Latte Liberalism

Victor Davis Hanson:

But tokenism is not the only reaction when postmodern liberal dreaming ends up in concrete premodern catastrophe. Escapism is a related response. I don’t think Dream Act supporters in Santa Monica or Atherton wish to live in, or visit much, Parlier or Orange Cove. When CSU presidents retire from Central Valley campuses, they usually frown and head to Palm Springs or Monterey. Doctrinaire liberalism is predicated on the notion of escapism, that one has the means and know-how to ensure that children do not go to the schools whose curriculum and policies follow your own utopian thinking. Or that you make sure your “wind and solar and millions of green jobs” windmills are obstructing someone else’s view. Or that the first high-speed rail link connects Fresno with Charles Manson’s prison in Corcoran rather than cutting a wide swath through Bay Area suburbs.

Medieval exemption is yet another response to liberalism. As I wrote in 2008, I watched with curiosity as tony Palo Alto neighborhoods sprouted bigger Obama campaign signs on their lawns, even though the owners were by definition one-percenter segregationists (East Palo Alto and Redwood City are a mile — and a solar system — away). The mansions of an Al Gore, John Kerry, and John Edwards are expiated by their owners’ always louder liberal outrage. No one really wishes to live in a world governed by the laws of contemporary liberalism. So the architects escape it and justify their flight by finding a suitable token, a convenient scapegoat, a secular priest like Obama to offer them penance for their sins of enjoying elite privilege.

When we talk of tokenism, escapism, or penance, we are still in world of symptoms, not the etiology of the malady. All can understand the very human desire to support a liberal crusader like Barack Obama among those who pay no income tax, belong to the near 50% who receive some sort of government aid, or are part of the one-sixth of the population on food stamps. Self-interest is an understandable motivation. It explains why the public employee and teacher naturally worry more about pay increases than the tax wherewithal to pay for them.

But for the more elite and influential progressive, affluence has allowed liberal orthodoxy to evolve to its theoretical limitations. There is a reason why 90% of professors — life-long tenure, summers off, guaranteed pay raises — are liberal and 70% of small-business people are conservative. The more removed one becomes from the elemental struggle to eat one more day — and never in the history of civilization have so many been so exempt from such existential worries — the more one enjoys the luxury of pondering more cosmic issues such as extending Social Security disability payments to youths suffering from attention deficit disorder or mandating gay history in state public schools or saving the smelt.

The problem, however, with modern redistributive liberalism is that it is predicated on a number of people not predicating their existences on just such modern liberal principles. When the natural gas fracker, the dairy owner, the cement contractor, and the software engineer either quit or move, then the Pine Flat campgrounds become, as they are now, the norm rather than the aberration.

A rich inheritance, a big law settlement, tenure, a movie deal, a state sinecure — these enablers of elite liberal thought are all predicated on the less-liberal productive classes creating wealth to shear. Behind every liberal philanthropist fortune is a huge capitalist score. Bill Gates and Warren Buffett can afford now to be liberal — an expensive indulgence — because in their early incarnations they were no-holds-barred capitalists who made lots of enemies conducting business without mercy and in search of pure profit. (In the 1980s and early 1990s Bill Gates’ Microsoft was cast as a Darth Vader enemy that had crushed the underdog, hip, and nearly insolvent Apple through piratical means.)

Put Sean Penn or George Clooney in a socialist Hollywood (one in fact, not in mere name), where the state ran the industry and the profits were divided evenly among actors, crews, and janitors (who is to say that Clooney “built” a film any more than the guy who swept the set after he got in his Mercedes and headed home?), and soon you would have a suddenly conservative Penn or Clooney, netting about $70,000 a year before taxes and without the wherewithal to jet to Caracas or hold a fund-raiser in Geneva — and furious that they were making the same as the guy who swept the set (as in most can sweep sets, but not all can be Sean Penns).

Affluence and poverty are the twins of liberalism. The former allows one to both dream and to escape that dream. The latter provides the fodder for liberal artillery.

Victor Davis Hanson and me are practically neighbors. We both live an hour or so apart off Highway 99. I am very familiar with the Central Valley towns he mentions. I also know the difference between Palo Alto and East Palo Alto.

In recent years “liberalism” has been defined and controlled by the kind of people Hanson describes – ivory tower elitists and latte liberals. The blue collar liberals that ran California in decades past built universities, hydroelectric dams and freeways. Latte liberals worry about the Delta Smelt and want to build a $100 billion high speed rail to nowhere.

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14 Responses to Latte Liberalism

    • myiq2xu says:

      I have no compassion for the clueless either.

      • yttik says:

        Somebody once told me that what makes America so great is that we allow failure. We can really cripple people with too much compassion and actually rob them of their freedom.

        I know this one contractor that is facing foreclosure on his 350,000 dollar home that hasn’t made a payment on in three years because he feels like he’s being victimized by “big banks and wall street.” How different his life would be right now if he had either accepted his failed investments and unloaded the house, or taken responsibility, lowered his standards, and gotten a different job so he could make his payments? Instead he’s sitting there like a victim, in part because of the leadership in this country that has tried to make failure shameful and always somebody else’s fault.

  1. Good follow up to my article today, Myiq. Hanson is one of my favorite for years. He’s good.

  2. t says:

    I must say, isn’t it nice that the little people get “health care” now? licking the latte foam offa my upper lip.

  3. DeniseVB says:

    Who’s Anne Kornblut of the WaPo ? She’s on Cspan now, and sounds like an Obamette plant. Just finding her irritating …. “you know Ann Romney has M.S. so we’ll feel sorry for her” (paraphrased but you get the idea).

    It’s sort of a pre-game show now, gavel goes down at 2pm ET.

  4. HELENK says:

    somehow or other I would not call brazille a former clinton aide, more like a still clinton backstabber but she is worried about gun owners

    • landolincoln says:

      Good on ’em. Charlie Crist is a good man–he not only had the good sense to switch from Repub to Independent, but he pardoned my late friend Jim Morrison because he could see what a load of bullshit–and how totally political–that bogus charge was.

      Rubio can go f**k himself.

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