Liberals and progressives are having a tough
time of it these days. Even as President
Barack Obama continues to push for more
and more government involvement in our
lives, he’s also proving that government doesn’t always
work very well.
That has shaken the faith of many — in government.
Occupy Wall Street activist and DailyKos.com
writer Eric Stetson admits as much.
“The United States government is moving in a direction
of doing more harm than good,” he says.
“Food stamps are being cut, student loan interest
rates are being increased, the military is wasting
money in occupied territories overseas. And as if
these misplaced priorities weren’t bad enough, we
find out that the NSA has been secretly violating the
Fourth Amendment to the Constitution by collecting
the private communications data of every American,
destroying trust in the U.S. government around the
world and opening up tremendous potential for
In light of these facts, he says, must a liberal lose
“I would like to believe in government,” he says.
“Believe me, I really would. But I’m finding it harder
these days. I would like to be able to proudly proclaim
that ‘I stand with Barack Obama. I stand with
Nancy Pelosi.’ I would like to be able to embrace the
Democratic Party’s embrace of a government that is
supposedly so squeaky-clean that it can spy on all
Americans and yet do no wrong.’
There’s a way out of this wilderness, Stetson says.
“Liberalism is the belief in the potential of government
to do good,” he contends. “When the government
isn’t living up to its potential, it needs to be
fixed. Instead of trying to persuade ourselves that
there aren’t grave problems with the current actions
and direction of the U.S. government, liberals should
be at the forefront of trying to fix it.”
He’s absolutely right. And this debate could very
well be at the heart of the 2016 presidential primary
campaign on the Democratic side.
“Welcome to the new debate on the left,” he says.
“Can we have good government in the United States
at the national level — a federal government that
does more to help the little people than to further
entrench the power of the already rich and mighty
— or is this liberal dream now out of reach?”
History will answer his question, but one thing is
clear. The left is getting a healthy dose of reality in
the failures of the Obama administration.
That’s not to say the right hasn’t seen the same
failures. The Middle East today is largely the result
of the right’s failures to see that no everyone will
choose freedom, even if they’re free to choose.
P.J. O’Rourke sums it up well: “The Democrats are
the party that says government will make you
smarter, taller, richer, and remove the crabgrass on
your lawn. The Republicans are the party that says
government doesn’t work and then they get elected
and prove it.”
Liberals have been in power long enough to realize
the truth in this. They deserve our sympathy.