Commentary: Why are Dems so stubbornly heading left?
Even after its 2016 election defeat, the Democratic Party persisted in moving to the left. It did so, I guessed, out of some preternatural instinct which had blocked the adoption of more prudent strategies. A run at the political center, for example, might have regained lost electoral ground.
In mid-2018, Democratic leftwarding continues non-stop, even though it makes this November’s “Blue Wave” more uncertain. Why such stubborn party behavior?
The dramatic Congressional primary victory of 28 year-old Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez featured a progressive platform of economic redistribution and leveling. Included were single-payer health care, a $15 minimum hourly wage, guaranteed federal jobs for the unemployed, free college and the abolition of ICE. I have not heard her speak on gun control or affirmative action, but would expect the most radical takes.
Topping it off, Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez offered that Ocasio-Cortez “represents the future of our party”!
Fair to say: should this self-proclaimed “Democratic-Socialist” and her radicalized party ever have legislative free rein, millions of wary Americans would be faced with the prospect of unresolvable national indebtedness, high taxation, nationalizations, intensified discrimination against whites, citizen disarmament, increasing crime and the denigration of “borders, language and culture.”
For years, it seems that the advent of Ocasio-Cortez was prepared by the likes of the leftist columnists regularly selected for this opinion page — with their unrelenting attacks on the wealthy, the big corporations, the Republicans (lately labeled “evil”) and even on the Democratic Party itself (that is, whenever Democratic radicalization was perceived to be lagging). And true to form, these forerunners were among the first to launch “white privilege” among other racist blasts.
From Princeton (2017) comes Walter Scheidel’s “The Great Leveler; Violence and the History of Inequality….” It diagrams what the achievement of economic equality requires. And it’s bad news for those who still believe radical change can be won with Democratic majorities, opinion columns, simple legislative acts of “reaching out across the aisle,” or with popular appeals for compassion, justice, love and the teachings of Jesus Christ.
Rather, Scheidel argues that inequality of wealth has a long history, one embedded in governments and societies from the ancients to the moderns. Because the narrowing of the gap between rich and poor amounts to the disruption of the established order, any success in accomplishing it requires “violent shocks” in the form of mass mobilization warfare, transformative revolution, state failure or lethal pandemics. Scheidel terms them the “Four Horsemen of Leveling.” Lesser shocks, he says, can never produce redistribution. Won’t even come close!
To answer questions raised: I suspect that many on the left have discovered that their electoral and literary efforts are inadequate to the task, cannot of themselves produce the “shocks” required (per Scheidel) for achieving what they view as fair and just in America. Accordingly, today’s American system as a vehicle for radical change is unsuitable, must bring the progressives nothing but frustration. This could explain the relentless Democratic movement leftward, the “font-family: .SFUIDisplay;”>spate of demonstrations we have been witnessing and the heated outpourings from Maxine Waters, Michael Moore, the supporters of Lexington’s Red Hen and many others. Further, the latest Gallup polling tends to corroborate such anger and contempt: fewer than one in three Democrats are extremely proud to be Americans — a new low.There’s a tinge of violence to it all and some observers claim there’s more than a hint of civil war in the air. Could it be that some leftists would promote the “violent shocks” deemed necessary to realize their agenda? (Duhhh!)
So, it’s a fair question to ask of anyone, especially those on the thoroughly frustrated and angry left: how far would you run if ever given the opportunity, if the redistribution football ever fell into your hands? Such a question might have been usefully asked of French lawyer Maximilien Robespierre in 1789, just before he arrived in Paris!
Richard Hoover, a retired Foreign Service officer, resides in southern Warren County.