Monday, March 19, 2007

Learning nothing

This post by Jim Henley at Unqualified Offerings got me thinking: how likely is it that the present Democratic/mainstream liberal hostility to unchecked executive power, police statism, and warmongering currently on display will "take" and continue to be an influence if a Democratic administration takes power in the next election?

I raise the question because my memory of what liberals were generally like during the Clinton years makes me question the sincerity of many of the people currently railing against the evils of Bush; I suspect a lot of them would be fine with it if President Gore or President Kerry were incinerating foreigners and destroying civil liberties. As anyone who followed politics in the 90's no doubt remembers, only right-wing nuts distrust the government when Democrats are in power!

I'm extremely pessimistic. I acknowledge that people can learn from experience; I used to be a conservative. But most people generally don't seem to learn where politics is concerned; most of the conservatives who deeply distrusted the government during the Clinton years changed their tune quite quickly once Clinton was gone, despite the sharp lessons in the evils of statism provided by things like Waco. And if most conservatives didn't learn any consistency in their distrust of statism, despite being loudly antigovernment (with other elements mixed in, of course, but with antistatism being a part of the stew) throughout the 90's, it seems even less likely that liberals, members of a movement unabashedly based on faith in government, are going to remember any of their current fear and distrust of state power beyond the current administration. I firmly expect Bush's incursions on civil liberties and expansions of executive power to be at least kept and probably furthered once Democrats are in power.

I miss the old anti-government conservatives a great deal, even after more than half a decade. I will miss the state-fearing liberals, too, when they are gone.

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