I read an interesting if suppositionally-based post over at Crooked Timber, but the comments section made much more of an impression. Apparently, the Lefty blogosphere wants an ideologically pure victory free from allies.
As I’ve written before, libertarians used to have a sort of quid pro quo with Republicans and, by extension, conservatives: you agree with us on economics and keep the Bible-thumping to a dull roar, and we’ll hold our nose and support you, as long as it keeps the Commies out. Absent the Commies, well, that Bible-thumping was kinda irritating, but as long as they didn’t get too wacko, well, old habits die hard.
Enter George Bush and the neo-cons. They abandoned economic liberalism for a nativist corporatism (protectionism) mixed with a big-government welfare expansion that, had it come from Clinton, would be triggering calls for an armed insurrection by the right wing. All this while they informally suspend habeus corpus and greatly expand police powers while reducing judicial oversight. Some of that was inevitable after 9/11, but they’ve jumped on it with an enthusiasm not seen since World War II.
So I’d been thinking that there was an historic opportunity for a new quid-pro-quo with the Democrats and, by extension, liberals: you keep on with Clintonomics instead of Chomskyomics, and play up keeping the government out of people’s bedrooms while keeping the nanny-state instinct down to a dull roar, and we’ll support you as long as it keeps out the neo-cons. I thought Dean might do that–he clearly appealed to the base while getting respect out of those not already compulsive Rush Limbaugh listeners.
However, when looking at what I thought was a fairly respectable Left-leaning blog, the comments really took me by surprise. Sure, selection bias, etc., etc., but geez:
The right think they can destroy the system and create the Libertarian Paradise, but I am now hoping to seem them all on a gallows in my lifetime. I have never been so hopeful.
Oh, wait, decency still has a place, as in this rebuke to the above from the blog owner:
I presume and hope for your sake that youre trying to provoke an outraged reaction here from someone rather than make a serious claim – this is trolling in my book, and not compatible with the kinds of argument that I want to have in my comments section. Youre on your first warning. Feel free to express strong and vigorous opinions about me or whoever else – but saying that you want to string up everyone on the other half of the political spectrum is way beyond the kinds of argument Im prepared to tolerate.
But wait, this is the “explanation”:
I apologize to Henry for the violent metaphor, which is all it was intended to be.
In my defense I can only say that I take Krugman and Volcker seriously, in that we are likely to have an international monetary collapse, perhaps as soon as five years. That four of the major world leaders (Bush,Blair,Howard,Putin) are polarizing figures desperately trying to deceive their electorates. That solutions to the MiddleEast and Islamism seem absent among the best. That the election of Kerry is irrelevant.
In other words I do sincerely believe we are headed for a catastrophic transitional period. History informs my personal opinion as to how it will resolve itself.
Consider, for a moment, if someone had said “I want to see all blacks strung up” and had been rebuked, but then they came back and said, “Naw, I meant metaphorically, because I think if blacks get the vote they’ll destroy the world and it will provoke just that kind of thing. It was analysis, y’see? Sorry for mah strawng tawk.” What would be the decent reply to that?
According to this blog owner:
Bob – apology and explanation duly accepted.
So: the Left thinks that the Republicans are in any way libertarian, which proves they either don’t know what libertarian is or they don’t actually watch Dan Rather’s non-memo-based news. Oh, and they think libertarians are going to destroy the world and they’ll cackle in delight to see us get murdered in the ensuing chaos.
And that’s OK.
Apart from the similarity of this to the Republicans saying, “Hey, Clinton’s election is a good thing! Now he’ll ruin the economy and we’ll never have to worry about Democrats again ever!” I haven’t felt this much love since the last Osama bin Laden video. At least he’s honest that he’s not metaphorical when he says he wants to see me dead. This is the kind of rhetoric I expect out of the Free Republic on the right and the Democratic Underground on the Left. But Crooked Timber? I’m going to have to look at Little Green Footballs to see if they’re advocating killing libertarians “metaphorically.” I kinda doubt it.
The rest of the posts don’t froth at the mouth to this degree but they basically say “the time for objectivity and fairness is over, it’s our way or the highway.” Even if this didn’t bode ill for me finding any solace whatsoever in a Democratic victory, it makes Four More Years of Bush look increasingly likely. The lesson of Clinton, that there’s a lot of opportunity to be had in grabbing the center, has been utterly lost on the Lefty blogosphere, at least as represented there. Instead they’ve gotten suckered into this game of 50% plus 0.0001% partisan tit-for-tat that Republicans are playing.
That’s a losing strategy in the long run.
Now my only hope is that the offline Left is a bit more sane than the online variety, and that Crooked Timber was having a really bad comments day.