Liberals have evidenced an extraordinary incapacity to re-evaluate their commitments. Liberals like to depict themselves are governed by reason and evidence. But political self-interest almost always governs the day.
The liberal policies which emerged from the utopian aspirations of the 1960s have played out with dystopian and inegalitarian effects. The 1960s saw a series of disastrous policy choices which, for liberals, have never merited re-examination. The rise of the welfare rights movement helped created an intergenerational urban underclass cut off from the booming economy of the 1960s. The movement for student’s rights boosted by multicultural claims to new forms of knowledge triggered the long and continuing slide in student performances which has produced the current “dumbest generation: in American history. The feminist attacks on the bourgeois family littered the landscape with lost souls looking for a shelter from the social storm. These have all produced the success of failure. The more liberals succeed in breaking down traditional institutions the more government was called on to succor the suffering and the more jobs that were created for the liberals of the helping professions..
In the last quarter century expenditures on education have doubled yet overall K-12 achievement is flat and the black/white achievement gap is as great as ever. You might think that what would follow would be a discussion of why the money has had so little effect or why family breakdown is the best predictor of school success. But even as state and city budgets are strained, attempt, to discuss educational failings are dismissed as a mean spirited attack on teachers unions in particular and activist government in general.
Reconsideration are judged out of order. As in the 1930s the only question which can be asked is “which side are you on?” Liberals it turns out are as narrowly self-interested as the meanest Mr. Podsnap standing guard over his grocery cash register.
Fred Siegel is a senior fellow of the Manhattan Institute‘s Center for State and Local Leadership, a City Journal contributing editor, and an expert on market-friendly public-policy solutions for urban governance