The fall of rational liberalism, in 1968


What's wrong with liberal ideals? Part II

For American liberals, there seems to be selfish, ridiculous, outright ignorant, and spoiled-brat viewpoints on many issues that extend far beyond social fairness into a desire for the contortion or destruction of harmless traditions. Being assaulted are: the idea of marriage, First and Second Amendment rights, instilling a revamped "Fairness Doctrine" onto radio (but conveniently not on TV broadcasts or print media), and other such self-serving, limited sight, or non-issue issues. There are energetic evocations from the liberal end of politics that, like it or not, verge on Socialist ideals. And not positive ones, either. There's a running list of conservatives in Hollywood on the Internet, for instance. What, pray tell, for? Leftist Fascists can use it for reference? What?

Jeanne Kirkpatrick, who some on the left regard as a vicious Reagan Era ideological attack ogre, recorded her lack of taste for liberal ideas publicly - at a GOP convention during Reagan's leadership. Kirkpatrick was a Democrat, and at one time considered herself a liberal. The liberals went too far, from civil rights to running naked through the streets having sex rights. No, not literally, figuratively. They went a bit kooky, frankly, and somehow the rational liberals let to kooks and goof balls take center stage. Have a look at some reflections on her and that long ago time known as the early 1980s, in this posting and the links within it.

I took the following from a Time magazine article dated Nov. 13, 2008. It fairly well explains why I am freaked out by today's liberalism, though it loses some value in its desire to keep it short by bundling everything together with the Vietnam War protests. Perhaps there's something in this for you, too. Read this, read the whole piece since it goes somewhere with the liberalism definition. Then contrast that with Kirkpatrick, and you'll understand where I am coming from, almost. (Yes, the anonymous-author-of-this-blog me, "jR".)

Right up front I want to point out that I was not old enough to vote, not even old enough to wear underpants, in 1968. Second, I am white. My ideas, flatly, do not align with the comment on racial freedom (equaling riots and crime), but I suppose some folks saw it as such, in the racial sense, in some locations. I was not raised with any racial epithets passing the tongues of my parents. Never, ever. Perhaps some similar feelings are held today to some degree, by some far-flung whites, but not by me or the majority. If there's evidence I am wrong about the population at large, then feel free to pass it along.

Obama, if he is to personify the next wave of positive change, will be a sensible leader akin to FDR and Reagan, he will not be like clueless Carter or tread-too-lightly Clinton or, say, Abbie Hoffman as president. The parallels to JFK that Obama gets are missing the point: JFK stepped into office when the greatest social upheaval was television for the masses. Yes, there was civil rights activism, and we know how far things went after JFK was elected, racial and social equality became the great change of the 1960s, but this was after JFK was elected. We have more issues today - Obama must work at being FDR and Reagan.

The New Liberal Order - TIME
By the beginning of the 1960s, though, liberalism was becoming a victim of its own success. The post-World War II economic boom flooded America's colleges with the children of a rising middle class, and it was those children, who had never experienced life on an economic knife-edge, who began to question the status quo, the tidy, orderly society F.D.R. had built. For blacks in the South, they noted, order meant racial apartheid. For many women, it meant confinement to the home. For everyone, it meant stifling conformity, a society suffocated by rules about how people should dress, pray, imbibe and love. In 1962, Students for a Democratic Society spoke for what would become a new, baby-boom generation "bred in at least modest comfort," which wanted less order and more freedom. And it was this movement for racial, sexual and cultural liberation that bled into the movement against Vietnam and assembled in August 1968 in Grant Park.

Traditional liberalism died there because Americans — who had once associated it with order — came to associate it with disorder instead. For a vast swath of the white working class, racial freedom came to mean riots and crime; sexual freedom came to mean divorce; and cultural freedom came to mean disrespect for family, church and flag. Richard Nixon and later Reagan won the presidency by promising a new order: not economic but cultural, not the taming of the market but the taming of the street.

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