The ghouls at Daily Kos couldn’t help themselves once again, with one of the most arrogant responses to the death of Ronald Reagan one could imagine. This is exactly why the left’s claims to be egalitarian and populist have always been façades behind a reactionary and arrogant ideology:
Ronald Reagan died today at the age of 93. He earned the enmity of many of us on the left through his dismantling of the New Deal and enabling of a culture of greed — but we should not forget that he was once one of us, an FDR Democrat.
And here we have the reason why Reagan became a conservative – the arrogant presumption that keeping what you earn is "greed" – that the government has the right to take what they want when they want, and to suppose otherwise is somehow immoral.
His journey to the far right mirrored a similar, if less dramatic, shift that occured in the general American psyche. And while Reagan cannot be excused for his utter failure as president, we must never see him solely as a symbol of a shameful era — because his rise was attributable in part to an inertia and lack of vision that gripped our predecessors on the left. It was in part our inability to satisfy the hunger of Americans for positive leadership that caused Reagan and other former liberals to embrace a radical ideology that was before only espoused by crackpots and the prophets of selfishness.
As Reagan was so fond of saying, "here they go again"
The left always presupposes that their failures were because the American people were just too stupid or too brainwashed to know that they were right. It isn’t that the American people firmly rejected the moral nihilism and economic devastation of the Carter administration, it’s that the left just didn’t do a good enough job of showing how superior they were. Anyone who believes otherwise – why they were "crackpots and the prophets of selfishness". This is what "Trapper John" calls "positive leadership?"
So while we rightly condemned Reagan for his extremism and hostility to the egalitarian ideals of his youth, perhaps we should take this occasion not only to remember Reagan’s failings, but also to reflect upon the failings of the left that allowed the ascension of the extreme right. We’ve learned a lot about how to talk with the American people over the past few years, and we’ve reclaimed the fighting spirit that has characterized the best of the left through American history — let’s never again allow ourselves to become so self-satisfied that we allow another Reagan to capture the hearts of everyday Americans. And let us remember that in spite of his many faults, he was a human being, and his family is entitled to an appropriate level of decorum in their time of loss.
And this piece, attempting to slander Reagan and his legacy, is a violation of that decorum. It is simply ghoulish.
This is why I cannot reconcile myself to the concept that many on the left are good people at heart. They cannot simply mark the passing of a great man, they have to destroy him before his body has even been laid to rest. They must slander him, they must attack him, and they must insult him. Already the ghouls at Kos have already argued that he was wrong for cutting taxes, that he really didn’t cut taxes, and that they shouldn’t give the "wingers" fuel by gloating over his death. "Trapper John" may play lip service to the concept of decorum, but the hate inherent in his words remains clear.
Is this what the left has become? Such unbridled hatred with a thin veneer of civility only so the rest of the world won’t be disgusted by what they really want to say? Can they not even so much as wait until President Reagan has been laid to rest before they insult him and his legacy?
This is why Reagan was such a great man. He recognized in his writings and in his speeches that the kind of socialism in the guise of "liberalism" he fought against was essentially a negative ideology. It was an ideology that said without government you are nothing. Government feeds you, government clothes you, government educates you. Government is the benevolent master and you are to be the acquiescent slave — essentially the paternal feudalism of the state. You were greedy and self-centered if you demanded that they money you earned be kept — after all, without the paternal hand of government you would obviously be nothing.
This is exactly the ideology that Reagan eloquently rejects in A Time for Choosing. He understood better than most that when we allow government to become our paternal master we lose the freedom that this country was founded upon. His vision was not of an America that was beholden to some elite in Washington to make decisions — his vision of America was the vision of Tocqueville — the American spirit of self-reliance, individualism, hard work, determination, patriotism, and freedom. He fought for those values.
While he may have gone on to something greater, we here must continue to fight for those values as well. Reagan’s deep and abiding faith in the American people is a model for us all. He believed that the people, not the government, where what made this country great. He believed that freedom and liberty were not arbitrary constructions for the few, but the gift of God to his creation, an innate part of the human condition. His message was a positive one: we can do what’s right, and we don’t need some elite in Washington telling us the difference between right and wrong. His faith was in the people, and it reflects in the way he is remembered as the Great Communicator, a uniquely American icon.
At our time of choosing, we must renew our commitment to the path he set, and know that the small and arrogant members of the left are just as they were in his day: firmly on the wrong side of history.
UPDATE: Over at Eschaton, they’re trying to argue that Reagan wasn’t a popular President, that Clinton was more popular, etc.
Ghoulish and disgusting. Again, is this what the left has become?