Sunday, August 03, 2008

We Were Watching the Trees While the Forest Moved

This is a terrific analysis of a major political shift that has occurred here in the USA during the recent primaries. The article’s author uses a review of a left-wing book to help make his case that the moderate policies of the Democrat Leadership Council have been swept aside as the party returns to the craziness that doomed them in previous elections, and explains the viciousness of the tactics the left uses when confronted. Any of us operating in the political forum are often amazed at the hatred and the insults thrown our way, and how Democrats so often try to criminalize political differences (charging Cap Weinberger; trying to impeach Bush; trying to “arrest” Karl Rove). These are excerpts from a long article. I urge you to read the whole piece by following the link.

What Kansas Knows
By Peter Ferrara
7/30/2008 American Spectator (Excerpts)

“Few outside the Democrat party understand what has just happened in the historic primary season that recently ended. But in those primaries, the party made a fundamental decision that marks a dramatic turning point in American politics.

Bill Clinton swept up the Democrats in 1992 based on the new politics of the Democrat Leadership Council (DLC), which he headed. The DLC sought to remake the Democrats based on recognition of what had then just happened in the real world of American politics. Reagan's Republicans had won three straight national elections, thrashing unreconstructed liberals like Mondale and Dukakis in landslides.

The DLC sought to accommodate what they saw as the valid components of the Reagan Revolution. The historic battle between capitalism and socialism was over, and capitalism had won. The Democrats had to modify their policies and their rhetoric to recognize that. Most importantly, they had to accommodate the essential vision that led to the political success of the Reagan Revolution -- the American people overwhelmingly favored the policies of economic growth over the policies of taxation and redistribution ("It's the economy, stupid").

This meant that Democrats had to build on, not reject, the essentials of free markets, and the realities of globalization. Democrats didn't have to swallow the whole libertarian agenda to succeed in this new environment. But they had to project an agenda that plausibly would advance economic growth, not ignore it and all of its possibilities and implications, or even actively undermine it. This became Bill Clinton's awkwardly expressed "Grow the Economy" theme, which was meant to imply that it was still the government that would be producing the economic growth through its wise policies, not the decentralized free market by itself.

This meant, in turn, that the Democrats were not going back to income tax rates of 70% and even 90% as in the heyday of the Left. They could still raise tax rates somewhat on "the rich," especially if they promised at the same time to cut taxes for the middle class, a central theme of Clinton's 1992 campaign that was completely forgotten after the election. But it was also time to recognize and embrace the realities of free trade, and the desirability and overwhelming popularity of welfare reform based on work requirements. It was also time to recognize and extend the successes of deregulation.

The Democrats went along with it because having lost 3 straight national elections, and 5 of the last 6, they were hungry for power. President Clinton stumbled out of the gate because he didn't initially lead with this vision that won him the election, but rather with Hillary's old 1930s warhorse vision of socialized medicine. That produced the historic Gingrich Revolution of 1994. The insight that made Clinton's presidency a success is that he then went along with the policies of the Gingrich congressional majorities, attacking and trimming only what could be projected as its excesses. The result was robust economic growth, and even a booming budget surplus, vindicating Clinton's DLC vision. Thus Clinton became the only Democrat since Roosevelt to serve two consecutive terms, with only one more Democrat, Woodrow Wilson, having accomplished that since Andrew Jackson.

BUT THE DEMOCRAT IDEOLOGUES, what Howard Dean later described as the Democrat wing of the Democrat party, hated and despised what they saw as Clinton's sellout. It was these people who, once Dean self-destructed, nominated the ultraliberal John Kerry in 2004. Right after departing service in Vietnam, Kerry had actually falsely accused his fellow American servicemen, on an international media stage, of committing war atrocities. Somehow, the Democrats to this day cannot understand why that came back to bite him.

The great showdown for the soul of the Democrats came in the 2008 primaries. Barack Obama, the most left-wing of all elected national Democrats, ultimately captured the hearts of the Democrat ideologues. Hillary never really believed in her husband's neoliberal DLC policies. Personally, she herself was still with Eleanor Roosevelt and the Old Left of the 1930s. But recognizing the political success of her husband's vision, and the political failures of the more left-wing candidates, she tried to project neoliberal responsibility and rhetorically hearkened back to the DLC successes of her husband's administration. That made her the target of the Democrat ideologues, resulting in her defeat

Elections have consequences. Obama's left-wingers have now completely routed the DLC out of today's Democrat party. Make no mistake about it. The New Left is now in charge of the Democrats, with Obama, Pelosi and Dean at the helm. This is not your father's Democrat party, or Bill Clinton's.

The political bible of this left-wing resurgence is a 2004 book What's the Matter with Kansas? by Thomas Frank, a left-wing writer….

THIS IS A REVEALING book about what is happening in American politics today, though in none of the ways intended by the author. For one thing, as the above quotes show, it reveals that the lefty Democrat base of Obama, Dean, and Pelosi is not living in the real world. Now that the conservatives have "smashed the welfare state," why is it that spending on Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid is at record levels for each program, the highest in history, with the three programs now slated to lead over the next 35 years to the Federal government doubling in size relative to the economy (GDP)? Having rolled back the War on Poverty, why are we still spending close to $700 billion each year on means-tested welfare programs, more than we spend on national defense? Add up Federal, state and local spending on education, and you will find that total is higher than spending on national defense as well, at record levels, higher than ever.

American corporations now suffer the second highest corporate tax rate in the industrialized world. The top 1% of income earners now pay 40% of all income taxes, almost twice their share of the national income. It is the Democrat Left that wants to roll back historic labor law reforms, seeking laws to deny workers their longstanding right to secret ballot elections on unionization, which would allow union thugs to beat them, literally, into publicly signing cards to recognize union control over their jobs. The latest farm bill was for $300 billion, even though farmers earn more than the national average, with most of that taxpayer money actually going to the richest agribusinesses. Theodore Roosevelt's vision of antitrust was rolled back almost 30 years ago now, based on extensive academic research in the 1970s showing that the original version of antitrust during the "progressive era" was mostly emotional nonsense. Robust antitrust law now focuses on actual restraints of trade, such as price fixing….

So the Left successfully used white guilt to convince Frank to drop all reasoning, logic, and common sense as self-interested claptrap, and to embrace the Left and socialism, on faith. In other words, it was like a religious conversion. That is why he and others on the Left never argue for socialist, neo-Marxism, they simply assert it as self-evident, because for them it is a religion adopted on faith, not a matter of economic analysis. That is why they are often so mean and personal rather than advancing a reasoned discussion of ideas, because they are engaged in a religious war, not an academic seminar debating the possibility that their religion might be false.

I RECOGNIZE the trick well. The Left tried to use it on me at Harvard. I laughed it off. I came to Harvard looking for the best arguments for socialism, the Left, and modern liberalism. Instead of offering me reason and logic, they tried to browbeat me with guilt. I wasn't buying it. I went to Harvard believing in both Jesus Christ and Ayn Rand. Despite the dominant Left's best efforts to the contrary there, today I still believe in Jesus, and Von Mises, and Hayek, and Friedman, and Mundell, and Laffer, not to mention Locke, and Jefferson, and Nozick. What the naive Left, represented by Frank, fails to recognize is that socialism, Marxism, indeed, the liberal "welfare state," are all merely a "romantic justification," a "self-interested rationalization" for the aggrandizement of government power and the true ruling classes. That is why for so long all the tin pot dictators of the Third World tried to pass themselves off as Marxist revolutionaries.

Of course, my parents didn't give me much of a foundation for liberal guilt. Both high school dropouts, they achieved a good measure of prosperity by hard work, surpassing my grandparents, who never finished grade school. But my mother could only dream of places like Mission Hills. They all became lifelong Republicans, starting in 1952, seeing the Democrats as just putting more burdens in their way.

It is Frank who unfortunately missed the 20th century. For what it demonstrated is the utter failure of socialism, Marxism, and all the fantasies of the Left. West Germany versus East Germany, South Korea versus North Korea, Japan versus China, the United States versus Soviet Russia, Miami versus Cuba, capitalism produced vast wealth and prosperity, the Left and its socialism produced utter failure. That is why today the supply-side revolution, tax cuts, privatization, deregulation and free trade are sweeping the world, not because the working class has become confused by abortion, gun control, and gay rights.

We can see the same contrasts right here in America. Liberalism has had dominant control in most major cities for generations now. But the working classes have fled those cities, which have declined dramatically in population and fallen deeper and deeper into economic failure

American Spectator


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At 6:56 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nice analysis. The last paragraph rings especially true.

At 9:54 AM, Anonymous Joe said...

I'm Voting Democrat...

I'm voting Democrat because I believe the government will do a better

job of spending the money I earn than I would.

I'm voting Democrat because freedom of speech is fine as long as nobody

is offended by it.

I'm voting Democrat because when we pull out of Iraq , I trust that the

bad guys will stop what they're doing because they now think we're good


I'm voting Democrat because I believe that people who can't tell us if

it will rain on Friday CAN tell us that the polar ice caps will melt

away in ten years if I don't start driving a Prius.

I'm voting Democrat because I'm not concerned about the slaughter of

millions of babies so long as we keep all death row inmates alive.

I'm voting Democrat because I believe that business should not be

allowed to make profits for themselves. They need to break even and give

the rest away to the employees and to the government.

I'm voting Democrat because I believe three or four pointy headed

elitist liberals need to rewrite the Constitution every few days to suit

some fringe kooks who would NEVER get their agendas past the voters.

I'm voting Democrat because I like it when planes fly into buildings

full of civilians. I want to see more of that.

I'm voting Democrat because I believe that when the terrorists don't

have to hide from us over there, when they come over here I don't want

to have any guns in the house to fight them off with.

I'm voting Democrat because I don't want a stimulus check to spend. Let

the government spend it for me.

I'm voting Democrat because I love the fact that I can now marry

whatever I want. I'm going to marry my TV.

I'm voting Democrat because I believe oil companies' profits of 4-6% on

a gallon of gas are obscene but the government taxing the same gallon of

gas at 15% isn't.

Damn I'm brilliant!

At 11:57 AM, Blogger Christopher Logan said...

Decades of doing nothing to help ourselves, is why we are where we are today. AMEIRICA FIRST!!

At 9:23 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

How is it that the thought of protecting our environment and our planet longterm ever became a democrat issue? Why can't this issue be non partisan? It has nothing to do wirh either democrat or republican...unless you want to label yourself "big oil" loving republican. You need to open your eyes and increase your news need to NOT shut down in denial mode ther second you hear global warming.


At 11:46 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is it some sort of sign of solidarity amoung conservatives to incorrectly use the word "democrat" as an adjective? I know it is a minor thing, but, for me, poor grammer detracts from a brilliant argument.

At 11:58 AM, Blogger RussWilcox said...

Although, in all honesty, I think the overuse of the word, Democrat, reflects the increasing disdain felt towards them as the insults pile up over the years, you destroy your point by splitting an infinitive.


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