[Introduction]: American liberals accuse their conservative counterparts of atavism, but they themselves are equally guilty--if not guiltier--of eying an imaginary past. Because their program is untethered from the history and reality of the actual United States, a vapid, vacuous series of exhortations to the better angels of our nature without the slightest attempt to grapple with the real actions of our country over the past centuries, they propose it as a reinvigoration or restoration of a peaceable, humanitarian, democratic tradition that never in fact existed. As partisans, it's understandable that they would want to exculpate their own political and intellectual forebears. Likewise, it's easy to see why the myth of a Just America plays so heavily in their rhetorical contortions. I'll make the point again: all politics is conservative in the sense that it seeks to fulfill the promise of an heroic past. The impediment is that the past wasn't heroic, but that's never stopped anyone.
[Succinct and poignant Analysis]
[Conclusion]:What accounts for this deliberate blindness? Is it intellectual laziness? Is it political "tribalism," to use Arthur Silber's going term? To a degree. More substantially, it's blindness motivated by moral and intellectual cowardice. If, after all, President Bush is the continuation of an historic trend; if present policies are the apotheoses of past practices; then the complete hollowness of choosing Obama over Clinton over Edwards becomes readily apparent. The bankruptcy of investing time and energy in people who will do nothing to change the fundamental principles of the American empire because they are products of the empire becomes evident. If, however, that were the case, then one would be less inclined to imagine himself vaguely as a revolutionary for the courage of pulling a democratic lever in a curtained-off little room. He would first have to confront his sundry importance. His dispensibility. His irrelevance. He would then have to confront what it means to be one more disposable body in a vast military and mercantile empire. He would have to see that the only real politics are a more radical politics than he is willing to entertain, and he would have to admit that if change comes, it will not come within his lifetime. The principle here is Copernican. To understand your actual place, you must first discover that you're not at the center, and then discover that you are very, very small. There's a different kind of power in that knowledge than in the delusion of grandness and centrality. But it isn't a power that bears quadrennial rewards of falling balloons and butterflies on inauguration day.