WINNING an election doesn’t just offer the chance to govern the country. It offers a chance to feel morally and intellectually superior to the party you’ve just beaten. This is an inescapable aspect of democratic culture: no matter what reason tells us about the vagaries of politics, something in the American subconscious assumes that the voice of the people really is the voice of God, and that being part of a winning coalition must be a sign that you’re His chosen one as well.
Mr. Douthat’s views are just “kinder, gentler Randism.” But it is still a dark Ayn Rand view of the world, just without pejorative words like moochers and takers. He reduces liberalism to a vision of transfer payments, rather than the essential American values of fairness, equality and opportunity. While I think it is dangerous to gloat, many of us do hope that this election signals the value of science, women’s equality and freedom of choice, and opportunities for new immigrants to become citizens just like our ancestors did.
Furthermore, while liberalism is a secular governing philosophy, it is not anti-religious, but rather affirms pluralism. Obama was right to not give in to the demands of the Catholic Church on contraception, over an issue that the vast majority of Catholics disagree with the bishops. Many of us who are liberal and Christian don’t think people should be told how to vote from the pulpit based on a few hot button issues. The problems of the Roman Catholic Church are not from a secular onslaught, but rather the Church has been a major cause of secularization through its enormous institutional failures.
While gloating is annoying, so is sour grapes. Move on, Mr. Douthat. As Desmond Tutu counsels, when you lose an argument, don’t just shout louder, improve your argument.