In doing my morning pacing through the liberal/lefty websites and blogs, I noticed a common theme emerging that as of the writing of this, has stayed more or less constant. That is not so unusual, of course. There is only so much news per day and with the many sites out there, some duplication is inevitable. And with big news, it is good to have many perspectives to choose from. So I was prepared for many articles on the Tsunami in the Indian Ocean, on the Sunni cold feet about the upcoming Iraqi elections, even on Reggie White.
But what I noticed was not a story that everybody was linking to and commenting on, but one that was going for the most part unnoticed: the election in Ukraine.
I went to The Washington Monthly, Tom Paine, The New Republic, Joshua Marshall, even Atrios, among several others. Nothing. Only DailyKos bothered to mention it, and then with a dismissive "We've been here before."
What's up with the left? I would think that this is the exact kind of thing to get the liberal blood going. It's certainly brightening my day. I know that this is Christmas week and there is the temptation to take it a little easy between now and the end of the year, but what we have witnessed in Ukraine this past month has to be one of the biggest stories of the year.
We have witnessed, in a former Soviet satellite not only a peaceful revolution and vote, but an event which will have long-range ramifications for Europe, Russia, the US and in fact the world. Russian political reach has been hampered as speculation is already running on the possibility of Ukraine's accession to the EU. Soft support by the United States and European countries showed not only that principled, moral support can propel a people towards self-rule, but demonstrated that America and Europe can still work together on the big issues.
The thousands shivering in makeshift tents in Kiev's Independence Square epitomized the best impulses of human yearning to be free, to choose leaders and to do it justly and peacefully.
If I were wont to question the outcome of our own elections, like so many of my friends on the left, I could at least point out how civilized countries handle election fraud. I could talk about the People and Revolution and Fight the Power and be happy that at least somewhere citizens were standing up for democracy and doing it right.
But I don't get that today from the left. I'm starting to believe that the modern left is not interested in the march of freedom and democracy so much as heaping petty spite and hateful condescension on the rebellious children of a long-lamented deceased empire. There is a certain nostalgia for the old Soviet Union, to be sure. Throughout the eastern half of Ukraine and into pockets of former client states, tears are still shed for Mother Russia and the Great Soviet Experiment. Kazakstan still considers itself to be "a Soviet Republic" and then there's Turkmenistan, home to Turkmenbashi, the Last of the Red Hot Dictators. But what about the left in the west?
When I was forming my early political persona during the late 70s, I was a member of many leftist and "peace" organizations. I joined the World Federalist Movement, supported Greenpeace and toyed around with the Workers World Party. I was even vice president of a small nuclear-freeze group at college and was convinced that both Jimmy Carter AND Ronald Reagan were leading us into war with the USSR. As a child of the left, I had to be more left than my parents, naturally, so radical politics was for me. My parents weren't communists, but I was determined to be.
And where did we look to when we had our meetings? Why the Soviets, of course. In due time I became an apologist (unofficial, of course. I left the big talking to stellar intellects like Phil Donahue) for all the sins of Reagan's Evil Empire. Why, they weren't bad guys, really, just a little overzealous, dontcha see. It wasn't the system that was corrupt, it was the fault of whatever dead premier we were blaming things on at the time.
I read Trotsky and Emma Goldman and carried a tattered copy of The Communist Manifesto inside my coat.
I saw Reds twenty-three times.
I was Commie-Lite! I hated our government and the men who ran it, I yearned for a True People's Revolution and the Dictatorship of the Proletariat, but you know, I just liked having my own car and house and soft toilet tissue. Yet, I harbored a secret desire for the comeuppance that I knew America deserved.
Then I discovered Solzhenitsyn and the veil lifted.
I write all this just to let the reader know that when I say that the left sees the liberation of Ukraine as an embarrassment I know what I'm talking about. The reason modern leftists ignore the Orange Revolution is that it is another reminder of the failed, fake revolution we counted on.
To be in the left today is to scoff at whole countries that want a free and open society, to look on our country not as a bulwark against totalitarianism, but as a sewer of corrupt and value-less misers who feed off the mass of repressed humanity. If the Soviets had been successful, the thinking goes, we'd be living right now in a worker's paradise.
This is why no one on the left welcomes the news from Ukraine. Ukraine is looking west and the west is smiling back. Except for those, on the left, who wish for it to behave and mind its own business. But Ukraine has minded its own business and its business is working towards producing yet another free society, a beacon in the long struggle against tyrannical darkness. Will the left respond, or turn its face from the light? So far, it doesn't look good.