A great despondency has descended over conservatives over for the past five years or so, and with good reason, but it might cheer them to consider how very dispirited a liberal must now feel.
The conservatives’ despair is one of powerlessness, most acutely felt in the aftermath of the recent failed government shutdown battle to de-fund Obamacare and wound up with the right-wing insurgents getting bad press and battered poll numbers and plenty of Obamacare, but there’s always a chance another election cycle or two could restore them some power. The liberals’ despair derives from having power and finding that nothing they do with it works as promised, which is most abundantly evident from the aftermath of the Republicans’ failure to de-fund Obamacare, and this cannot be so easily rectified.
Such is the cocksureness of modern liberalism that even the manifest failures of Obamacare have not shaken the faith of the true believers, nor lowered the upturned chins of the president and his administration as they assure a rate-shocked nation that it will come to love paying more of its ever more hard-earned money for coverage they don’t want or need in order to subsidize the poor choices of people they don’t know and probably wouldn’t like, but among the less stridently faithful signs of doubt are beginning to appear. First-person stories by reporters who have lost the health insurance coverage that they liked and were promised by the president that they could keep are now a staple of even the most reliably liberal press organs, formerly loyal mass media satirists from Jon Stewart to Saturday Night Live are now mocking the administration’s ineptitude in implementing Obamacare, and it’s likely that millions of suddenly un-covered Obama supporters without printing presses or television cameras have reached the same angry conclusions. A few hardy journalists and entertainers have dug in to make the argument that Obama might have lied about people keeping their coverage and saving a bunch of money on it but only because people are too stupid to understand that losing their coverage and paying more for less is a better deal, but they can’t be enjoying it.
Liberalism in general doesn’t seem to be much to fun these days. The increasingly evident problems with Obamacare are the most depressing, given that it was supposed to the greatest achievement of the greatest president of all time, but none of the rest seems to be working as planned. When the pork-laden and deficit-swelling “stimulus” bill objectively failed to make good on any of its promises the true believers could argue that at least it kept the economy from sliding into depression and the earth from sliding out of its orbit and into the sun. but four years and seven trillion dollars of debt and millions of discouraged workers later the president’s economic record requires even more inventive defenses. Scandals ranging from Fast and Furious to the Pigford settlement to Solyndra to the president’s extravagantly expensive lifestyle to the Internal Revenue Service’s assaults on free speech and the right to petition for grievances can be easily ignored, given the media’s eager complicity, but it still makes a holier-than-Bush attitude harder to maintain. Increased drone strikes and pointless Afghanistan troop surges and a national security snooping apparatus that exceeds the wildest dreams of crazed Dick Cheney also make the Obama administration’s foreign policy hard to defend the earnest Bush-hater, and the “lead from behind” maneuvers that have handed the Middle East over to Vladimir Putin’s Russia and a soon-to-be-nuclear-armed Iranian theocracy make it hard to explain how a more Nobel Peace-prize winning appeasement strategy would have fared any better.
Things have gotten so bad that even the gray-bearded and hidebound liberal columnist for the local “alternative weekly” that caters to the hipster crowd is grousing about Obama. He seems to believe that the only problem with Obama are a computer glitch that should have been fixed, and overly protective Nation Security Agency, and that uncharacteristic itch to go to war with Syria a while back, but at least he’s willing to admit to some dissatisfaction with his great leader. At the hipster coffee bar where we pick up the “alternative weekly” most of the regulars don’t evince any interest in politics at all. Five years ago the same hip and tattooed denizens of the bistro were all abuzz about hope and change, and were committed to occupying this or that, but these days they seem more preoccupied by whatever gossipy text messages are flashing on their cell phones. All of the liberals of our acquaintance seem eager to talk about something other politics, and less certain that they can deliver on their promises of utopia anymore than their great leader could deliver on a promise that people could keep their insurance, and the great liberal moment seems to have passed.
This does not mean the conservatives’ moment has arrived, of course, and it will be another year before any political power can be restored to their movement, but it seems likely that the conservatives’ anger will grow stronger and the liberals’ cocksureness weaker in the meantime.
— Bud Norman