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The Ouroboros is an ancient image showing a large serpent consuming its own tail. Venerated by Greeks, Egyptians and Norsemen of yore, it serves as an apt metaphor for modern American liberalism.
The Democratic coalition was largely built on grievance politics. For decades, progressive leaders divided Americans into subgroups based on race, gender, class, age and sexual orientation. Political leaders were the first to stoke this fire, but educators soon joined in, as did the media, NGOs, big business and popular culture.
This coordinated strategy finally bore fruit with the arrival of the Obama era. Democrats had finally convinced the majority of American voters that Republicans are rich, old, white males who couldn’t possibly care about the poor, the young, women or non-whites.
As President Obama assumed power, his Alinskyite past served as the template for a renewed politics of envy, personal grievance and payback. The One Percent must be punished for their wealth. Traditional marriage supporters are hateful bigots on the wrong side of history. Mitt Romney gave old women cancer and locked the younger ones in binders. “The Cambridge police acted stupidly” and “if I had a son, he’d look like Trayvon.”
As one blogger notes, “Barack Obama thinks his job is to lead the mob, not the country.”
But as is often the case with politics, the Left’s success bore the seeds of its own destruction. Any ideology that stokes anger and neo-Jacobin tactics is innately unsuited to popular governance. It’s a grand time sticking it to The Man until the moment when The Man is you.
And The Man isn’t only in charge of the White House and Senate. He owns a controlling interest in the television industry and movies and technology and classrooms and music and art and sports. What’s a self-styled revolutionary to do once he has eliminated his most prominent enemies?
Create new enemies, of course.
In the Bay Area, Leftists are blaming Silicon Valley’s best and brightest for rising rents. Protestors smashed the windows of a bus owned by rabidly pro-Obama Google and blockaded its departure. Last week, they stormed a bus full of Yahoo! employees and vomited on the windshield. Instead of seeing these companies as proponents of green mass transit for a multiracial staff, activists demonized them as the rich Other.
Liberal icon and occasional comedian Stephen Colbert told an insanely racist joke which he claimed was told ironically. Asian-American activist Suey Park attacked the odd double-standard that allows racial humor by entertainers with D’s after their names. #CancelColbert trended for two days on Twitter as angry leftists demanded the ardent Obamaphile’s well-coiffed head. Eventually, other liberals came to Colbert’s defense. Race-baiting webzine Salon publicly shamed Park for employing the same grievance politics they usually instigate.
Today, amid Obama’s cynical push for fair pay for women, Washington Post reporter Nia-Malika Henderson turned on the White House patriarchy. Dusting off her degree in cultural anthropology, Henderson inveighed against Democratic clip art showing two women in dresses and high heels, demanding to know why neither wore pantsuits, hard hats or lab coats. “‘Mad Men’ comes to mind,” she sniffed.
Grievance, outrage and victimhood were wildly successful tactics when fighting Republicans; is it any wonder Democrats are using them against intraparty rivals? Even in victory, the perpetual victim needs a victimizer. Big Brother needs to hate Emmanuel Goldstein; so what if he once was a party leader?
As Obamacare fails, the economy slumbers, and the world burns, Ouroboros is growing hungrier. And, as in the legend, it will increasingly feed upon itself.