Animadversions.

The weblog of Joshua Drescher

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Inevitability.

September 6th, 2006 · No Comments · Politics, Rants

I’ll admit it. I was searching YouTube for Rush Limbaugh video clips (one of which will show up later tonight when my del.icio.us links post).

In the process, I came across this old gem - from the moments JUST prior to Limbaugh’s emergence onto the national stage. WAAAAY back in 1990, Pat Sajak apparently had a talk show that allowed for really odd guest-hosts. Limbaugh gets tapped to sit in and a group of liberal hecklers get into the audience and hassle him so thoroughly that Limbaugh is forced to remove the entire audience in order to finish the broadcast.

I dislike Limbaugh’s politics but have always enjoyed him as a performer. As such, a few unimportant, but noteworthy “credit where credit is due” comments before I move on:

1) Rush is in MUCH better shape these days, as near as I can tell. He must’ve dropped at least a hundred pounds and gotten a decent haircut.
2) He responded well to the abuse. It’s interesting to compare his relative coolness in the face of dissent to his modern cohorts like O’Reilly, who would almost certainly have just shouted over any protest.
3) The majority of the audience was on Rush’s side and they revelled in the ability to applaud him and lash out at the hecklers near the end.

Okay, so #3 isn’t ACTUALLY unimportant. In fact, it tells a very important story, told in a few short moments - a story that predicts the trajectory of American politics from 1992 until today.

A brief precis of the context:

In 1990, a law was passed in Idaho that would essentially criminalize the use of abortion as birth control. Governor Cecil Andrus vetoed it, as Limbaugh notes at the beginning of the video. The liberal activists in the audience applaud and later threaten to hound Limbaugh forever for (we assume) his pro-life stance. They seem to believe that they have momentum and that this one victory is necessarily going to mean more and more similar victories until, in short order, their position on such things will simply have “won.”

Their confidence is curious. It’s a confidence *I* felt as a Democrat, way back when. Of course, we all know that - in 1994 - Limbaugh’s view won BIG. Many people credit Limbaugh specifically for helping to usher the advanced forces of the modern neoconservative movement into the Congress. There is no arguing that conservatives in America have done little but gain power in the years since.

So… what was up with the confidence?

There is a sense amongst liberals that their position is somehow destined for eventual success. Even today, in the face of a decade and a half of increasingly severe trouncings at the hands of conservatives, there is a belief that what they stand for is unavoidably - INEVITABLY - going to prevail.

Watching that video, I had to wonder. Would those activists - some 16 years ago (more than HALF of my lifetime in the past) - have predicted that in 2006 Rush Limbaugh’s ideology would reign utterly supreme? That in four short years, Republicans would sweep into power in Congress and hold it for over a decade? That abortion rights, gay rights, women’s rights, the minimum wage, affirmative action and on and on and on would be MORE in danger than they were in 1990? That socialized healthcare would have failed before it even got started? That religious extremism would dominate the cultural landscape?

Could a liberal activist sixteen years ago have predicted a version of our world today where effectively EVERY position they stood for was weaker in 2006 than it was in 1990? Would a civil rights activist from the late 1960s have predicted that minorities would still be treated like… well… minorities nearly half a century after men like Martin Luther King gave their lives for the cause of equality?

I am sorely tempted to say “no.”

Which, of course, makes me wonder about the giddy reaction of liberals currently. We’re a handful of weeks out from a midterm election where Democrats expect to retake the House and (on their slightly more optimistic days) the Senate. Never mind the fact that it’s taken a full-blown Evil War to even grant them POTENTIAL traction with American voters, VICTORY is on the march. Many of my liberal friends are already acting like they’ve won.

Be VERY clear on one thing: A Democratic victory in November means almost nothing in terms of ANY issue except for The War. NOTHING.

The War is a VERY big issue. It is immensely important and - if they bring The War to an end quickly without demolishing the Middle East in the process - the Democrats deserve some credit. But rest assured that as soon as The War is off America’s radar, the Democrats will be right back in hot water.

The Liberal position is NOT destined to succeed. The march of human history is not necessarily aimed at the rule of reason or the fair exercise of tolerance, understanding or compassion. The Liberal position is not doomed to fail either, but simply relying on people “coming around” to their way of thinking will never work long-term.

I think that - in many cases - the Left is misreading the tea leaves regarding November, believing victory is a mandate. If they manage to win in the mid-term elections, Democrats would be well-served to consider their counterparts from a generation ago and to recognize that THEIR ideas are still a minority position.

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