Downward Mobility and the Welfare State

I’m loath to attribute liberalism to the downward spiral of civilization and a purposeful rise in the welfare state. No one, I repeat, no one can possibly ascribe to an ideology that is predicated on the complete collapse of civil society.

So, what is it? Why does liberalism and it’s kindred cousin, Marxism, continue to pursue policies that seem to work against their own interests and that of society at large? Why is there such a lurch to accept government-run programs that seem to reinforce bad choices on the part of its beneficiaries?

A recent article by Russ Douthat of NY Times suggests that liberals are just now beginning to examine what the effects of their policies really are.

WINNING an election doesn’t just offer the chance to govern the country. It offers a chance to feel morally and intellectually superior to the party you’ve just beaten. This is an inescapable aspect of democratic culture: no matter what reason tells us about the vagaries of politics, something in the American subconscious assumes that the voice of the people really is the voice of God, and that being part of a winning coalition must be a sign that you’re His chosen one as well.

This means the losing coalition must be doomed to wander east of Eden, and liberals have been having a good time with this idea of late. “Those poor, benighted Republicans!” runs the subtext of their post-election commentary. “They can’t read polls! They can’t reach Hispanics! They don’t understand women! They don’t have a team of Silicon Valley sorcerers running their turnout operations!”

Douthat is venturing into territory that liberals have traditionally been unwilling to venture into: post-election reality. Douthat continues:

Liberals look at the Obama majority and see a coalition bound together by enlightened values — reason rather than superstition, tolerance rather than bigotry, equality rather than hierarchy. But it’s just as easy to see a coalition created by social disintegration and unified by economic fear.

Are we witnessing an honest assessment of the consequences of Obama’s re-election? Is that even possible among the liberal media?

Consider the Hispanic vote. Are Democrats winning Hispanics because they put forward a more welcoming face than Republicans do — one more in keeping with America’s tradition of assimilating migrants yearning to breathe free? Yes, up to a point. But they’re also winning recent immigrants because those immigrants often aren’t assimilating successfully — or worse, are assimilating downward, thanks to rising out-of-wedlock birthrates and high dropout rates. The Democratic edge among Hispanics depends heavily on these darker trends: the weaker that families and communities are, the more necessary government support inevitably seems.

Likewise with the growing number of unmarried Americans, especially unmarried women. Yes, social issues like abortion help explain why these voters lean Democratic. But the more important explanation is that single life is generally more insecure and chaotic than married life, and single life with children — which is now commonplace for women under 30 — is almost impossible to navigate without the support the welfare state provides.

Or consider the secular vote, which has been growing swiftly and tilts heavily toward Democrats. The liberal image of a non-churchgoing American is probably the “spiritual but not religious” seeker, or the bright young atheist reading Richard Dawkins. But the typical unchurched American is just as often an underemployed working-class man, whose secularism is less an intellectual choice than a symptom of his disconnection from community in general.

I strongly suggest reading the whole thing. Moderate Republicans are incapable of articulating conservative ideals. Likewise, they are incapable of any attempt at self-reflection to examine the consequences of their acquiescence to liberal ideology. At least Russ Douthat is doing some serious thinking.

Hat tip: Legal Insurrection