[19 May 2014]
Walter Mondale’s memoirs, The Good Fight: A Life in Liberal Politics, provide a hint of how things might have been different had he won the 1984 Presidential race against Ronald Reagan.
Among the many ways in which our world might have been better, there is at least one way in which it might have been worse: It is unlikely that a Mondale presidency would have witnessed, or encouraged, the tearing down of the Berlin Wall and the end of the Communist enslavement and Cold War it symbolized.
Mondale’s memoir is that of a classic liberal, so it will appeal to anyone who shares his interest in fairness, justice, free speech and common decency. And it isn’t a party-line account, either: Mondale’s account of his break with President Carter over the latter’s infamous “malaise” speech is of particular interest.
Mondale is remarkably engaged and up-to-date for a man who held the Vice Presidency more than 33 years ago. Nonetheless, while he understandably has a great deal to say about the many successes of liberals and the Left up to and including the Obama administration, it would have been refreshing if he had addressed a few of its failures and inconsistencies.
Some of these include (and maybe not as obvious or as hypocritical as those of the Right, but nonetheless not insubstantial): The PC-based bullying; the groupthink and campus speech codes; the infatuation with populist dictators; the creeping anti-Semitism; the insidious segregationism lurking behind the laudable anti-racism; the excuse-making for violent criminal behavior and terrorism; the over-the-top and probably insincere hysteria about “climate change” (or whatever it’s being called this week); and the unearned smugness that results in self-infatuated labels such as “reality-based community”, “the party of science”, “the party of tolerance” and, most patronizingly of all, “Progressive”.
Our next great political leader, if he or she exists and can survive our labyrinthine and insanely expensive electoral system, will be someone who can espouse and enact the classic liberal values, while exposing the ideologues and double-talkers of the Left and the Right alike. But Mondale has already served his country long and well; that’s someone else’s Good Fight.