In the Charlie Brown Christmas special, Lucy says, ?As they say on TV, the mere fact that you realize you need help indicates that you are not too far gone.? So maybe there?s hope yet for the American left.
On Feb. 28, The New Republic magazine -- house organ of the liberal movement -- celebrated its 90th anniversary with an issue that included a Martin Peretz essay. ?Ask yourself: Who is a truly influential liberal mind in our culture?? he asks. ?There?s no one, really.? Peretz accurately describes modern liberalism as a ?laundry list: The catalogue of programs (some dubious, some not) that Republicans aren?t funding.?
And that?s exactly the problem on the left today. A lack of ideas.
Of course, the simple fact that liberals realize they have a problem doesn?t mean they?re actually going to solve it. Like Lucy pulling the football away from Charlie Brown, this same issue of TNR includes a Jonathan Chait essay that gets reality exactly backward. He argues that conservatives are dogmatic, while liberals are pragmatic. ?Liberalism has no justification other than the belief that liberal policies produce beneficial outcomes,? Chait claims.
Wrong. Consider education policy.
Virtually everyone agrees that our current education system isn?t working. For example, noted liberal Bill Gates recently warned lawmakers, ?America?s high schools are obsolete. By obsolete, I don?t just mean . . . broken, flawed and underfunded. . . . I mean that our high schools -- even when they?re working exactly as designed -- cannot teach our kids what they need to know today.?
Conservatives have ideas about how to change the system. We favor the creation of charter schools and school vouchers that will allow children in failing schools to move to successful schools.
Now, this isn?t to claim that vouchers are a cure-all, that they will absolutely, positively work. However, where they?ve been tried they?ve been successful. Parents in Milwaukee and Cleveland, for example, strongly support the use of vouchers. The only reason vouchers haven?t enjoyed wider use is that liberals spent years attempting to block them through the courts.
In his piece, Peretz admits there isn?t a liberal solution. ?Give me a single liberal idea with some currency, even a structural notion, for transforming the elucidation of knowledge and thinking to the young,? he writes. ?You can?t.?