The Therapy Sessions
Monday, August 11, 2003
How I Ceased To Be A Liberal...
On the Comment Board at Shared Thought, Jay asked me the following question:
"So, what threw you off the liberal wagon?"
My answer was long, for I am a long-winded bore:
Oh Jeez. That's a hard question. I am a liberal on many issues: I am pro-choice, against the silly drug war, against religious fundamentalism, pro-immigration, against racism and all kinds of bias. I am completely furious that Bush that has not cut governent spending, because I believe we face a demographic train wreck when social security and medicare hit the fan.
But if I could boil my "conversion" down to one word, that word would be AFRICA.
I saw a lot of programs going terribly wrong in Africa. The subsidized food that we send as "aid" is economically destroying Africa's domestic farmers. They can't compete with "free." The free food invariablity ends up in the hands of corrupt regimes who pass it to their cronies as favors.
I came to conclusion that the best way to help Africa is to give them access to hard currency. They make excellent cloth and they grow fine fruits. Labor is very cheap and abundant. If only they could sell on the American market! But American labor unions ("Sweatshops!") and corporate interests ("Competition!") have blocked such things. Both Republicans and Democrats share the blame for this, but no one doubts that "free trade" is an issue that has been taken over by the Republicans.
In NAFTA, I found myself, for the first time, agreeing with the Republicans and disagreeing with the Democrats.I found myself agreeing with them again when the Democrats started muddying the debates about entitlement spending talking about fantasies like social security "lock boxes," defending the welfare system or supporting Affrimative Action.
I could be wooed by the Democrats if they acted serious about defending the country from terrorism, supporting democracy and opposing tyranny and reigning in government spending (somebody like Lieberman might do it).
But they are Democrats, and Democrats have changed.
John F. Kennedy, many Democrats forget, was a cold warrior who liked tax cats and small government (and Jefferson had similar beliefs). I think JFK could be elected today, while Teddy would lose in a landslide (Democrats don't seem to realize how far they've drifted).
Unfortunately, the Democrats want to increase spending on just about everything - especially on things that benefit the NEA or the trial lawyers- and they can't seem to believe that an American military occupation force is better than a dictator who killed 300,000 of his own people.
Most damningly, their vision is not clear on foreign policy, and they will pay for this.
Tribal societies (as found in Africa and the Middle East) understand power. They smell weakness like a shark smells blood in the water. They were, until recently, under the impression that the US was cowering in the face of terrorism,in retreat, and they were interpreting that as a sign that their ascedency was Allah's will.
America's recent performance in the Gulf is changing minds. Where there was once rage, now there is fear. And with fear comes introspection. And with introspection comes change.
Hopefully. That's the plan, and sometimes plans don't work. It was a Republican plan, now it is America's plan.
The Democrats have never had a plan. They were just hoping the winds would change and things would get better over there all by themselves.
So I guess I'm a sort of Republican now. Oh well.