Saturday, August 29, 2009

Liberal Boogeymen

Robert Stacy McCain has a nice piece in the American Spectator discussing the liberal need for "boogeymen" to explain any rejection of liberals or liberal ideas.

All this watchdogging indicates a paranoid tendency among soi-disant "progressives," a fear that has its source in their own ideology. To the liberal True Believer, "rugged individualism" is not a lifestyle nor an attitude, but rather a false myth propagated by Republicans for political purposes. The liberal cannot admit that ballets and operas would exist without taxpayer support from the National Endowment of the Arts, nor that a family could provide for its health-care needs without government subsidies and bureaucratic superintendence.

Therefore, it never occurs to liberals that their political antagonists are capable of independent thought and action in the field of communications. If Mark Levin, Michael Reagan, Glenn Reynolds and Ann Coulter say similar things about any particular phenomenon -- e.g., the media's absurdly hagiographic tributes to Ted Kennedy -- this can only reflect a purposeful coordination of effort. Somewhere, there must be some right-wing Gepetto pulling the strings...

Instead of considering the role of individual responsibility, the liberal habitually attributes all human misery to nebulous forces of evil -- greed, discrimination, "Corporate America" and so forth -- which serve as ready-made scapegoats in liberal demonology. Occasionally, when these reliable bogeymen lose their power to terrify the gullible, liberals will conjure up new demons -- global warming, suburban sprawl, Halliburton -- representing the evils from which liberals courageously offer to rescue the helpless citizenry.

The refocus of blame from individuals for their behavior to "society" (or some segment thereof) is liberal gold and very attractive. We've heard the siren call of victimhood on a variety of fronts: poverty, homelessness, illiteracy, unemployment, drug abuse, teen pregnancy and so on. In every case, the individual is not a victim of his own bad choices, but a victim of some evil Other.

No doubt, there are individuals who are poor through no fault of their own. But much of poverty is attributable to behaviors that the individual can control (dropping out of school, for instance, or becoming pregnant). It is the failure to recognize the power individuals should and do hold over their own lives that allows liberals to blame anyone and everyone for "societal" ills than the person who is that ill.