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megimoo
12-04-2010, 08:11 AM
Liberalism: An Autopsy
The heirs of the New Deal are down to 20% of the electorate.

In the tumultuous history of postwar American liberalism, there has been a slow but steady decline of which liberals have been steadfastly oblivious. The heirs of the New Deal are down to around 20% of the electorate, according to recent Gallup polls. Conservatives account for 42% of the vote, and in the recent election the independents, the second most numerous group at 29% of the electorate, broke the conservatives' way. They were alarmed by the deficit. They will be alarmed for a long time.

Liberalism's decline might appear, at first glance, to have begun with the 1961 inauguration of President John F. Kennedy—when historians noted the first glimmerings of what was to become liberalism's distinctive trait, overreach. Kennedy's soaring oratory was infectious and admirable and even impressed a later generation of conservatives. But it was a bit dishonest. There never was a missile gap with the Soviet Union, as he claimed, or any other cause for histrionics. On the domestic side, the oratory set in motion President Lyndon Johnson's catastrophic War on Poverty.

JFK's stirring language represented a break with the Burkean understanding of President Dwight Eisenhower. Ike, whether he articulated it or not, wanted to put the Great Depression and the dangerous confrontations of the early Cold War period behind us. He wanted to return to normalcy. Yet Kennedy's inaugural put America on a different path, one that led to the Cuban missile crisis and ultimately to Vietnam. It fixed America's stance in the world, and with that stance we were on the road to Iraq and Afghanistan. Domestically it set us on the path to a behemoth big government.


http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704312504575618691747039412.html?m od=WSJ_Opinion_LEADTop