Writing at the American Thinker, J.R. Dunn has a scathing indictment of modern liberalism, starting with the 1968 Democratic convention. I think the whole article is worth reading, especially the bit about the Clinton-esque corruption of Governors Spitzer, McCreevy and Paterson, but I was especially taken with this run-down, which describes the liberalism in which I grew up believing, until even I figured out it was an elaborate shell game:
The Democrats’ 1968 Chicago convention marked the end of classical liberalism. Media coverage revealed American liberals as incapable of controlling their own constituency, much less directing a country. As delegates cowered within the convention center, Movement rioters ran wild throughout the downtown area, fighting knock-down, drag-out battles with the police. Not a single liberal figure made any serious attempt to confront, control, or even communicate with the rioters. Little more than a decade after declaring itself the “American civic creed”, liberalism was on the ropes.
Instead of joining the Whigs and Know-Nothings in historical oblivion, liberalism surrendered to its internal rebels, the Democratic Party’s left wing, indistinguishable in beliefs and intent from any hardcore socialist party on the international scene. In 1972, they ran one of their own, George McGovern who in 1948 had served as delegate for communist front-man Henry Wallace) for the presidency.
McGovern’s defeat at the hands of Richard M. Nixon represented no real setback for the new ideology. American leftists commenced their “Long march through the institutions” using techniques developed by Marxist theoretician Antonio Gramsci to take over the media, academia, and much of the bureaucracy. Political liberalism, due in large part to its control over massive urban machines, many of then going back to the days of Tammany, continued as a kind of husk animated by the new leftist persona. But liberalism in the classic sense existed only in the minds of the naive, the ill-informed, and terminally nostalgic.
Followers of the mutant ideology were in no way open with their agenda. Instead they operated under the cover of two pretenses — superior governance and high morality. Liberals presented themselves as technocrats with a clearer understanding of policy and governance than the opposition. Pragmatism was their creed, results their only criteria. Utilizing the old gimmicks of constituent services and favors and the new ones of planning and centralization, liberalism was able to maintain its dominance in backward and desperate areas of the country such as the Northeast and Upper Midwest.
The claim to higher morality was more inchoate, a kind of luminous abstraction beyond the grasp of money-grubbing Republicans, clearly understandable only by liberals themselves. Liberals claimed a monopoly on compassion, decency, and social justice (as defined by themselves), posing as the sole defenders of civic virtue against a horde of backwoodsmen, racists, and religious fanatics.
This elaborate double imposture served to keep liberalism alive for over three decades in the absence of ideas, doctrine, and serious accomplishments. But 2008 has brought the charade to an end. Events this year have exposed, once and for all, in a way that cannot be denied, elided, or spun, Democratic liberals as the party of abject incompetence and institutionalized corruption.
To me, the above is a good example of good writing and good thinking. You can read the rest here and see how neatly Obama and Clinton fit into the modern liberal package.