Friday, September 27, 2013

The Coming Death of the Liberal God

There's no point in all this defunding-Obamacare politics, writes Daniel Henninger in The Wall Street Journal, because universal health care is not just a program, but a a great political idea, perhaps the foundational idea of liberalism.
What the GOP's Defund-ObamaCare Caucus is failing to see is that ObamaCare is no longer just ObamaCare. It is about something that is beyond the reach of a congressional vote.

As its Oct. 1 implementation date arrives, ObamaCare is the biggest bet that American liberalism has made in 80 years on its foundational beliefs. This thing called "ObamaCare" carries on its back all the justifications, hopes and dreams of the entitlement state. The chance is at hand to let its political underpinnings collapse, perhaps permanently.

If ObamaCare fails, or seriously falters, the entitlement state will suffer a historic loss of credibility with the American people. It will finally be vulnerable to challenge and fundamental change. But no mere congressional vote can achieve that. Only the American people can kill ObamaCare.

No matter what Sen. Ted Cruz and his allies do, ObamaCare won't die.
So, writes Henninger, all this Ted Cruz stuff is missing the point.  You don't kill a great foundational belief by defunding it.
But there is one thing that can kill an established political idea. It will die if the public that embraced it abandons it.
No, Henninger writes, instead of tilting at windmills Republicans and conservatives should be coming up with "the policy ideas" that will replace Obamacare.

Dear me.  These journalista types really do lose it sometimes.  The point is that all politics is conducted at the level of the symbolic defund Obamacare movement.  Did President Obama give speeches telling us all about the policy ideas of Obamacare?  Not at all.  He made great symbolic promises, as in: if you like your doctor and your health plan, you can keep it.

What Ted Cruz and lamentably few others is doing is committing sacrilege on a liberal idol.  That's how you start a new religion.  You show that you can profane the old gods and live to tell the tale.

Let's go to Nicholas Wade in his Faith Instinct.  There is only one way for a god to die, he writes.  "Gods die when people no longer worship them."

But expecting today's liberals to stop worshipping their secular gods and believing in their foundational liberal faith because it doesn't work is a mug's game.

In fact, Nicholas Wade is not quite right about the death of gods.  Gods only die when the last believer dies.

Today's liberals will go to their deathbeds thinking "if only" about Obamacare.  If only those racist, sexist, homophobe, anti-choice fascists and their evil hate speech had been stopped in time with proper freshman orientation programs.  And so on.  Because if Obamacare had been done right then we would have universal health care and we would live forever.

But the new generation will not believe in universal health care.  They will remember the disaster of Obamacare.  And so the ranks of the true believers will slowly dwindle away.

The question for Republicans and conservatives is how to do the politics.  The first thing to do is to show that universal health care is not a sacred vision but an ordinary government program advocated by the usual canting politicians and run by the usual corrupt administrators and special interests.

Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain, they told Dorothy and friends.  Of course.  Because you wouldn't want her to find out that there is no health care god.  There are only politicians and activists offering free stuff in return for your vote.

But the politics of Obamacare is not just about exposing the god that failed so that the proselytizing liberals fail to find new converts.  It is also about rallying the conservative base, and showing the uncommitted moderates that all the cool kids think that Obamacare is so over, so "whatever."

We conservatives need new leaders that will raise a new standard high for freedom and for dignity, the right of ordinary Americans to be who we are and not the serfs of the authoritarian welfare state.  You don't do that by advancing new policy ideas.  You do it the Les Mis way by jumping on the barricade and singing "Who Will Join in our Crusade?" and getting people all riled up.

That is what Ted Cruz is doing and that is why the Republican base is getting all riled up.  The next question is perhaps the bigger one.  Can Cruz build the organization to fight and win a decisive presidential election that will cow liberals into retreat and empty the pews in their Church of Secular Liberalism?

That's what we have elections for.

No comments:

Post a Comment