Rubin Reports: American History Distorted – How Lawrence O’Donnell Unintentionally Shows Why Contemporary Leftist-Style “Liberalism” Is Wrong
–Liberals created Social Security and helped the elderly. That’s absolutely true but that was a long time ago. What’s relevant today is that contemporary liberals refuse to deal with or even recognize the crisis in Social Security and have done much to make it worse. They may have created it but who is going to save it?
–Liberals ended segregation and passed the civil rights and voting rights laws. See civil rights, above. If you count the votes, the partisan story is—if you forgive the play on words—hardly as black and white as O’Donnell and others make it out to be. And certainly since this legislation was passed, Republicans and conservatives immediately accepted it and have not really challenged or blocked implementation. Of course as J. Christian Adams of PJ Media has shown, these laws have recently been manipulated for partisan purposes by Democrats.
-Liberals created Medicare. See Social Security, above. Again, this program has long enjoyed bipartisan acceptance. Moreover, Republicans have supported its expansion on several occasions. The question is how it will be managed now that Obamacare gutted Medicare.
-Liberals created clean air and clean water laws. True but see above on Social Security. The issue is whether these should be continually expanded, made more expensive and subject to strangling legislation.
As we can see, it is false to accuse conservatives and Republicans of having opposed all of these things.
In short, O’Donnell largely misstates the record and tries to distract from the real issues of 2012. I think I could make a better case for the historical virtues of liberalism than does O’Donnell. Ignorance aside, why doesn’t he do better? Because his choices reveal what’s going on today. There are basically two issues on which the Obama era rests: more entitlement payments and playing the race (or some other ethnic/gender) card.
You don’t expect O’Donnell, for example, to cite how most liberals—but not leftists—joined in a bipartisan policy to fight Communism. There was also a time when liberals supported genuine academic openness and a relatively balanced mass media. Those times are also far gone.
O’Donnell goes on to say that “liberal” should not be a dirty word but a badge of honor. I agree. It should be but it has been tarnished far less by conservatives’ attacks than by radicals who have hijacked that word and use it for an agenda that is bankrupting the United States, reducing liberties, and making a mess of U.S. foreign policy, among other things. There are certainly many conservatives who believe they can or must make their case by proving that every liberal president was terrible and that every liberal action in U.S. history was detrimental. These people are the perfect counterparts of O’Donnell. But that doesn’t make either “my side was always right” school of American history and politics correct.
Of course, it is deliciously ironic that this statement is made by O’Donnell who is an avowed left-winger and socialist. He is one of those who epitomize the problem and the reason why so many Americans have concluded that the “L word” is something to be ashamed of. That will change only when liberals and Democrats rebel, perhaps after a resounding electoral defeat, and throw out the left-wing hijackers.
And what if that doesn’t happen? Well, between 1861 and 1913, a period of 52 years following their dreadful performance during the Civil War crisis, the Democrats only held the White House for eight years, and that was the conservative Grover Cleveland. Following the debacle of Jimmy Carter, the president whom Obama most resembles, during the years 1981 to 2009, the Democrats held the White House only eight of those 28 years, and that was by Bill Clinton who ran as a centrist. A whole long list of Democrats from the left side of the party also failed miserably. Remember George McGovern, Jimmy Carter, Al Gore, John Kerry, and Michael Dukakis?
The truth is that neither Democrats nor Republicans, liberals nor conservatives have a monopoly on historical virtue. It all depended on the specific circumstances of the time. And the specific circumstances of our time make the Obama-O’Donnell crew a disaster for America.
About the Author: Professor Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal. See the GLORIA/MERIA site at www.gloria-center.org.
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