I want to bring in something I read on Monday to show you how closely aligned the progressives of today are with Dewey. They are, after all, his ideological children and grandchildren, and they were trained and educated according to the principles laid down by Dewey and his acolytes. You see the same ideas repeated from Hegel to Dewey to the Democrats of today.
David Horowitz is a Red-diaper baby who, although his parents had been disillusioned about communism upon learning of Stalin’s atrocities, co-founded the New Left, convinced that he and his cohorts would be able to succeed in bringing a socialist heaven to earth. When his friend Betty Van Patter was murdered, his disillusionment and repudiation of Leftist politics was deep and lasting. Since then he has become one of the most incisive and discerning writers about the Progressive Left because he was once one of them. Power Line has published his new pamphlet, “Go For the Heart: How Republicans Can Win.” (via Robert Avrech of Seraphic Secret).
Republicans and Democrats are not similar people who make opposite judg- ments about common problems and their solutions—spending is good, tax hikes are bad. Republicans and Democrats approach politics with fundamentally different visions of what politics is about. These visions color not only the way each side thinks about questions of policy, but how they enter the arena to face their opponents.
The Democratic Party is no longer the party of John F. Kennedy…It is now a party led by socialists and progressives who are convinced that their policies are paving the way to a “better world.”
This vision of moral and social progress has profound consequences for the way Democrats conduct their political battles. Unlike Republicans, Democrats are not in politics just to fix government and solve problems. They are secular mission- aries who want to “change society.” Their goal is a new order of society— “social justice.” They think of themselves as social redeemers, people who are going to change the world. It is the belief in a redemptive future that accounts for their passion, and their furious personal assaults on those who stand in their way….
…Progressives are not in politics to tinker with the existing system, although they understand that tinkering and fixing problems along the way gets votes. They are in politics to achieve “social justice” – to transform the system and the way Americans live.
Why do progressives not see that the future they are promoting – with its socialist “solutions” – has already failed elsewhere, and particularly in Europe? Because in their eyes the future is an idea that hasn’t been tried. If socialism has failed in Europe it’s because they weren’t in charge to implement it and there wasn’t enough money to fund it.
It is the very grandeur of the progressive ambition that makes its believers so zealous in pursuing it. Through government programs they are going to make everyone equal and take care of everyone in need. They are going to establish social equality and create social justice. It is an intoxicating view and it explains why and how they are different from conservatives….Everything Democrats do and every campaign they conduct is about mobilizing their political armies to bring about this glorious future, about advancing its agendas one program and one candidate at a time….
I agree with Horowitz’ diagnosis. Robert Reilly said some similar things ideas in a column he wrote in winter 2012, Romney’s Businessman Pitch Won’t Work, regarding Romney’s idea that “Washington is a management problem.”
This is a profoundly mistaken Republican notion that goes back at least to Herbert Hoover…all struggled with what Bush 41 famously called the “vision thing.” Time and again, they’ve been defeated by Democrats proclaiming such things as the New Deal, the Fair Deal, the New Frontier, the Great Society, and “hope and change.”
The Great Communicator Ronald Reagan, who spoke mostly in moral terms, was the magnificent exception. He understood that Washington is not a management problem; it is a political problem. Everything the government does is necessarily political, because governments decide not only who gets what, but why. These choices define a candidate’s politics, but they must be conceived and expressed in terms of moral priorities.
Political language is inherently moral, not managerial. It must convey visions, not just plans. It must explain why some things are good and others bad.
Instincts are never enough. You need to have thought about politics in the philosophical sense to know what is going on….
If you cannot articulate the cause for which you are fighting in moral terms, you will lose.
This is one reason why I believe Breitbart’s idea of targeting the culture is not enough and is only a secondary solution to secondary problems. Culture may be upstream from politics, but it’s not the headwaters. Horowitz exclaims that “…the moral outrage is missing.” If I understand Horowitz correctly, he’s not saying ignore the mind and go for the emotions, he’s saying rip off the mask that progressives wear and show how they use and abuse people for their own ends. This is an application of Russell Kirk— “At heart, all political problems are moral and religious problems.“
Horowitz closes with:
Because Democrats regard politics as war conducted by other means, they seek to demonize and destroy their opponents as the enemies of progress, of social justice and minority rights. Republicans can only counter these attacks by turning the Democrats’ guns around — by exposing them as the enforcers of injustice, particularly to minorities and the poor, the exploiters of society’s vulnerable and the reactionary proponents of policies that have proven bankrupt and destructive all over the world.
Make sure you read all that he has to say in “Go For the Heart: How Republicans Can Win at his Go For The Heart site.
David Horowitz speaking at CPAC in Washington D.C. on February 12, 2011 by Gage Skidmore. Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.