By 1949, three years after Winston Churchill warned that an "iron curtain" had descended across Europe, Schlesinger could write in The Vital Center: "Mid-twentieth century liberalism, I believe, has thus been fundamentally reshaped ... by the exposure of the Soviet Union, and by the deepening of our knowledge of man. The consequence of this historical re-education has been an unconditional rejection of totalitarianism."This time I think the answer is no. We do have a deepening understanding of the nature of man. DeSoto in"the Mystery of Capitalism" shows that man is by nature a capitalist animal. I think this understanding is fundamental.
As much as I truly hate many of the social policies of Bush - he gets it. His "Opportunity Society" initiatives are in harmony with what we have learned from DeSoto. He wants to make everyone who is interested an owner. There is no way a society can rail against "the capitalists" if everyone is an owner.
As to confronting the fascists there is no doubt that Bush has set us on a path similar to the path Churchill suggested in 1947 with his "Iron Curtain" speech. Bush has set the path for the next 50 years at least with his "Axis of Evil" speech.
And where are our friends on the left on these issues? For all practical purposes they have excommunicated Joe Lieberman who is in line with what we now know about the nature of man. Joe is in fact for the most part unwelcome in his own party. Every time I bring Joe up with my leftist friends he gets slammed in no uncertain terms as "not a real Democrat". I think this points out that what I suggested in "the Death of Socialism" is right on track. The left is wedded to fascism as a means and socialism as an end. I think this was best explained by Hayek in "the Road to Serfdom" as the natural end of socialism.
Those great Democrats like Harry Truman, Arthur Schlesinger Jr., and Walter Reuther saved the Democrats temporarily from the slide into fascism. They for a time managed to square the circle. They struggled to keep their socialist ends without fascist means. They did the impossible. There are in this day and age no Democrats of such extrodinary ability and stature. Doing the impossible is no longer an option.
And so it looks like the Democrats have joined the other side. Their slide is slow now but inexorable. Reports after the election show that although Bush got only 52% of the vote 56% of the electorate is satisfied with the outcome.
The Democrat Party is now for all practical purposes dead. The odds of shock therapy reviving it are small. The Democrats of 1949 are a dying breed. They are not reproducing. As Zell Miller said, his principles have not changed. It is his party which has changed.
To which I'd like to add, "I'm a liberal, not a leftist". As a liberal I support Bush on the war against fascists and in his economic initiatives. I intend to fight him tooth and nail on what I call his Republican Socialism. His attempt to force his religion down our throats. His anti-gay initiatives. His drug war. His idea that sex education ought to be based on faith. I will support him on the war against fascism and the Opportunity Society. At this point in the transition in American politics I'd have to say that two out of three ain't bad. In time the middle will re-assert itself and Republican Socialism will decline. I trust America. The greatest country on the face of the earth. Those standing with Bush on the war and economics will be counted as not just the Greatest Generation but as "the Greater Generation" because we did what we had to do despite having to fight fascist lovers not only abroad but at home as well. Who stands with us now stands for all time on the side of the good against the side of evil. If you look at our numbers they are small in relation to the world. We will none the less prevail.
So again let me leave you with the new war cry of the middle, "I'm a liberal, not a leftist".