VISION & VALUES CONCISE: Whose Country Is It, Dude?

In the early 1960s, impressionist Vaughn Meader developed a great routine about President John F. Kennedy and his brother Robert, who served as Attorney General of the United States. It seems the two got involved in a family spat about some jurisdictional matter, with the elder brother eventually running off to whine to his father, “Daddy, Bobby is playing with my country!” Papa Joe’s reaction is not recorded, but the sentiment expressed in this parody perfectly captures the attitude liberals have had about “their country” since that time.

Perhaps nowhere else is this mindset better expressed than in the title of a Michael Moore book, “Dude, Where’s My Country?” The answer is: some of it is in the hands of the Republicans. Good grief, who’d a thunk that? Then he went on to produce movies like “Fahrenheit 9/11,” a scurrilous pastiche of scenes that make “The Princess Bride” look like a PBS documentary.  His Royal Corpulence has plenty of company, of course, like Al Franken, whose book “Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them” provided more heaps of political fodder for liberals who despise Republicans and can’t figure out how they got in control of “their” country.  The best answers the political left has come up with all sound as though Darth Vader and his minions somehow lied and cheated their way into power while The Force was on a coffee break.

But these books and scores like them all reflect serious reasons why liberals are so outraged by the current state of political affairs, why they regard Republicans as usurpers, and why the level of vitriol during this presidential campaign is so high. You see, there is a sense in which liberals do “own” the country, at least in their minds. After all, they “own” Hollywood; they “own” the New York Times, the Washington Post, the L.A. Times, and the left coast generally (that guy with the Austrian accent is a just a passing fad).  They “own” the Washington Press Corps, where Democrat journalists, which is either redundant or a contradiction in terms—take your pick, outnumber Republicans eight or nine to one.  Perhaps most important, they “own” academia, where encountering a conservative professor in the Humanities or Social Sciences is akin to an Elvis sighting. Since all these things are true, how does one explain the presence of so many Republicans?

The answer of course is that liberals do not own the country, and just as important, neither do conservatives or Republicans. True, conservatives have made inroads into a few areas where liberals used to dominate, as evidenced by Fox News.  In other areas, conservatives had no where else to go but to Talk Radio and the Bloggersphere; liberal control in nearly all other symbol producing institutions in American life gave them no alternatives. In fact, the growth of alternative sources of political expression is without question one of the most significant developments of the past two decades. Competition among ideas is not only refreshing, it is necessary to the functioning of a healthy democracy. No group, no person, no interest, should “own” a monopoly of anything, especially the means of engaging in free speech.

Until a few years ago, conservatives and Republicans have faced exactly what the founding fathers understood as the very definition of tyranny: concentration of power. The only difference is that Madison and Company thought in terms of government power, whereas the current situation applies to the ideological domination in our schools, universities, newspapers, and media generally by left wing elites.  Constitutional solutions to this problem involved constructing a system based on competition of institutions, ideas, and interests; in short, a political design that has withstood the test of time to host the most prosperous country in the history of humankind.  Smart dudes, those founding fathers.

They also had an answer to the question posed by the political left, which is expressed in the opening lines of the Constitution.  “Whose country is it, Dude?” Answer: We the People.