Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Peter Wehner: Progressivism Is Radicalizing The Democratic Party

Wehner starts out by gesturing at rightward movement in the GOP. But it's thin gruel compared to this:
To more fully grasp the leftward lurch of the Democratic Party, it’s useful to run through some of the ideas that are now being seriously talked about and embraced by leading members of the party—ideas that together would be fiscally ruinous, invest massive and unwarranted trust in central planners, and weaken America’s security.
  • The Green New Deal, a 10-year effort to eliminate fossil fuels “as much as is technologically feasible” that would completely transform the American economy, put the federal government in partial or complete control over large sectors, and retrofit every building in America. It would change the way we travel and eat, switch the entire electrical grid to renewable energy sources, and for good measure “guarantee” high-paying jobs, affordable housing, and universal health care. It would be astronomically costly and constitute by far the greatest centralization of power in American history.
  • Medicare for all, which would greatly expand the federal role in health care. Some versions would wipe out the health-insurance industry and do away with employer-sponsored health plans that now cover roughly 175 million Americans. This would be hugely disruptive and unpopular (70 percent of Americans are happy with their coverage), and would exacerbate the worst efficiencies of an already highly inefficient program.
  • Make college tuition-free and debt-free, with the no-debt promise including both tuition and living expenses—a highly expensive undertaking ($50 billion a year or so just for the federal government)—that would transfer money from less wealthy families whose children do not attend college to wealthier families whose children do. It could also have potentially devastating effects on many private, not-for-profit colleges.
  • Increase the top marginal tax rate to 70 percent from its current rate of 37 percent for those making more than $10 million, unwise in the 21st-century economy and far above the average top rate for OECD nations; and impose a “wealth tax” that would levy a 2 percent annual tax on a household’s assets—including stocks, real estate, and retirement funds—above $50 million. It isn’t even clear whether a tax on wealth rather than income would be constitutional, but that almost seems beside the point.
  • Abolish the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), which upholds immigration laws; protect “sanctuary cities” (local jurisdictions that don’t fully cooperate with federal efforts to find and deport unauthorized immigrants); and take down existing walls on the southern border, walls which Speaker Nancy Pelosi has referred to as “an immorality.” These policies signal that Democrats don’t really believe in border security and are mostly untroubled by illegal immigration.
  • Eliminate the Senate filibuster, pack the courts, and put an end to the Electoral College. The effect of these would be to weaken protections against abuses of majority power.
  • Reparations for African Americans to provide compensation for past injustices like slavery, Jim Crow laws, and redlining. (Senator Elizabeth Warren believes Native Americans should be included as well.) Reparations would pose countless practical problems and create unintended consequences, as David Frum argued in these pages.
  • Opposition to any limits on even third-trimester abortions, and opposition to the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act, legislation clarifying that babies who survive attempted abortions must receive medical care. Abortion is a very difficult issue that requires empathy on all sides—but for many of us, this stance of Democrats is morally incomprehensible.
  • Increasing antipathy aimed at Israel, one of the most estimable nations in the world. Two freshmen Democrats, Representatives Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib, have embraced the boycott, divestment, and sanctions movement targeting Israel, and House Democratic leaders faced a fierce backlash in their efforts to condemn the anti-Semitic remarks by Omar, who has a record of anti-Semitic comments and who most recently accused supporters of Israel of dual loyalties. (The Democratic House, unable to pass a measure that focused solely on anti-Semitism, eventually passed a resolution condemning “hateful expressions of intolerance.”)
To be sure, these views are not embraced by all Democrats—but they are ideas that are gaining adherents, including among several presidential candidates, and are fundamentally reshaping and radicalizing the Democratic Party. On every front, the Democratic Party is moving left, and the power of the left can be seen in the fact that even Democrats who oppose some of these policies are wary of attacking them. When it comes to challenging the progressive wing, Democratic candidates act as if they are walking on eggshells. (There will be no Bill Clinton–style Sister Souljah moment in the Democratic Party in 2020.)
And Wehner leaves out perhaps the most radical part of the left's lurch left: the acceptance of transgender ideology/mythology as orthodoxy--and the effort to ensconce it in the law by pretending that sexual orientation and "gender identity" are...what? species? varieties? kinds?...of sex. And: brainwashing children with the mythology, and subjecting them to medical treatments in accordance with it that they can't possibly understand. 
   Wehner also leaves out the fashionable leftist skepticism about / rejection of the First Amendment and traditional American views of freedom of thought and speech, which are being replaced by a leftist conception of speech as something to be controlled by the state in order to protect allegedly vulnerable groups from politically incorrect thought.
   He also leaves out the general acceptance of identity politics and the acceptance of race and "gender" as fundamental political categories.
   Nor does he list the general tend toward more favorable attitudes about socialism independent of the Green New Deal. The GND is an effort to implement socialism on the sly--but socialism is also becoming more popular independently of the GND.
   I, personally, don't see anything like this happening in the GOP. Trump's a nut, but that's a different thing. I'm not even sure what it would look like for the GOP to lurch to the right in an analogous way. But forget about the comparative questions for the time being: there's simply no doubt that there's a hard Democratic lurch leftward going on. If you're a hard leftist, you should be happy about this. But if you're not, you should be extremely alarmed.


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