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August 26, 2011

Obama Is the Left's Chicxulub

I read a book years ago by James Lawrence Powell called Night Comes to the Cretaceous. It dealt with the competing theories regarding the extinction of the dinosaurs 65 million years ago. In short, the Chicxulub asteroid impact theory was not immediately accepted. And, indeed, it still has not been accepted by a few. It appears that geologists like to think volcanoes cause everything under the sun and are resentful when physicists like Luis and Walter Alvarez set them straight. Anyway. It was an interesting book for that discussion, but it was even better for what it said about the evolution of science generally.

To illustrate his point about how science evolves, the author used the long-running debate regarding the revolutionary theory of plate techtonics--the theory that the Earth's crust drifts on top of the next layer, the mantle, in seven or eight gigantic plates. When Alfred Wegener first proposed the theory, it was ridiculed. Many years later, when it was generally accepted, it had far-ranging consequences for many different scientific disciplines.

Powell's point was that there was not some magical "aha!" moment when everybody suddenly changed their minds, despite the considerable evidence that accumulated quickly. Instead, the process was slow. The most important factor was that proponents of competing theories died off. His point was that sometimes competing theories do not die out until their proponents die out, and it was the recognized leaders the field who offered the most resistence. These were people who had staked their entire careers on a certain way of viewing things and who were not about to just let it go and admit they were wrong.

Big-government nanny-statism is similar in this respect. Those who are heavily staked in its success will never just "see the light," no matter how much evidence accumulates right in front of their faces. They have spent their lives and careers with the firm conviction that the anointed few can and should be running things for others. (And, of course, they regard themselves as members of the class of The Anointed.) They will continue to fight and push their brand of statism as long as they can. Failing to do so would be to admit error and to allow a deep narcissistic wounding. And because of this investment, they would sooner bring down whatever institution they belong to or represent--whether a news organization, a government agency like the DoE or the EPA, a business or corporation like NPR, or a special interest group--than abandon those religiously held views.

There are many examples. A while back, Ace quoted from an essay by Daniel Greenfield who was critical of ABC's decision to hire Christiane Amanpour:

Her hiring is only the latest manifestation of a media that is too radicalized to save itself. Bringing in a personality from the sinking ship that is CNN was obviously a bad idea on commercial grounds alone. Amanpour left CNN, for the same reason that Campbell Brown did. And ABC News taking Amanpour in, demonstrates that they share CNN's bad judgment.
. . .
Lenin called on Communists to seize the telegraph offices, telephone stations and post offices in order to control the means of communication. The American left has seized the means of cultural communication, hijacking the media, the educational system and entertainment, and turning them into vehicles for their brand of political indoctrination. And they've managed to badly devalue all three. The American educational system is a shell of what it used to be, the media is imploding and the entertainment industry keeps hitting new lows. Just as in the USSR and Venezuela and everywhere else, what the radical left controls, it also destroys.

(Emphasis added.) Another quick example would be the "No Pressure 10:10" environmental video short, the one that had people exploding in a bloody mess if they didn't wholeheartedly adopt reduced carbon emissions dogma. The makers of that short were completely caught off guard by the negative reaction it generated. They were attempting to increase awareness of what they regard as anthropogenic climate change. Instead, they only increased negative feeling toward their organization and disregard for their point.

There won't be a point when liberals suddenly change their minds about big government, no matter what evidence appears before their eyes. Think of all the left-leaning, high-tax, big-regulation, big-government states and countries that are suffering right now. In fact, one would think Obama would be somewhat of a catalyst. He has been busily creating a better, more effective case for smaller government than conservatives could have on their own--and more quickly.

Although Obama is the left's asteroid, as with Chicxulub, he will not become their "aha!" moment. As we have seen, there are rarely such moments--even when something as clear as a strike by a six mile wide asteroid is revealed. As in the case of the opponents of plate tectonics, the proponents of big government will slowly die out as the evidence accumulates. That's my statement of faith, anyway. In the short term, cultural inertia, not mere stubbornness, and the philosophical momentum behind socialism is enough for it to weather even Barack Obama's failure.

It'll be the president's problem or the messaging or the packaging, not the philosophy. Never the philosophy. But maybe over time newer generations with less of a stake in big-governmentism will see the Obama failure and move away from it.

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posted by rdbrewer at 10:38 AM

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