Fear of success

Yesterday's 'rolling—rally' along a seven mile route in Boston celebrated the historic and spectacular Boston Red Sox World Series triumph. It also marked the beginning of a new ethos for Red Sox nation, no longer self—absorbed narcissists identifying with Sisyphus instead of Apollo; no longer victims, but now self—sufficient conquerors.

Since 1918, Red Sox nation have not only wallowed, but actually found comfort, indeed reveled, in being perennial victims of tragic failure.  And since 1968 the Democratic Party politicians have indulged in similar self pity, convincing themselves along with nearly half of voting Americans that they too are permanent victims.

John Kerry's campaign has been all about reinforcing and validating some Americans' self—image as victims of greedy corporations shamelessly shipping jobs overseas. Victims of oil companies gleefully price—gouging.  Victims of unscrupulous pharmaceutical companies preoccupied with obscene profits. Victims of right wing bigots denying civil rights to gays and lesbians. Victims of tax cuts for the rich. Victims of new education standards too strenuous to be achieved. Victims of voting booth conspiracies that vaporize ballots and swallow up touch screen trails. Victims of terrorists who in turn are victimized by American unilateralism and empire building.

According to Kerry, even members of Congress are victims—— of faulty pre Iraq war intelligence and of George Bush deliberately misleading the nation into the war. Of course the Democrats, intellectually bankrupt when not overwhelmed by moral vertigo, since Lyndon Johnson led and then abandoned them in the jungle hillsides of Vietnam, vowed never to be victims of a misguided military intervention ever again.

The Democrats, in former times comprising  populists, immigrants and union laborers,  once were champions of equal opportunity, not equal outcomes.; the party of upward mobility, not of entitlements and hand—outs.  FDR's New Deal was designed to enable the disenfranchised to get a foothold for themselves and bevel the sharp edges of American free market capitalism.  Often unfairly tagged as a closet socialist, FDR actually saved our free market system from the prescriptions of the radical left in the 1930s. The genuine JFK's inaugural remarks, two decades later, 'pay any price, bear any burden' couldn't be further removed from the notion of a nation of victims.

Lyndon Johnson, the Big Country populist, having drained the Democrats of nearly all foreign policy athleticism, was the first President to encourage the rhetoric of victimhood by enacting the Democratic Party's brand of  radical socialism through his Great Society. The welfare state was the result, marked by wealth redistribution, confiscatory taxation and institutionalized low expectations. Programs designed to enlarge the middle class and to win the war on poverty instead created a permanent underclass that after 40 years essentially remains unchanged, indeed more than twice as large.

Richard Nixon, earlier a victim of his own five o'clock shadow betrayed by the new television medium, when President flirted with the liberal Republican  brand of victimhood. Nearly every federal bureaucracy was fortified while piling on with the newly created Environmental Protection Agency and Federal Energy Administration.  Nixon, ironically a victim of a '3rd rate burglary,' was eventually succeeded by the Victim as President, writ large, in the persona of Jimmy Carter. By the time of Ronald Reagan's election in 1980, the economy was in shambles, we were in full retreat militarily around the globe, and millions of Americans had become accustomed to permanent victimhood, cradled and comforted in the bosom of the federal government.

It would never have occurred to Ronald Reagan to use the word 'victim' about himself, other than derisively.  Reagan evoked the rugged individual, the culture of self—sufficiency, the self—esteem of achievement; of knowing, judging and making.  Ronald Reagan rejected Jimmy Carter's legacy of a down—trodden nation devoid of imagination, optimism and humor, wearing malaise as a hairshirt.  Ronald Reagan's tax cuts, deregulation and emasculation of the Soviets were all forms of banishing victimhood.
 
Yet like lifelong tenants, finally buying clear title to a piece of property or prisoners for life, unexpectedly paroled, many victims challenged by Reagan to be self—sufficient were intimidated and paralyzed by the notion of freedom coupled with responsibility.  Rights are fine, but duties too? Bill Clinton's rhetoric, 'I feel your pain', was a shameless pander to the victim class and their enablers, nearly becoming reality through the Hillarycare debacle. Clinton, briefly out—of—character by signing welfare reform and NAFTA legislation, reverted to form, finally succumbing as a self—described victim to the 'vast right wing conspiracy'.  Al Gore proudly carried the election year 2000 victims' symbol, the social security trust—fund lock—box, around his neck becoming an object of parody and ridicule instead of becoming President. 
 
George  Bush's compassionate conservatism, re—tooled as 'the ownership society', is designed to finally turn victimhood on its head.   Rather than blowing up government, leaving victims to fend off the barbarians of American capitalism and globalization, a la Newt Gingrich's victimless manifesto, Contract With America, Bush is using government to promote self—sufficient values, teaching victims how to cast off their multiple dependencies.

It is precisely this form of under—the—radar implicit style of transformation that has John Kerry and the Democrats unhinged. George Bush intends to use big government to convert victim—tenants into self—sufficient owners, not perpetuate their enslavement. When he breaks their dependency, the Democrats won't have a constituency. His resolve and boundless optimism in harnessing government to achieve a society with minimum government is indeed the most radical social politic since FDR.

One would think that victims about to become self—sufficient, captives about to taste liberty, would overwhelmingly embrace their liberator. Not so.  It is frightening to be empowered, to be an owner, to be self—sufficient. To be self—sufficient is to be alone; to be resourceful is to be exposed. Ultimately it is this  fear of success accompanying the frightening loss of victimhood that may deny George Bush a second term.

After yesterday's parade cheering the new baseball World Champions, Red Sox nation will join the adult world of no—excuses, where there are no victims, just winners and those who aspire to join the winners.

Are Americans ready to leave adolescence and take one more step in becoming adults by re—electing George Bush?  Let's hope so.

Geoffrey P. Hunt is a senior executive in a global electrical goods manufacturer. He lives near Boston.

Yesterday's 'rolling—rally' along a seven mile route in Boston celebrated the historic and spectacular Boston Red Sox World Series triumph. It also marked the beginning of a new ethos for Red Sox nation, no longer self—absorbed narcissists identifying with Sisyphus instead of Apollo; no longer victims, but now self—sufficient conquerors.

Since 1918, Red Sox nation have not only wallowed, but actually found comfort, indeed reveled, in being perennial victims of tragic failure.  And since 1968 the Democratic Party politicians have indulged in similar self pity, convincing themselves along with nearly half of voting Americans that they too are permanent victims.

John Kerry's campaign has been all about reinforcing and validating some Americans' self—image as victims of greedy corporations shamelessly shipping jobs overseas. Victims of oil companies gleefully price—gouging.  Victims of unscrupulous pharmaceutical companies preoccupied with obscene profits. Victims of right wing bigots denying civil rights to gays and lesbians. Victims of tax cuts for the rich. Victims of new education standards too strenuous to be achieved. Victims of voting booth conspiracies that vaporize ballots and swallow up touch screen trails. Victims of terrorists who in turn are victimized by American unilateralism and empire building.

According to Kerry, even members of Congress are victims—— of faulty pre Iraq war intelligence and of George Bush deliberately misleading the nation into the war. Of course the Democrats, intellectually bankrupt when not overwhelmed by moral vertigo, since Lyndon Johnson led and then abandoned them in the jungle hillsides of Vietnam, vowed never to be victims of a misguided military intervention ever again.

The Democrats, in former times comprising  populists, immigrants and union laborers,  once were champions of equal opportunity, not equal outcomes.; the party of upward mobility, not of entitlements and hand—outs.  FDR's New Deal was designed to enable the disenfranchised to get a foothold for themselves and bevel the sharp edges of American free market capitalism.  Often unfairly tagged as a closet socialist, FDR actually saved our free market system from the prescriptions of the radical left in the 1930s. The genuine JFK's inaugural remarks, two decades later, 'pay any price, bear any burden' couldn't be further removed from the notion of a nation of victims.

Lyndon Johnson, the Big Country populist, having drained the Democrats of nearly all foreign policy athleticism, was the first President to encourage the rhetoric of victimhood by enacting the Democratic Party's brand of  radical socialism through his Great Society. The welfare state was the result, marked by wealth redistribution, confiscatory taxation and institutionalized low expectations. Programs designed to enlarge the middle class and to win the war on poverty instead created a permanent underclass that after 40 years essentially remains unchanged, indeed more than twice as large.

Richard Nixon, earlier a victim of his own five o'clock shadow betrayed by the new television medium, when President flirted with the liberal Republican  brand of victimhood. Nearly every federal bureaucracy was fortified while piling on with the newly created Environmental Protection Agency and Federal Energy Administration.  Nixon, ironically a victim of a '3rd rate burglary,' was eventually succeeded by the Victim as President, writ large, in the persona of Jimmy Carter. By the time of Ronald Reagan's election in 1980, the economy was in shambles, we were in full retreat militarily around the globe, and millions of Americans had become accustomed to permanent victimhood, cradled and comforted in the bosom of the federal government.

It would never have occurred to Ronald Reagan to use the word 'victim' about himself, other than derisively.  Reagan evoked the rugged individual, the culture of self—sufficiency, the self—esteem of achievement; of knowing, judging and making.  Ronald Reagan rejected Jimmy Carter's legacy of a down—trodden nation devoid of imagination, optimism and humor, wearing malaise as a hairshirt.  Ronald Reagan's tax cuts, deregulation and emasculation of the Soviets were all forms of banishing victimhood.
 
Yet like lifelong tenants, finally buying clear title to a piece of property or prisoners for life, unexpectedly paroled, many victims challenged by Reagan to be self—sufficient were intimidated and paralyzed by the notion of freedom coupled with responsibility.  Rights are fine, but duties too? Bill Clinton's rhetoric, 'I feel your pain', was a shameless pander to the victim class and their enablers, nearly becoming reality through the Hillarycare debacle. Clinton, briefly out—of—character by signing welfare reform and NAFTA legislation, reverted to form, finally succumbing as a self—described victim to the 'vast right wing conspiracy'.  Al Gore proudly carried the election year 2000 victims' symbol, the social security trust—fund lock—box, around his neck becoming an object of parody and ridicule instead of becoming President. 
 
George  Bush's compassionate conservatism, re—tooled as 'the ownership society', is designed to finally turn victimhood on its head.   Rather than blowing up government, leaving victims to fend off the barbarians of American capitalism and globalization, a la Newt Gingrich's victimless manifesto, Contract With America, Bush is using government to promote self—sufficient values, teaching victims how to cast off their multiple dependencies.

It is precisely this form of under—the—radar implicit style of transformation that has John Kerry and the Democrats unhinged. George Bush intends to use big government to convert victim—tenants into self—sufficient owners, not perpetuate their enslavement. When he breaks their dependency, the Democrats won't have a constituency. His resolve and boundless optimism in harnessing government to achieve a society with minimum government is indeed the most radical social politic since FDR.

One would think that victims about to become self—sufficient, captives about to taste liberty, would overwhelmingly embrace their liberator. Not so.  It is frightening to be empowered, to be an owner, to be self—sufficient. To be self—sufficient is to be alone; to be resourceful is to be exposed. Ultimately it is this  fear of success accompanying the frightening loss of victimhood that may deny George Bush a second term.

After yesterday's parade cheering the new baseball World Champions, Red Sox nation will join the adult world of no—excuses, where there are no victims, just winners and those who aspire to join the winners.

Are Americans ready to leave adolescence and take one more step in becoming adults by re—electing George Bush?  Let's hope so.

Geoffrey P. Hunt is a senior executive in a global electrical goods manufacturer. He lives near Boston.