as much attention to minorities and women -- no matter how much less significant their actual roles in American history -- as to white men, who constitute the great majority of the primary figures who shaped American history.
And the situation in universities is even worse. Entire departments -- English, sociology, political science, women's studies and African American studies, to name a few -- have become leftist laboratories. Their commitment to actual, let alone objective, teaching is minimal. A student is no longer supposed to leave an American university well educated in Western civilization -- the primary purpose of a university education throughout American history -- but committed to left-wing notions of social justice, economic equality, environmentalism, opposition to American exceptionalism, self-identification as a world citizen rather than as primarily an American, and the like.
Merely teaching is as unimportant to most left-wing teachers and professors as is mere reporting of the news for left-wing journalists or mere rendering of justice to most liberal judges. They regard their professions not as ends but as means -- to higher, leftist ends.