The Corner

Me On Culture Wars

In yesterday’s LA Times. I put on my David Brooks hat and criticize conservatives and liberals, but the left comes in for the biggest whacking. For example:

Meanwhile, American liberalism has grown cowardly and anti-democratic. It boldly spouts clichés about “giving power to the people,” but in reality it increasingly distrusts the people. Unable to win at the polls and unwilling to compromise on ideological objectives, liberals empower judges to fight their battles for them. Gay marriage advocates claim to favor federalism, but federalism requires that local communities democratically decide the issue. That’s what happened in a referendum in California, and yet when Mayor Gavin Newsom broke the law, the harshest criticism from gay activists was Massachusetts’ Rep. Barney Frank’s admonition that the mayor’s “timing” was bad.

We like to say that the increasingly ugly battles over judicial nominations are a sign of increasing partisanship in the culture, when in reality they are a completely rational outgrowth of the culture wars. Because from abortion to affirmative action to gay rights (all issues where the bulk of the public disagrees with elite liberal opinion), liberals have gladly ceded the unpopular choices to an imperial judiciary that is more or less immune to democratic correction. John F. Kerry says he’s against gay marriage, but does anyone doubt that he would appoint precisely the sorts of judges who rubber-stamp the practice? Indeed, speaking of America’s leading “multilateralist,” one could say that the Democratic Party’s fetishization of the United Nations, the International Criminal Court and “coalition-building” generally suggests that many liberals would like to outsource all their losing issues to undemocratic institutions and hence absolve themselves of any responsibility for unpopular policies.


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