Thursday, December 02, 2004

The Terror Gap

The Moose avers that the New Republic's Peter Beinart has written the Vital Center for our generation.

Over fifty years ago, Arthur Schlesinger Jr. wrote the Vital Center which was the definitive work of anti-communist progressivism. Peter Beinart, the editor of the New Republic, has performed this task for this generation of liberals. In a required reading for all Mooseketeers, Beinart has penned "A Fighting Faith, An Argument for a New Liberalism. "

The Moose has longed believed that the left, with a few notable exceptions, has unwisely ceded the cause of the war against terror to the conservatives. On both moral and political grounds, this is wrong. Morally, there is no greater threat to progressive values than radical jihadists. Politically, progressives will never be trusted with power as long as they are perceived as doves. As Beinart points out,

"On health care, gay rights, and the environment, there is a positive vision, articulated with passion. But there is little liberal passion to win the struggle against Al Qaeda--even though totalitarian Islam has killed thousands of Americans and aims to kill millions; and even though, if it gained power, its efforts to force every aspect of life into conformity with a barbaric interpretation of Islam would reign terror upon women, religious minorities, and anyone in the Muslim world with a thirst for modernity or freedom."

This following passage will undoubtedly infuriate many lefties,

"The challenge for Democrats today is not to find a different kind of presidential candidate. It is to transform the party at its grassroots so that a different kind of presidential candidate can emerge. That means abandoning the unity-at-all-costs ethos that governed American liberalism in 2004. And it requires a sustained battle to wrest the Democratic Party from the heirs of Henry Wallace. In the party today, two such heirs loom largest: Michael Moore and MoveOn."

It is sadly true that some of those who Beinart labels the "softs" on the left are more anti-Bush than they are anti-terror. Indeed, one gets the impression that some in their ranks view W. as the chief terrorist in the world - and they aren't shy about this belief. In contrast, anti-terror progressives oppose many of the Bush policies because they are not tough enough against our enemies. Beinart puts it well,

"Such a critique might seem unavailable to liberals today, given that Bush, having abandoned the Republican Party's traditional concern with balanced budgets, seems content to cut taxes and strengthen the U.S. military at the same time. But subtly, the Republican Party's dual imperatives have already begun to collide--with a stronger defense consistently losing out. Bush has not increased the size of the U.S. military since September 11--despite repeated calls from hawks in his own party--in part because, given his massive tax cuts, he simply cannot afford to. An anti-totalitarian liberalism would attack those tax cuts not merely as unfair and fiscally reckless, but, above all, as long-term threats to America's ability to wage war against fanatical Islam. Today, however, there is no liberal constituency for such an argument in a Democratic Party in which only 2 percent of delegates called "terrorism" their paramount issue and another 1 percent mentioned "defense."

Beinart's piece is bound to stimulate a heated and much needed debate in the Democratic Party. The Moose applauds Beinart for his courage, clarity and dedication to principle.


-- Posted at 3:49 PM | Link to this post | Email this post