It always ends like this. Whether it's a dynasty, a corporation, or even a marriage, it ends in a collapse of confidence, with the guardians of the old order spitting with rage as their facile shibboleths vaporize into thin air.
The authoritarian welfare state was never going to reform itself into something "sustainable" or organized according to the "precautionary principle" on its own. It was always pure politics, with political raiders plundering the wealth of the nation to hand off to their supporters. It was always going to keep going until it ran out of money.
So now the century-long fantasy of the progressives has come up against the cold hard reality of a credit downgrade. Now the American people are waking up and wondering if its political elite knows what it is doing. They are wondering if all those facile promises of benefits will ever be redeemed. They are wondering if they will even have jobs.
We are not yet to the point where people will start to sneer at politicians offering free lunches. Not yet. But the day will come when people will laugh at the idea that anyone imagined that government could deliver social services effectively and prudently. They will laugh at the idea that government could run a pension scheme. They will sneer at the idea that government could run a health system. They will joke about the bad old days when government ran a system of stunningly ineffective schools. But that day is not yet, for there are before us many years of failure and default that will be necessary to drive the lesson home.
The central fact about these Downgrade Days is the utter cluelessness of the ruling class. President Obama is, in these times, not a disappointment, but the very poster boy of the ruling class that he heads. He is a scion of the progressive dynasty, raised to continue and extend the power of his class. Unfortunately, they never taught him how to deal with retreat and defeat. So now the president is sitting in the White House wondering how to save his presidency.
You can almost see Scarlett O'Hara whining to Rhett Butler after three hours of simpering and manipulation: "Where shall I go, What shall I do?
Frankly, my dear liberals, I don't give a damn.