I WISH THE "LEAVE ME ALONE" COALITION WOULD LEAVE US ALONE
Responding to death of Andrew Breitbart, Peggy Noonan concludes -- surprise! -- that liberals are evil (and that we're so evil our evil is spreading):
In a way the argument between conservatives and progressives is that for the left, everything is about politics. Because they seek to harness government and the law in pursuit of what they see as just and desirable ends, everything becomes a political fight. Conservatives fought that narrow, constricted, soulless view of life: "We are not only political, we have other spheres, we are human beings." But in their fight against liberalism and its demands, too many conservatives have unconsciously come to ape the left. They too became all politics all the time. Friendships were based on it, friendships were lost over it. "You agree with me? You're in. You don't? You're out." They became as good at ousting, excluding and anathematizing as Mensheviks and Bolsheviks, as Jacobins. As self-righteous, too, and as adept at dehumanizing the enemy.
It is not progress when you become what you hate, when you take on its sickest aspect.
Andrew and I talked about this that day on the plane. I agreed with his passion: We're in a big struggle, we have to fight. His argument was in a way like Flannery O'Connor's: You have to push back hard against the age that is pushing you. But he agreed too that politics can leave you twisted and deformed inside, that fighting those who would impose their will can leave you as consumed as they are. You have to be careful and not let political struggles take over your life, your affections -- your soul.
Let's start at the end. Um, Andrew? Wherever you are, if you can read this, let me just say that if you were struggling manfully to avoid becoming twisted and deformed by all-consuming political hate, you really should have tried a wee bit harder.
And Peggy? I like the way you argue that it's wrong to regard your political opponents as having cornered the market on evil while simultaneously saying that what's wrong with this country is 100% our fault, even the bad stuff your side does. (You're killing America by demonizing people, you liberal Antichrists!)
As for the main point, well, I'm going to ignore the fact that the premise is suspect (liberals would actually prefer to take the government out of a lot of things where the right wants it in -- reproductive rights, drug use, the right of Muslim Americans to go whitewater rafting together, and so on).
But let's accept the premise. We liberals want more government; right-wingers want less. Noonan's argument is that it's politicizing everything to want, say, a government mandate for universal health coverage, but it's not politicizing everything to try to use the political system to take away what Americans have relied on for decades. That's been the main thrust of the right-wing program since at least the days of Reagan. You're happy to collect Social Security? We're gutting it. You're used to having the ability to unionize? Sorry, can't have that. You count on effective regulation of the financial markets, or of polluters? You expect food and water to be safe? Nope, nope, and nope -- you've had way too much of that, children, and it's time we toughened you up. And on and on.
If you care about strengthening the social contract, you're a menace who's politicizing everything. If you make it your life's work to destroy the social contract -- hey, nothing political about that!