We owe a lot to the American Left. As Michael Barone notes in this simply superb piece (hat tip to deacon at Power Line), it was largely the liberal segment of society that brought forth much-needed change when racism was rampant and openly practiced, when the safety of workers was of minor import, and when a world-wide depression had forced millions into the depths of poverty and despair. It is a noble legacy, but one that is fading fast.
The 'change agents' of the 20th century have become the entrenched interests of the 21st. On almost every meaningful policy level, the 'Progressives' are seeking to impede progress. The dream of a colorblind society has given way to a permanent industry of victimhood. The formerly mighty voices of feminism lay dormant when one of their own took sexual advantage of an intern barely out of her teens in the White House itself, and the only cause that still fires up the feminist ranks is the absolute right to terminate the life of an unborn child. The fight to ensure that workers are able to work in a dignified, safe environment has mutated into a blind hatred of the large corporation. We have a President with the nerve to touch the 'third rail' and seek a long-term solution to Social Security, while the Left denies the very crisis it warned of for so long. Most importantly, President Bush is making a genuine, long-term effort to bring peace and democracy to that most troublesome of regions, the Middle East, and the liberal intelligentsia pretends to think we are engaging in 'imperialism'.
The future of the Democratic Party in America is very much in doubt, if this path remains the preferred route of the Left. We know what they are against: any use of America' s military that is not blessed by the French, fundamentalists or people of moderate faith, anyone who doesn't live in Hollywood or New York, and a President who believes in American exceptionalism (as does the whole word, though often loath to admit it). What are they for, exactly? A party that defines itself in opposition to another is fated to remain forever in the minority. To compete on a national level, the Left must present a vision of the future to Americans - and more importantly, one that is not dependent on the goodwill of the United Nations.