John Leo

 Liberals have been slow to grasp the mainstream reaction to the no-values culture, usually chalking it up to Karl Rove, sinister fundamentalists, racism, or the stupidity of the American voter. Since November 2, the withering contempt of liberals for ordinary Americans has been astonishing. Voting for Bush gave ?quite average Americans a chance to feel superior,? said Andrew Hacker, a prominent liberal professor at Queens College. We are seeing the bitterness of elites who wish to lead, confronted by multitudes who do not wish to follow.

Liberals might one day conclude that while most Americans value autonomy, they do not want a procedural republic in which patriotism, religion, socialization, and traditional values are politically declared out of bounds. Many Americans notice that liberalism nowadays lacks a vocabulary of right and wrong, declines to discuss virtue except in snickering terms, and seems increasingly hostile to prevailing moral sentiments. For a stark vision of what cultural liberalism has come to, consider the breakdown of the universities, the fortresses of the 1960s cultural liberals and their progeny.

Students are taught that objective judgments are impossible. All knowledge is compromised by issues of power and bias. Therefore, there is no way to come to judgment about anything, since judgment itself rests on quicksand. This principle, however, is suspended when the United States and western culture are discussed, because the West is essentially evil and guilty of endless crimes. Better to declare a vague transnational identity and admiration for the U.N. The campuses indulge in heavy coercion and indoctrination. A sign of the times: The University of California?s academic assembly eliminated the distinction between ?interested? and ?disinterested? scholarship by a 45-to-3 vote. The campuses are politicized, and they don?t care who knows it. Harvard is all atwitter because its president ran afoul of local orthodoxy, suggesting, ever so tentatively, that sexual differences might be a factor in careers in science.

 In their current bafflement over rejection of their product, liberals have been lacing their speeches with religious phrases and asking mainstream Americans to vote their economic interests by rejecting Republican fat cats. It will take a bit more than that.

John Leo

John Leo is editor of and a former contributing editor at U.S. News and World Report.

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