The Kennedy Test

Now that the last Kennedy brother has lost his fight with brain cancer, you can say say this about the Kennedys: they always seemed to know what Democrats wanted. 

Elder brother Joe died a hero's death in World War II, at a time when liberals were all in favor of fighting fascism.  Jack Kennedy was a cold warrior, when liberals were temporarily anti-communist.  Robert Kennedy was an aide to Senator Joe McCarthy when that was the sweet spot for an ambitious young Democrat, and a fervent liberal in 1967-68 when that was the right place to be. 

The late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-MA) was a fervent liberal for 45 years in the US Senate when all liberals wanted their leaders to be fervent in extending the welfare state and ruthless in slashing at Reagan-Bush-Gingrich conservatives who dared to offer other ideas for America. 

It came to the point that you could tell if an issue was good for America by performing a simple test.  If Ted was for it, you knew that it was good for liberal rent-seekers and bad for everyone else. 

Call it the Kennedy Test.  Do you want to nail Americans down with 1,000 page bills that nobody has read, or do you want America be a city on a hill, still a beacon, still a magnet for those who must have freedom?  If you love freedom the chances are that you don't like Kennedyism.

George Gilder has written a book about the Kennedy Test.  Only he calls it The Israel Test.  The test is nothing special.  It goes like this:

What is your attitude towards people who excel you in the creation of wealth or in other accomplishment?  Do you admire it or do you seethe at it? 

Gilder quotes Caroline Glick of the Jerusalem Post:  "Some people admire success; some people envy it.  The enviers hate Israel." 

For conservatives, the defining moment of Ted Kennedy's public life was his campaign against Judge Robert Bork, who was perhaps the most qualified man ever to be nominated to the US Supreme Court.  Liberals couldn't allow a man of his accomplishment on the court.  Why, he might change hearts and minds!  So Ted Kennedy stood up on the floor of the Senate and seethed at Robert Bork's accomplishment.

It was on that day, July 1, 1987, that liberalism turned a corner and began to die.  That was the day it failed the Kennedy Test.  It turned its face away from hope and the future, and hunkered down like a dog in a manger to defend its privileges.

Do you admire success, or do you want to nail it down?  Every day we face the challenge.  Do we want to be more like the Jews, like Israel, or more like Ted Kennedy and big-government compulsion?

George Gilder reminds us that Israel started out voting with Kennedy.  The Zionists that settled in Palestine were ashamed of the Jewish reputation as cunning middle-men.  Instead of founding Israel on the strengths of the Jews in business, science and banking, they built kibbutzim "and put intellectuals to work with hoes and shovels."  The new Israeli government owned banks, hundreds of corporations, and most of the land; the result, from 1948 to 1984, was stagnation and inflation.  Then in the 1980s, when inflation hit 400 percent, Shamir and Netanyahu began a Reagan revolution and the Israeli economy took wing.  Israel began voting for accomplishment and hope.  Today Israel is the "Israel Inside" Intel, and leads the world in biotech.

Then there are the Palestinians.  The only time that the Palestinians have prospered since 1948 was after 1967 and before the first Intifada in 1987 when they went to work in the Israeli economy.  Since 1993 and the Oslo accords they have chosen death and dependency.  And dependency is what the Kennedy liberals the world over do in spades.  You gotta grievance?  You want a handout?  Can we help you, says the international liberal elite.  And they have wrecked the Palestinian people with their aid just as the liberals have wrecked the proud working class all across the western world with government handouts.

F.A. Hayek knew what to call the liberal way.  He called it "The Atavism of Social Justice."  The Ted Kennedys, the Palestinians, the Obamas of this world are trying to return us to the social envy of the food-sharing hunter-gatherer band, he wrote.  But the experience of the last two centuries is that every time you force the achievers to share the wealth you get less of it for everyone. 

In Liberal Fascism, Jonah Goldberg has written about the kissing-cousin relationship between liberalism and fascism.  But in the Afterword to the paperback edition he wishes there was another word for it, for "fascism" has become an empty pejorative liberals use to throw at their adversaries.

Here's an idea, Jonah.  Don't call it liberal fascism.  Let's just say that anyone who fails the Kennedy Test is a "social atavist."  It's not even a pejorative.  Not yet.

Christopher Chantrill is a frequent contributor to American Thinker. See his roadtothemiddleclass.com and usgovernmentspending.comHis Road to the Middle Class is forthcoming.
Now that the last Kennedy brother has lost his fight with brain cancer, you can say say this about the Kennedys: they always seemed to know what Democrats wanted. 

Elder brother Joe died a hero's death in World War II, at a time when liberals were all in favor of fighting fascism.  Jack Kennedy was a cold warrior, when liberals were temporarily anti-communist.  Robert Kennedy was an aide to Senator Joe McCarthy when that was the sweet spot for an ambitious young Democrat, and a fervent liberal in 1967-68 when that was the right place to be. 

The late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-MA) was a fervent liberal for 45 years in the US Senate when all liberals wanted their leaders to be fervent in extending the welfare state and ruthless in slashing at Reagan-Bush-Gingrich conservatives who dared to offer other ideas for America. 

It came to the point that you could tell if an issue was good for America by performing a simple test.  If Ted was for it, you knew that it was good for liberal rent-seekers and bad for everyone else. 

Call it the Kennedy Test.  Do you want to nail Americans down with 1,000 page bills that nobody has read, or do you want America be a city on a hill, still a beacon, still a magnet for those who must have freedom?  If you love freedom the chances are that you don't like Kennedyism.

George Gilder has written a book about the Kennedy Test.  Only he calls it The Israel Test.  The test is nothing special.  It goes like this:

What is your attitude towards people who excel you in the creation of wealth or in other accomplishment?  Do you admire it or do you seethe at it? 

Gilder quotes Caroline Glick of the Jerusalem Post:  "Some people admire success; some people envy it.  The enviers hate Israel." 

For conservatives, the defining moment of Ted Kennedy's public life was his campaign against Judge Robert Bork, who was perhaps the most qualified man ever to be nominated to the US Supreme Court.  Liberals couldn't allow a man of his accomplishment on the court.  Why, he might change hearts and minds!  So Ted Kennedy stood up on the floor of the Senate and seethed at Robert Bork's accomplishment.

It was on that day, July 1, 1987, that liberalism turned a corner and began to die.  That was the day it failed the Kennedy Test.  It turned its face away from hope and the future, and hunkered down like a dog in a manger to defend its privileges.

Do you admire success, or do you want to nail it down?  Every day we face the challenge.  Do we want to be more like the Jews, like Israel, or more like Ted Kennedy and big-government compulsion?

George Gilder reminds us that Israel started out voting with Kennedy.  The Zionists that settled in Palestine were ashamed of the Jewish reputation as cunning middle-men.  Instead of founding Israel on the strengths of the Jews in business, science and banking, they built kibbutzim "and put intellectuals to work with hoes and shovels."  The new Israeli government owned banks, hundreds of corporations, and most of the land; the result, from 1948 to 1984, was stagnation and inflation.  Then in the 1980s, when inflation hit 400 percent, Shamir and Netanyahu began a Reagan revolution and the Israeli economy took wing.  Israel began voting for accomplishment and hope.  Today Israel is the "Israel Inside" Intel, and leads the world in biotech.

Then there are the Palestinians.  The only time that the Palestinians have prospered since 1948 was after 1967 and before the first Intifada in 1987 when they went to work in the Israeli economy.  Since 1993 and the Oslo accords they have chosen death and dependency.  And dependency is what the Kennedy liberals the world over do in spades.  You gotta grievance?  You want a handout?  Can we help you, says the international liberal elite.  And they have wrecked the Palestinian people with their aid just as the liberals have wrecked the proud working class all across the western world with government handouts.

F.A. Hayek knew what to call the liberal way.  He called it "The Atavism of Social Justice."  The Ted Kennedys, the Palestinians, the Obamas of this world are trying to return us to the social envy of the food-sharing hunter-gatherer band, he wrote.  But the experience of the last two centuries is that every time you force the achievers to share the wealth you get less of it for everyone. 

In Liberal Fascism, Jonah Goldberg has written about the kissing-cousin relationship between liberalism and fascism.  But in the Afterword to the paperback edition he wishes there was another word for it, for "fascism" has become an empty pejorative liberals use to throw at their adversaries.

Here's an idea, Jonah.  Don't call it liberal fascism.  Let's just say that anyone who fails the Kennedy Test is a "social atavist."  It's not even a pejorative.  Not yet.

Christopher Chantrill is a frequent contributor to American Thinker. See his roadtothemiddleclass.com and usgovernmentspending.comHis Road to the Middle Class is forthcoming.