How the Left Dodges Personal Responsibility

Republicans have a problem in a candidate who will not win the nomination–Donald Trump. Democrats have a problem in a candidate widely expected to win their nomination–Hillary Clinton. This reality worries Democrats, because Clinton continues to run an embarrassingly opaque and inept campaign. Ron Fournier in National Journal writes a brutal plea to Clinton, laying the embarrassing elements of her bumbling campaign at her feet.

“We can’t make it any plainer,” Fournier writes. “You’re the problem, Hillary.”

Interestingly; amid falling poll numbers and a general worry among Democrats that Mrs. Clinton lacks the liberal credentials or ethical principals of her longshot rival, Bernie Sanders; Clinton rejects Fournier’s assertion, blaming her political misfortunes on institutional discrimination. Nowhere can Clinton’s reticence to accept responsibility for her perception be more visible than in her CNN interview with Brianna Keilar. Fournier remarks on Clinton’s interview, calling it cringeworthy.

Keilar asks, “We see in our recent poll that nearly six in 10 Americans say they don’t believe that you’re honest and trustworthy. Do you understand why they feel that way?”

Clinton bristles and blames Republicans for this “misperception.”

“I think when you are subjected to the kind of constant barrage of attacks that are largely fomented by and coming from the Right…”

Keilar interrupts, pushing further.

“Do you bear any responsibility for that,” Keilar asks. At this, Clinton tries to pivot and talk about her election history and her current commitment to fight for “everyday people” (as opposed to us every other day people), but Keilar heroically refuses to give up.

“Trusting someone to fight for them,” she says, “and trusting someone, these are two different things. Do you see any role that you’ve had in the sentiment that we’ve seen, where people are questioning whether you’re trustworthy?”

Clinton denies her contribution to her own negative ratings three times before the cock crows. This time, blaming the media.

“I can only tell you, Brianna, that this has been a theme that has been used against me and my husband for many, many years…I mean, people write books filled with unsubstantiated attacks against us…But of course, it’s your job to cover it. So of course that’s going to raise questions in people’s minds.”

Keilar does a good job at pushing Clinton on the issue of trust, making the interview more difficult for Clinton supporters, like Fournier, to stomach. For me, a conservative, Clinton’s answers point to a destructive liberal tendency–an inability or unwillingness to self-critique, and to, instead, blame structures for personal failings or poor outcomes. To Fournier’s credit, he recognizes this tendency as it pertains to Mrs. Clinton.

“You’ve made some poor choices,” he writes, “and, rather than fix them, you blamed the GOP and the media. You wouldn’t let Chelsea say the dog ate her homework, so why do you think this is a good idea?”

In truth, this strategy of blaming structures rather than individuals characterizes the liberal mindset. Blacks, according to liberals, face longer prison sentences and troubles with law enforcement not because of personal decisions to commit crimes, but because of a structural deficiency with the American legal system. Women make lower wages than men, not because they tend to enter the workforce later than men and interrupt their work life to meet other demands, but because, says the liberal, a sexist system discriminates against women. Poverty cannot be explained by bad personal choices; like failure to graduate high school, parenting children out of wedlock or drug or alcohol dependence; but rather, poverty emanates from the structural deficiencies of our capitalist economic system.

On issue after issue, liberals tell their constituents that “the dog ate their homework.” After a while of these excuses, the student fails the class. This terrifies the left about Clinton, and it is my hope that their fears are actualized.

America Untethered

“For the first time in my 72 years, I have no idea what’s going on,” writes Pulitzer Prize winning writer, Henry Allen, in the Wall Street Journal. “We are all outsiders with no inside to be outside of…What a strange time it is to be alive in America.”

What a strange time indeed.

Since President Barack Obama and the Democrats committed to “fundamentally transforming the United States of America,” Americans find themselves increasingly perplexed by events–untethered to the immutable, reliable reality of life in an ordered society. Police are the enemy. Marijuana is legal. Marriage is redefined. Iran is a negotiating partner.

What’s happened?

The American Left increasingly exchanges its championship of liberal virtues for support of the avant garde. Ronald Brownstein and Libby Isenstein of National Journal provide a series of charts showing how the Democrat Party has realigned politically while the Republican Party changed much more modestly. These charts, sourced with data gathered in Pew Research Center surveys, show that the percentage of Democrats self identifying as “very liberal” has dramatically increased since 1996. On some issues, too, Democrats have “evolved” more substantially than the general public.

Judging by Obama’s drive to normalize relations with Cuba and to broker a nuclear deal with Iran, there appears no slowing of the Democrats’ trend.

This helps make the 2016 election so crucial.

Fred Barnes, executive editor of the Weekly Standard, makes this very case.

“The importance of a presidential election depends on what’s at stake…Now…the stakes are even higher than 36 years ago. Not only is the economy unsteady but threats to American power and influence around the world are more pronounced and widespread.”

Barnes’ assertion rings true. But how does it connect to Democrats’ unmooring America from once accepted social norms and order? The answer rests in the courts–specifically, the Supreme Court.

“Four justices are 76 or older. Two…are liberals. Antonin Scalia (79) is a conservative. And Anthony Kennedy (78) is a swing vote.”

Control of the Supreme Court affects lower court rulings and much of America’s character for generations. Liberals understand this and cheer whenever their agenda is codified by courts. The implications of these decisions will outlast us–and likely our offspring as well.

Unfortunately, pundits deem every election “The Most Important Election in the Entire History of Civilization.” Americans, myself included, tire of the superlative and consider it nothing more than talking heads crying wolf. Considering the Democrat Party’s sharp leftward turn, though, there is something to be said about using the 2016 election to take stock of where we are, where we came from, and where we want to go, before these changes are cast in stone by a liberal Supreme Court.

A Republican president elected in 2016 will likely preside over the retirements of justices Ginsburg, Scalia, Kennedy, and Breyer. With a friendly Congress, these judges could be replaced with strong conservatives. At the end of one term, Justice Thomas will reach 70 years old and Alito will be 69, granting the next president the opportunity to replace six Supreme Court justices.

On the other hand, a Democratic president could do the same, if he/she enters the White House in 2016, leaving us to collectively ponder the rest Allen’s quote:

“I worry that reality itself is fading like the Cheshire cat, leaving behind only a smile that grows ever more alarming.”