What constitutes the essence of modern liberalism?
Conservatives will return to decisive victories only if we come to terms with liberalism’s visceral appeal. The best way to overcome our ideological adversaries is to understand their approach to major issues.
While conservatives obsess over distinctions of right and wrong, and insist that inevitable consequences must flow from good and bad behavior (see last week’s column), liberals focus on differences of another sort entirely.
The rhetoric of today’s left shows that they see society divided between the privileged and the powerless, the favored and the unfortunate, victors and victims.
Liberals feel an irresistible instinct to take sides with the less fortunate.
While the right wants to reward beneficial choices and discourage destructive directions, the left seeks to eliminate or reduce the impact of the disadvantages that result from bad decisions. In place of the conservative emphasis on accountability, the left proffers a gospel of indiscriminate compassion.
This leads directly, and inevitably, to the liberal passion to sanctify victimhood.
"Enlightened" lefties long to embrace and exalt all those who claim to have suffered from hard luck or oppression: the homeless, single mothers, "people of color," homosexuals, AIDS patients, feminists, convicted criminals, Native Americans, atheists, immigrants and many more. Recent Democratic Conventions have resembled festivals of fine whines, with countless testimonials from one victim group or another expressing hopelessness and helplessness unless the Donkey Party returned to power.
The leftist impulse to side with the underdog has become so powerful that liberals never bother to inquire whether a given "oppressed" group counts as deserving or not.
This explains the odd liberal sympathy for Islamo-Nazi terrorists, whose radically reactionary (indeed, medieval) ideology should make them anathema to enlightened opinion in the West. How can militant feminists applaud the anti-American rhetoric of Islamist crazies who want to keep all women in burkas as the property of their husbands, and how can gay activists identify with jihadi killers who endorse the execution of homosexuals? The widespread activism on behalf of the fanatical internees at Guantanamo remains one of the most spectacular displays of lefty lunacy in recent years. Aside from the common distaste for free-market economics and the shared desire for a reduced American role in the world, liberal ideologues see themselves as persecuted victims with natural fellow-feeling for exotic and angry third-worlders who blame all their problems on the USA.