Why has the Democratic Party become so arrogantly detached from ordinary Americans? Though they claim to speak for the poor and dispossessed, Democrats have increasingly become the party of an upper-middle-class professional elite, top-heavy with journalists, academics and lawyers (one reason for the hypocritical absence of tort reform in the healthcare bills). Weirdly, given their worship of highly individualistic, secularized self-actualization, such professionals are as a whole amazingly credulous these days about big-government solutions to every social problem. They see no danger in expanding government authority and intrusive, wasteful bureaucracy. This is, I submit, a stunning turn away from the anti-authority and anti-establishment principles of authentic 1960s leftism. ...
I always thought that the Democratic Party is the freedom party -- but I must be living in the nostalgic past. Remember Bob Dylan's 1964 song "Chimes of Freedom," made famous by the Byrds? And here's Richie Havens electrifying the audience at Woodstock with "Freedom! Freedom!" Even Linda Ronstadt, in the 1967 song "A Different Drum," with the Stone Ponys, provided a soaring motto for that decade: "All I'm saying is I'm not ready/ For any person, place or thing/ To try and pull the reins in on me."
But affluent middle-class Democrats now seem to be complacently servile toward authority and automatically believe everything party leaders tell them. Why? Is it because the new professional class is a glossy product of generically institutionalized learning? Independent thought and logical analysis of argument are no longer taught. Elite education in the U.S. has become a frenetic assembly line of competitive college application to schools where ideological brainwashing is so pandemic that it's invisible. The top schools, from the Ivy League on down, promote "critical thinking," which sounds good but is in fact just a style of rote regurgitation of hackneyed approved terms ("racism, sexism, homophobia") when confronted with any social issue. The Democratic brain has been marinating so long in those clichés that it's positively pickled. ...
Having said all that about the failures of my own party, I am not about to let Republicans off the hook. What a backbiting mess the GOP is! It lacks even one credible voice of traditional moral values on the national stage and is addicted to sonorous pieties of pharisaical emptiness. Republican politicians sermonize about the sanctity of marriage while racking up divorces and sexual escapades by the truckload. They assail government overreach and yet support interference in women's control of their own bodies.
Advanced whack-a-mole is clearly needed for that yammering smarty-pants Newt Gingrich, who is always so very, very pleased with himself but has yet to produce a single enduring thought. The still inexplicably revered George W. Bush ballooned our national deficits like a drunken sailor and clumsily exacerbated the illegal immigration debate. And bizarrely, the hallucinatory Dick Cheney, a fake-testosterone addict who spooked Bush into a pointless war, continues to be lauded as presidential material.
Which brings us to Afghanistan: Let's get the hell out! While I vociferously opposed the incursion into Iraq, I was always strongly in favor of bombing the mountains of Afghanistan to smithereens in our search for Osama bin Laden and al-Qaida training camps. But committing our land forces to a long, open-ended mission to reshape the political future of that country has been a fool's errand from the start.
Every invader has been frustrated and eventually defeated by that maze-like mountain terrain, from Alexander the Great to the Soviet Union. In a larger sense, outsiders will never be able to fix the fate of the roiling peoples of the Near East and Greater Middle East, who have been disputing territorial borderlines and slaughtering each other for 5,000 years. There is too much lingering ethnic and sectarian acrimony for a tranquil solution to be possible for generations to come.
The presence of Western military forces merely inflames and prolongs the process and creates new militias of patriotic young radicals who hate us and want to take the war into our own cities. The technological West is too infatuated with easy fixes. But tribally based peoples think in terms of centuries and millennia. They know how to wait us out. Our presence in Afghanistan is not worth the price of any more American lives or treasure.