The old establishment is passing

We don’t always agree with Peggy Noonan, but we always pay attention to her. This has been particularly true since her November 2002 WSJ piece contending that the Democratic Party’s electoral troubles stem from the Party’s having largely fulfilled its historical mission that began in the New Deal. It is an outstanding analysis and worth a periodic re-reading. Very uplifting too.

Not so uplifting is her piece today in the WSJ. She senses that there is something seriously wrong in the country, and that the elites in America — presumably conservatives as well as liberals — have lost their faith in our future:

Our elites, our educated and successful professionals, are the ones who are supposed to dig us out and lead us. I refer specifically to the elites of journalism and politics, the elites of the Hill and at Foggy Bottom and the agencies, the elites of our state capitals, the rich and accomplished and successful of Washington, and elsewhere. I have a nagging sense, and think I have accurately observed, that many of these people have made a separate peace. That they’re living their lives and taking their pleasures and pursuing their agendas; that they’re going forward each day with the knowledge, which they hold more securely and with greater reason than nonelites, that the wheels are off the trolley and the trolley’s off the tracks, and with a conviction, a certainty, that there is nothing they can do about it.

I suspect that history, including great historical novelists of the future, will look back and see that many of our elites simply decided to enjoy their lives while they waited for the next chapter of trouble. And that they consciously, or unconsciously, took grim comfort in this thought: I got mine. Which is what the separate peace comes down to, “I got mine, you get yours.”

We’re not as pessimistic as Ms. Noonan. We think she may be witnessing the demise of an old “establishment.” As we have written, the Democratic Party had 60% market share in 1964; today that has fallen to 37%. Similarly, the MSM’s audience for evening news was 60 million a quarter century ago; today is is 27 million or so and still falling. With the passing of these majorities and dominant mind-sets, it seems to us inevitable that a lifeboat mentality would grip members of an elite whose time is fading.

Conservatives outnumber liberals 3 to 2, and have for quite a while now. Yet the MSM paradigm, and the institutional paradigms at the other entities cited by Noonan, have continued to be reliably liberal. By and large this will not change, or change only very slowly. Institutions retain their cultures for a long time, even in the face of decline, as we have written on many occasions. Similarly, most people don’t change; as we noted in a post about Thomas Kuhn’s Structure of Scientific Revolutions, they tend to just die out rather then alter their lifelong beliefs.

Conservatives outnumber liberals 3 to 2, but until today they really have not acted like they believed they are the majority, even though their bull market began with the rise of the New Media in 1988 and the election of 1994. That minority mindset appears to have changed. We agree with Rush Limbaugh that the Miers debate, which he refers to as a Conservative Crackdown, is a sign of strength, not weakness. Weakness seems to us to be largely on the side of the Left, and has been perhaps best shown in the utter hysteria of its mouthpiece, the MSM, over the last four years. From Enron to Halliburton, Abu Ghraib to Club Gitmo, Durbin to Kennedy, Bill Burkett to Cindy Sheehan, WMD to flushed Korans, al Qa Qaa to Rathergate, Richard Clarke to Joe Wilson, Katrina! to Valerie, the MSM has fired everything in its arsenal against a Republican president and congress, to little effect.

Well, that’s not quite true. The MSM, with its relentless negativity, has brought down the president’s polling numbers. But, as James Carville has noted, the Democrats have sunk as much or worse. The Left, with its allies in Hollywood and the MSM, has created a culture of gloom in America, and we think this is what Noonan is observing in particularly intense form in the Beltway.

When will the culture of gloom officially end? When someone with a mainstream conservative viewpoint like Rush Limbaugh anchors the CBS Evening News. When someone with a mainstream conservative viewpoint like Jonah Goldberg is editorial page editor of the New York Times. (We are not suggesting these actual men for these actual jobs.) Consider it this way: what Dan Rather or Gail Collins think of the “normal” and “non-controversial” outlook is the liberal outlook, on issues like defense, civil rights, abortion, etc; we conceive of a time when the normal and non-controversial outlook is that of mainstream conservatives like these gentlemen.

Unthinkable? Consider this: the current dominance of conservatives in numbers and in thought was unthinkable a mere 17 years ago, when the New Media began. The Old Establishment is passing, and a New Establishment surely will fill that vacuum.

2 Responses to “The old establishment is passing”

  1. DL Says:

    I’m not looking forward to the day when Rush gives us the news. That would be the next worse thing to what we have now. Rush would be the first to admit it. Rush is a conservative and we don’t need our news from a political perspective (perhaps two or three would do) but we need objective reporting of factual information as the goal of the newspeak people. Let the pundits show their bias and inform us of the key issues and how they think we should view them-but we don’t want that from newspeople. we also need to cut the newstime back down to a decent hour or even half hour. Wht we get with this 24/7 even from Fox is repetition, and more repetition until (as a Yogi would say) they start repeating themselves.

  2. Bill Clayton Says:

    What an excellent article and with very thoughtful insight. The one point I think you touch on but don’t hit hard enough is the “culture of gllom” being created by the MSM. Even reporters are now receiving psychological help (according to the BBC) because they are depressed over the news they have selected to report. (Doesn’t the revolution eventualy eat its own?) I do believe most Americans have had enough of this. Perhaps it’s time for a turn to “Happy Days” again. At least I can hope!

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