Ron Radosh is on a roll over at his blog at Pajamas Media. He’s nailed it with his last three posts.
Let’s start with the most recent and work our way back.
First, yesterday Ron published, “TNR and the Crisis of The American Intellectual: Can the Old Liberal Stalwart Play a Role in Today’s World?” which takes the occasion of a new editor at The New Republic to analyze the decline of both the publication and the liberal public intellectual.
And this brings me back to TNR and its potential role in the future. As good and necessary as the American Euston Manifesto is, the advocates of the old progressive and liberal model have to move in new directions — such as those suggested in Mead’s brilliant essay. Are Richard Just and the other TNR editors prepared to acknowledge that the old so-called progressive Left is neither progressive or “left,” but instead utterly reactionary?
My answer: No. At least not until more within the Conservative Movement can start transcending the image problem we have and start articulating a free market message more in the messianic, revolutionary style of Howard Bloom’s The Genius of the Beast: A Radical Re-Vision of Capitalism. Only then can more center-left, old fashion liberal intellectuals be lured away from the reactionary Left.
Second, on Wednesday Ron took on someone we’ve certainly had our problems with here at NRB. “Why the ‘No Labels’ Movement Will Fail”:
As Galston and Frum write, they believe that “the center has collapsed, and ideological overlap between the parties has vanished.” The Republicans in their eyes are too far to the right, and the Democrats too far to the left. As they explain, “Although 30 percent of grass-roots Republicans consider themselves moderate or liberal, and 60 percent of Democrats consider themselves moderate or conservative, their voices are muted in the nation’s capital. As increasingly polarized media feed centrifugal forces, potential primary challengers stand ready to punish deviation from party orthodoxies. Only 22 percent of the Pew respondents thought that cooperation was likely to happen under these circumstances.”
What they clearly want, but shy away from saying, is a new centrist party to emerge from the heart of both the Democratic and Republican Parties. I should note that this was once my hope as well. In a book I wrote in 1996 about the left-wing takeover of the Democratic Party, I concluded with these words:
“The Democratic Party as a whole has shifted to the Left, precisely at the moment when the Republican Party has shifted toward the Right. That means that the old political Center has eroded once and for all — a fact that has led many Americans to hope for the creation of a new political party of the Center, the kind that might be led by the likes of Bill Bradley, Colin Powell or Sam Nunn.”
At the time, I considered myself a center-right Democrat, much like Bill Galston is today. Therefore I hoped for the creation of a new “political realignment” that would create a force for “fiscal and personal responsibility, cultural conservatism, and a more limited and constrained social safety net.”
Now, I consider myself a moderate conservative, and, as I argued in a previous blog post, many of the moderate Democrats are in fact asserting the viability and correctness of conservative programs, which is why I argued that perhaps Democrats like Galston and Ed Koch might consider becoming Republicans. Then they might have more of a chance to gain support for the solutions they favor to today’s problems. Their arguments are really conservative solutions and far from those favored by most Democrats. By joining the Republican Party, they could help make it more of a big-tent party, not a party shifting too far to the right.
On the Next Page: the truth about “Centrism.”