ON-Lion Letter

"A strange period has now passed into history," begins Bradley Prize recipient James W. Ceaser's cover article in the February 8 Weekly Standard.  "Captivated by a presidential campaign in 2008, Americans by the millions came to believe that a new leader would be able to produce more than a transformed society and an era of world peace.  Politics could be extended beyond its ordinary boundaries and bring about a spiritual renewal.  This exhilarating prospect fed on its own spiraling expectations, surprising even its original purveyors.

"Faith in this political religion eventually dissipated," Ceaser continues in "What Next for the Left?"  "Four years into the experience, many ceased to believe.  Today most have forgotten.  Politics has retreated to its more usual limits, focusing on the harder core of ideology."

Ceaser is a professor of politics at the University of Virginia and a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, projects of which are supported by Milwaukee's Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation.

"Modern progressivism has driven much of American politics for the past seven years," according to Ceaser.  It now fully owns the Democratic party.  President Obama failed to achieve the general electoral realignment that many anticipated after 2008, but he succeeded in creating an ideological realignment within his own party.  The result was attained by subtraction.  Advocates of rival positions -- New Democrats, 'blue dogs,' pro-lifers -- were either sacrificed or induced to sacrifice themselves.  The Democratic party is now divided between a progressive wing and a more progressive wing, one that openly wears the label of socialist.

"Where then is the left today?  Gone is the pixie dust that Barack Obama sprinkled over American politics in 2008 that led so many, for a moment, to imagine a new dimension to American politics," he concludes.  "The left today is all about the ideology of progressivism.  It is fated to blame all ills on the shrinking part of the political order and society it does not yet fully control and to demand more measures to shrink it still further.  Progressivism is on a treadmill, running either at a fast clip toward huge new piecemeal changes or at a faster clip toward a change to socialism.  The direction is the same."

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