Again, I've been thinking of the vast mental rift between self-proclaimed "progressives" and normal folks. Normal folks are defined as those who work for a living and who exhibit the very minimum of personal and social responsibility.
Orwell stated quite clearly that "progressivism" was one of those mental states which human beings are more than happy to come across and embrace because it entails two of our most beloved conditions; soothing of the soul or consciousness and avoiding responsibility. It is, in effect, sort of like No-Fault Insurance; you can advocate whatever you want, no matter how ridiculous, impossible or blindly stupid, but no one (especially your fellow travelers) expects you to actually DO anything to make it happen. Progressives simply spin out an inconsistent (and often contradictory) view of the future which bears no resemblance to reality or even possibility of reality, and no one holds them accountable for it, nor does anyone actually hold them to their promises.
The greatest thing about progressivism is that when it does (as it must almost always) fail, it has yet another built-in responsibility-avoidance tool; just claim that it would work, if only the right people had been in charge.
I've been thinking about this more and more (mostly because I have scads of free time) as the War on Terror advances at a snail's pace, and the political rhetoric here in the United States begins to heat up again. Most of the rhetoric revolves around issues tertiary to the actual WOT and are being used as wedge issues by progressivists as a means by which to split the electorate in advance of the 2006 mid-term elections.
The three main issues of the War on Terror are simply: why hasn't Iraq become a bustling, first-world democratic economic powerhouse already, is the US government engaging in "domestic spying" and violating the rights of it's citizens, and finally, who do you trust more to complete what has been started?
On the first issue, it's easy enough to see why so little (relative) progress has been made. To begin with, Mr. Rumsfeld and Company obviously made a decision that this war could be fought on the cheap, and they skimped on the intial stages of the invasion of Iraq. This skimpiness was more or less dictated by the realities they were confronted with; not enough troops, of the right kind, to conduct an effective occupation of Iraq, stablizing a fluid situation until such time as the new Iraqi government could be set up. So, the plan called for an all-out bumrush on Baghdad, decapitating the government (i.e., Saddam) and a hope that the Iraqis would greet us as "Liberators", which would make everything that followed reasonably easy.
In the end, it did not turn out that way, did it? However, rather than go back and correct certain mistakes (not enough infantry on the ground, too soft on insurgents -- remember the three battles for Fallujah--too eager to turn everything over to an Iraqi government in which the enemy actually stood for elections), the Bush Administration would rather pretend that everything is fine. It isn't, nor will it be in the forseeable future. Naturally, creating a stable, operating democracy from scratch is not an easy job to begin with, especially in a place where there is no history of democatic action or institutions, but we have made the preliminary steps harder than they had to be. Too much public relations, not enough killing of the enemy.
Is the US government spying on US Citizens? Depends on who you ask. The Administration states that electronic eavesdropping on suspected terrorists is a necessary evil. I can buy that. The Left states that all eavesdropping is wrong, unless, of course, they're the one's doing it. That is the extent of their arguments, however they are careful not to frame the argument in that way. If the Left's exposure of the government's means and activities is intended merely to weaken the current administration so that it loses face in the realm of public opinion, and makes the Left look better by comparison. It has nothing to do with actual national security or defending against a future terror attack. The Left is not doing anything to actually protect anyone's Civil Liberties (which they define as the right to an abortion, the right to a state-funded paradise for do-nothings and a plethora of welfare entitlements for selected, politically-defined "minorities"); they are telling you (by their protests and endless scenarios about the abuse of federal and executive power) what THEY would do if they were armed with the Patriot Act and a War on Terror to justify it's use.
As to issues of trust, ask yourself this: who would you rather follow? On the one hand you have a bumbling, if well-intentioned administration which, one day, might actually get it's act together before it's head retires from the political stage, passing the torch to a possibly better informed and motivated bunch, or a group which has a 50 year history of promising the moon and the stars and delivering nothing but more promises and a lot of manufactured angst?
Why is it that one half of the political spectrum is actually expected to do what it says it will and the other gets a free ride with a history of failure? Mostly because the first half is viewed as serious and interested in results. The seocnd half is populated with idealistic thinkiners (not doers) and inhabits a world where results don't necessarily count: only the thought does.