The Nudnik File

Nudnik - n. U.S. colloq. Esp. in Jewish usage: a pestering, nagging, or irritating person

Monday, November 08, 2004

Lawrence Kaplan at The New Republic has another take on the point that Mark Steyn and others have made regarding the condescension of the Left.
None of this, to be sure, comes as anything new. In 1972 film critic Pauline Kael famously said: "I don't know how Richard Nixon could have won. I don't know anybody who voted for him." Over a decade later, E.L. Doctorow observed of Reagan-era America that "something poisonous has been set loose in the last several years ... something that is really rotten in America right now." During the 1990s, it was the Republicans' turn, as commentators on the right bemoaned the moral failings of an America that refused to demand the ouster of its philandering president. There is a word for this sort of condescension, and it isn't fear, concern, or anxiety about the impulses of Middle America. It is anti-Americanism.
Neatly summarizing the views of this "reality-based community," Kerry volunteer Jessica Johnson of Cambridge, Massachusetts told The Boston Globe: "Many Americans have nothing between their ears. Americans are fat, lazy, and stupid. I don't like this country anymore."

If this is what passes for rational discourse on the left--and for too many liberals these days, it is--then just who is it that belongs to the "reality-based community" and just who is it that suffers under the weight of what the left used to call "false consciousness"? The question merits an answer, since Wills and otherwise sensible voices on the left--such as The Washington Post's E.J. Dionne, who professes himself "alarmed that so many of our fellow citizens could look the other way and not hold Bush accountable for utter incompetence in Iraq" and "amazed that a majority was not concerned about heaping a huge debt burden on our children just to give large tax breaks to the rich"--see their task as raising the level of consciousness of Americans out of step with reality. But what if their own estrangement leads not to insight, but rather to blindness and, more important, to separation from the very Americans they mean to influence?
Despite what the "reality-based" community thinks, Americans are not stupid. The rejection of the Democrats in the latest elections did not have to do with the fact that Americans did not understand what the Democrats were proposing; in fact they understood very well. What the Democrats don't seem to understand is that replaying tried and failed ideas from the '60s is not what people want. In every election of the past 30 years, with the exception of Clinton, the Democratic candidate has put forward a populist agenda - or at least rhetoric. And every time they were rejected. Perhaps its time for them to learn from their defeats.
|| Nudnik 2:58 PM
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