… is from page 328 of George Will’s excellent 2019 book, The Conservative Sensibility:
Half a century on, the nation’s mood is tinged with sadness stemming from the well-founded fear that America’s new, post-Great Society government is subverting America’s old character. This government’s agenda is a menu of temptations intended to change the nation’s social norms by making Americans comfortable with dependency.
DBx: So true.
My intrepid Mercatus Center colleague Veronique de Rugy says often that she fears that America is becoming ever-more like her native France. Vero’s fear is justified.
Progressives have for a long time now competed vigorously with each other to see who can identify the greatest number of groups the members of which are helpless victims of this and that ‘system’ or troupe of historical actors, including (but hardly limited to) capitalism, the patriarchy, late-15th-century European explorers and early-17th-century slavers. And – worse – lots people have proudly proclaimed their membership in these groups of ‘victims.’
Many conservatives have recently upped their game at playing at this socially destructive form of competition. From politicians such as Donald Trump, Marco Rubio, and Tom Cotton to pundits such as Oren Cass, Tucker Carlson, and Daniel McCarthy, we hear that we uniquely resilient and splendidly capable Americans are the helpless victims of low-wage workers in China and Mexico, of hard-working immigrants from El Salvador and Guatemala, and of choice-expanding entrepreneurs such as Jeff Bezos and Mark Zuckerberg.
This phenomenon of a person seeming to find dignity in discovering that he or she is a helpless victim requiring rescue by political superheroes – and requiring also continuing dependency on his or her rescuers – seems, at first, to be bizarre. But the bizarreness fades, if the contemptibility of it does not, upon realizing that the political superheroes promise material rewards to these ‘victims.’
The fact that these ‘victims’ in fact typically wind up being truly victimized by the very process that is ostensibly aimed at rescuing them from their imagined ‘victimhood’ only adds to the situation sad irony.