Sunday, February 21, 2010

Questioning 'The Narrative'

A super big thanks goes out to my good friend Grizzly Mama.

After reading last night's piece, "Leftists Are Liars, and I'll Show You...," she suggested that I head over to her "beloved" Weekly Standard to read Jeffrey Bergner's, "Can Republicans Govern? Not unless they change The Narrative." And wow! This is a phenomenal piece. The Narrative is the ideological construction of an ineluctable progress towards full equality in the U.S., and to challenge that project is to open oneself up to the most vicious attacks of "racism," "sexism," and "homophobia." Bergner argues that The Narrative is a bipartisan project, and Republicans in fact need to think outside of that box if they're going have any hope of not only governing, but in providing a sustainable governing vision for the future.

a beefy article, but worth your time. With that in mind, enjoy these passages as an appetizer:
From time to time individuals break out of The Narrative. Leading radio talk show hosts do this, rhetorically, and are subjected to vicious personal attacks for their trouble. This is because The Narrative denies any legitimacy to a genuinely different point of view; any such view has been predefined as backward, regressive, self-interested, and evil. There can be no reasonable debate with opponents of The Narrative. When opponents, or even mere skeptics, question not just one or another policy notion but the story itself, the political left goes into overdrive. The entire machine is activated—political progressives, left-wing bloggers, the mainstream media, academics, late night TV hosts, and the arts community all descend with fury to attack the intelligence, the background, and the character of anyone who questions The Narrative. To question The Narrative is to question the self-ascribed virtue of the left ....

Judging by its rhetoric, the left seems singularly threatened by Sarah Palin, but they can’t explain why. Because she’s attractive? So are most politicians, including the current president. Because she’s from Alaska? So are Ted Stevens and Lisa Murkowski. Because she lacks “experience”? So do lots of politicians, including the current president. Does anyone imagine that a few more years of “experience” will cause Sarah Palin’s critics to warm up to her? The left simply cannot supply a convincing rationale for its own mania. That a wife and mother is successful in public life and is also a conservative, populist reformer should not be possible. A political reformer opposed to the expansion of the federal government should be a contradiction in terms. Sarah Palin can undo by her simple existence every stereotype of the left’s Narrative. This creates a visceral threat. It cannot be permitted, or even laughed off—she must be destroyed. The threat to The Narrative is what provokes the name-calling and bizarrely substance-free personal attacks that have flowed relentlessly from Palin’s critics.

What if Republicans took back the House in 2010? Or, to enlarge the fantasy, what if Republicans enjoyed the numerical advantage of today’s Democrats in the House and Senate? Would they actually do anything to reverse the growth of government? Republican majorities would surely strive to slow the rush to national financial ruin and rein in unsustainable deficits, and that’s all to the good. Government-imposed equality might advance more slowly. But what are the chances it would be halted or reversed? For that matter, what did Republicans do as recently as five years ago, when they controlled the House, the Senate, and the White House?

So long as Republicans are enthralled by The Narrative, they will be stuck in rearguard actions. There will be no coherent set of policies toward which Republicans aim steadily over time, such as characterizes the progressive left. There will be only the (almost endearing) Republican embarrassment about governing at all.

So Republicans must ask themselves: Are they really ready to reverse the trend of more and more Americans becoming dependent upon government? Do they really deny the working assumption that most Americans don’t know what’s best for them, and that public policy must set them straight? Are they willing to act so that initiative does not meet bureaucratic obstacles at every turn, and regulations don’t hamper every creative venture? Do they actually disdain an ideal of justice that conjures up an image of well-fed and well-tended sheep?

What if Republicans aimed at a different story altogether? What if the story of America were one in which government imposed ever less control over citizens? What if they considered every policy initiative through this lens: Does it help Americans become less, rather than more, dependent on the government? Their goal would then be to create—as best they can, and over time—a nation of self-reliant citizens, not merely “consumers” and “providers” and “practitioners” and “beneficiaries” and “recipients” and all the other less-than-fully-human descriptors of the left.

What if our national history were recast and understood in this new light? What if we reminded ourselves that it was the Republican party of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass that ended slavery and the Democratic party that dragged its feet? That it was the Republican party that pushed through women’s suffrage? That Republicans like Senator Everett Dirksen were leaders in the civil rights legislation of the 1960s? The overthrow of slavery, the enfranchisement of women, the end of segregation all empowered people vis à vis their government. And these advances in citizen empowerment were then wrongly put to the service of (seemingly well-intentioned) egalitarian programs that result not in the improvement of America’s citizenry but in their perpetual dependence?
RTWT at the link. And thanks to Grizzly Mama!


Grizzly Mama said...

Thanks for the linky, Donald! I am glad that you enjoyed the article. I had just read it - and then saw your post about how the lefties here are completely unhinged in their attacks on you. I figured it applied in this situation, and in fact it applies to many situations that I've seen recently. It's a plausible explanation for the absolutely increasingly ridiculous behavior that we've all been treated to in our dissent. The left is not at all about tolerance, and if one wasn't able to comprehend that before, surely it's becoming more obvious lately.

Good luck with your meeting with HR.