Monday, September 7, 2009

If this is life under socialism, it feels more like Germany in about 1932. The left still appears confused, uncertain, hesitant while the right is increasingly shrill and strident.

One comes to the point where one understands the limits of reform are determined by the limits of will. The right in America is willing to go further, to perpetrate violence, to flaunt the law, to throw out any and every principle in order to win even a tactical victory against its declared enemy, while the left forswears violence, reveres the law, and clings to its principles even at the cost of defeat.

Those old enough will understand this. It's why the civil rights movement became the black power movement. It's why the SDS split. It's why people took to the streets. Not because of the nobility of the cause but because of the utter hopelessness of the path of moderate reform.

The trouble with the radical solution is that is splits. It splits the nation, it splits communities, and in the end it splits even its own members into increasingly marginal factions. It's like a great wave that begins with seeming overwhelming power as it crashes into the shore, but ends in a hundred rivulets and tiny pools, isolated and evaporating. But while mighty, it can sweep away much.

It has been a very long time since those who genuinely want reform have held real power in this country. They don't seem to know quite how to handle it. I wish them well. In the wake of three decades of bonehead politics, this country can benefit from even the most modest tune-up.

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