Posts Tagged ‘Jean-Jacques Rousseau’
May 10th, 2012 at 1:27 pm
Ezra Klein and the Cult of Youth
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With spring quickly turning to summer, it’s graduation season throughout the nation. This is a time of year where rubbish masquerading as good advice is rampant, and the same holds true in the Twitterverse, where liberal uber-pundit Ezra Klein offered up this half-baked idea:

Ezra-Klein_lightboxUm, Ezra … nothing. There’s a thread in modern liberalism — going all the way back to Jean-Jacques Rousseau — which esteems the callow and untutored as morally superior to the experienced and wise. Unfortunately, since the 1960s, that belief has increasingly come to be shared by society at large.

There’s been a lot of ink spilled on this topic in highfalutin journals and serious publications — much of it worthwhile. But for my (admittedly demotic) tastes, late night comic Craig Ferguson really hit the nail on the head in a monologue a few years ago:

February 13th, 2010 at 2:12 pm
Imagining Obama as Jean-Jacques Rousseau
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Over at the Weekly Standard, the Pacific Research Institute‘s Jeffrey Anderson has a very sharp piece on how President Obama’s self-designated role as philosopher king is (a) antithetical to the American system and (b) impeding his legislative agenda. A sample:

In a moment of candor, [Obama] essentially said [he embraced the philosopher-king role] to [CBS News’ Katie] Couric:

“Look, I would have loved nothing better than to simply come up with some very elegant, you know, academically approved approach to health care [that] didn’t have any kinds of legislative fingerprints on it, and just go ahead and have that passed. But that’s not how it works in our democracy. Unfortunately what we end up having to do is to do a lot of negotiations with a lot of different people.”

With the possible exception of Woodrow Wilson, can you imagine any of our prior presidents having said that?

Our democratic process, our separation of powers, and our federalist design frustrate Obama. But, far from being unfortunate, the negotiations and multiple levels of approval that they require, from a myriad of different citizens, is largely what secures our liberty—protecting it from those who would otherwise impose their own comprehensive goals from their lofty theoretical perches. The Founders were surely not Obama’s intellectual inferiors, but they were practical men. The Constitutional Convention was nothing if not high-level give-and-take, tinkering and refining. One imagines Obama showing up at Independence Hall with his own plan in hand (probably adapted from Rousseau’s in The Social Contract, with Obama cast in the role of the Legislator) and being surprised when the other delegates resisted his eloquence and, correspondingly, his proposal.

A great piece. Read the whole thing here.