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Elites Gone Bad

What America needs is a better class of left-winger.

Jun 13, 2011, Vol. 16, No. 37 • By DAVID GELERNTER
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Although it’s gauche to ask, one can’t help wondering: Do the Obamacrats love America? If so, how come? Would they please be specific? 

Snobby Obama

If the answer is no, the scandal is not quite their lack of patriotism; nations have been governed decently, in ordinary times, by the lights of pure reason. If the answer is no, the scandal is mere cynical insincerity. Obama and his followers should level with the nation and themselves.

There’s nothing wrong with loving your country just because it’s yours. Perhaps Obamacrats are patriotic in this sense. But patriotic Americans on the left and right used to be proud of particulars: the principles on which the nation was founded, the heroes who created and protected it, its world-shaping achievements and relentless struggle to master its worst urges and put its best into practice. And these patriots embraced America’s traditional mission: to be the American Zion, the promised land, the leader of free nations; the city upon a hill, watched by all the world—as John Winthrop wrote, quoting the Bible, as his ship hauled towards Boston in 1630. 

But today’s left finds little to admire in American history. The new Philadelphia museum built around George Washington’s partially reconstructed home is typical in its view of Washington as, first and foremost, a slave owner. Neither of the two extraordinary accomplishments of modern America, victory in the Cold War and the all-but-eradication of race prejudice in a single generation, inspires modern Obamacrats. They rarely mention the Cold War, and they evidently regard the country as still in the grip of prejudice. In fact Rahm Emanuel, former Obama chief of staff and mayor-elect of Chicago, has endorsed the idea of compensation payments to the descendants of former slaves. Thus, America the Inexcusable—unless Emanuel’s idea of fairness is that nonperpetrators must compensate nonvictims for crimes they never suffered but would have if they had been born 200 years ago. (Probably.) No clearer evidence exists that the left, and Rahm Emanuel, are out of ideas.

Most disturbing of all, there are signs that the Obamacrats’ respect for at least one element of the American creed of liberty, equality, and democracy is slipping. The Obama administration, the Democrats in Congress, and left-leaning local players have all shown their growing dislike of democracy. And if you reject history and democracy, you leave yourself precious little to admire (much less love) in the U.S.A.

The passage of Obamacare, in the teeth of repeated public attempts (in statewide elections) to say “stop,” was a classic study in contempt for the public will. It was made complete by Speaker Pelosi’s now-famous dictum that there would be plenty of time to read the bill after it had been passed (and you had nothing else to do as you whiled away the hours waiting endlessly for the services of federalized doctors).

The EPA’s plans to override Congress’s refusal to regulate carbon emissions, the investing of HHS Pontifex Maximus Sebelius with the power to set America’s health care course under Obamacare, the Justice Department’s plan to try Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in federal court—grudgingly abandoned after more than a year of sullen official stonewalling—the president’s breezy encouragement of Brazil to drill for oil offshore while stifling America’s own deep water drilling and dismissing hard-pressed American drivers with “let them eat cake, or drive hybrids”—these all show the characteristic contempt of a would-be intellectual elite for the public. Commentators explain that the president is only playing to his left-wing base, as if that cleared him of responsibility; as if he hadn’t chosen them every bit as much as they chose him.

Sometimes Obamacrats argue that the labor costs of complying with the lava-flow of new regulations disgorged by his volcanically statist administration are merely an economic benefit in deep disguise—because they will offer American workers new jobs (as ballast to sink the economy). When they make that argument they emphasize their view of the public as not just irrelevant but stupid.

Mayor Bloomberg’s government by fiat in New York City shows the same contempt for the public will. Who but convinced supporters of boss rule could have supported the in-famous card check bill that Obama-crats pushed during the early months of the administration? (It would have abolished an employer’s right to demand a secret-ballot vote of employees being forced to recognize a union.) In Wisconsin, minority senate Democrats literally walked out on democracy. Their gesture (and that of their Indiana House members) resonates with the patronizing smugness of Obama and Reid and Holder and Pelosi and Bloomberg and NPR and Obamacrat reporters and regulators everywhere.

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