Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Why American Liberalism Has Been Losing Since 1968.

The godfather of the American conservative movement, William Buckley has died. One of his most famous television appearances was at the 1968 Democratic convention in a debate with Gore Vidal. Looking at the clip four decades on it obvious why American conservatism has fared so much better than liberalism since then. The clip itself is of poor quality but is understandable.

Vidal is incapable of constructing coherent argument and thinks that sneering and calling his opponents Nazis demonstrates his intellectual sophistication*, whilst Buckley argues the actual points. Since 1968 the Democrats have been trying to find a balance between representing their base, exemplified in buffoons like Vidal who look down on most of their compatriots whilst simultaneously reaching out to 'middle America'. In the ten elections since that exchange only Bill Clinton has been able to square that circle (Carter won office but was found out pretty quickly).

* As the satirist Craig Brown has said, he first realised that Vidal wasn't the genius he pretended to be when he heard him on the radio discussing the British intelligence services "M-fifteen" and "m-sixteen".

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