A well written and fairly easy to follow discussion of how "liberals" have hi-jacked the American experiment, but it is far from ONLY a criticism of liberals. The author honestly set out to try to discover a limiting principle for "liberalism" and of course found none. Liberalism is like an invasive species with no predators -- it consumes all that is available until it's "niche" (the country or countries) that are it's host environment are destroyed.
Why? Because as Ayn Rand said, means are finite, but human desires are infinite.
or as Steven Hayward said in the foreword:
Ultimately what is at stake is not money or prosperity as much as self-government itself. Voegeli explains: “The danger liberalism poses to the American experiment comes from its disposition to deplete rather than replenish the capital required for self-government.”
This book touches on the aspect that "liberalism" is an organism that abhors any kind of limits, so "limited government is anathema to it's existence:
When [FDR] took office in 1933 the separation of powers effectively ceased to function for the first time in a major domestic crisis other than civil war.As I've stated in the blog many times, and one would assume would be obvious to the most casual of observers of Europe and the US:
“there is now a broad understanding that the social democratic project itself is unsustainable: that it has grown wildly beyond the principles of its inception and that the consequences of this are not only unaffordable, but positively damaging to national life and character.”16
I could go on endlessly quoting and there are close to 100 decent quotes along with a lot of excellent and very specific charts / analysis of US since FDR, the "Reagan attempt" that was the ONLY significant, yet still unsuccessful attempt to slow the Welfare State.
He then covers our current sad state --
- "limited government" Constitutionally destroyed as of the '30s and being trampled more each day.
- A people addicted to benefits for the "most needy 100%" with all but the top 10% believing that they will be net importers of government largesse from others pockets.
- The ever tightening screws on the smaller and smaller percentage of people still working, and detailed analysis of the futility of ever being able to transfer anything approaching enough money from that smaller and smaller group in order to "reduce inequality" -- in fact, why government transfers directly contribute to income inequality by rewarding behaviors that keep you poor (single parent family) and continually punish attempts to get off the bottom (marginal effects of moving up a level in income and losing government benefits)
- Lots of solid analysis of why libertarianism has no chance, and conservatism must be VERY careful if it seeks to have any power left at all ...
MAYBE conservatives can slow the reckoning. MAYBE some other pair can come to where he says that Clinton and Gingrich were before the Lewinsky scandal broke --- supposedly in secret meetings trying to means test FICA / Medicare and allow private accounts. But he doubts it, as do I.
Essentially it is a book that does a better job of covering a lot of the stuff that I have covered over the years from a better writer, with a little more hope than I have been ground down to. I heartily recommend it.