Hot on the heels of actress Cynthia Nixon’s from-the-left primary challenge of incumbent Andrew Cuomo in the upcoming New York governor’s race comes a bold plan from Senator Bernie Sanders to guarantee every American a job. Bernie’s plan amounts to the same feel-good hand-waving that was a major plot point in the endearing but frighteningly naive 1993 political movie Dave – a plan long on sentiment and “this is how things should be” but wholly divorced from reality. Even Bernie’s own people have no idea how much his plan (which, on first glance, seems to be about giving the unemployed government jobs at $15 an hour) would cost, but estimates put it at a trillion a year. As far as I’m concerned, this “jobs” program is nothing more than putting a false veneer of respectability on a gigantic money handout. Jobs that don’t have a reason for existing (i.e. most government jobs and any make-work program) don’t contribute value to the economy or create wealth of any sort, meaning that the wages for those jobs has to be sucked out of the productive economy. This is obvious to anyone who doesn’t put blind partisanship ahead of reality, and even attempting it would be enormously destructive to the nation. Yes, some of Bernie’s economists support the plan, but these people are either partisan liars or idiots.

These two chestnuts stand out in a broader “progressivizing” of the already-too-far-Left. Since Clinton’s shocking loss to the Untethered Orange Id, itself the culmination of a thousand previous electoral losses during the left-march of the Obama years, the Left has decided, against the obvious message of those losses, that it should continue with its progressive agenda, and indeed expand upon it, rather than recalibrate and offer up something different to the public.

Yes, I speak of the Left as a single entity. Given that diversity of opinion therein, even a tightly constrained “diversity” within the orthodoxy, is met with rabid attacks and infliction of personal destruction, it makes more sense for outsiders to look at the Left as a Monolith than to sort out competing ideas among its players. This is reinforced by the lock-step conformity that’s demanded of its politicians, and the war that the liberal establishment wages on those who stray.

While the Right deserves pillory for those among its ranks who’ve embraced the nationalist/protectionist agenda and abandoned small government principles and free market ideals, at least therein we can say that there’s a battle of ideas going on there. Not so on the Left, where hare-brained schemes like Bernie’s jobs giveaway get written about in glowing sophistry by people whose pedigrees strongly suggest should know better. Worse, reliable liberals like Cuomo who, as the New York Post’s Michael Goodwin noted, delivered the “Holy Trinity of the left’s agenda — passing gay marriage, gun control and banning fracking,” are being pushed even further leftward by the monolith. Cuomo and others who are suddenly not liberal enough comply meekly lest they suffer the Monolith’s wrath.

Conservative commentators point out, correctly, that the Left is bereft of new ideas. It’s hard to advance new ideas, however, when the Monolith has already decided what’s correct, and demands absolute compliance.

Trump’s unpopularity has put a lot of fresh wind in the Left’s sails, and that what’s increasingly looking like a mid-term rebuke at the ballot box is seen as an opportunity to press forward with the Monolith’s agenda, despite the rejection of that agenda by Obama-era voters. So, instead of an offering of new or centrist proposals that might draw those outside the core constituency, the Left appears to be banking on the same sort of “I’m voting against Hillary” mindset that helped Trump win to put them back in power, policy ideas notwithstanding. Strike that – policy ideas to the contrary. It’s rather evident that a number of policies the Left loathes: fracking, deregulation, drillbabydrill, etc, have had a good effect on jobs and prosperity. It’s also rather evident that a number of policies the Left embraces: bigger government, more regulation, alternative energy subsidies, expanded welfare, have done harm to the nation AND have worked against them at the ballot box. Yet despite the evidence, the Monolith would rather exploit the current political wind to reinstate itself and revisit harmful policies than to reinvent itself (see: Bill Clinton, 1995-2000) and reap success.

This leftward lurch in terms of policy is born of the Left’s continued embrace of take-no-prisoners political correctness and social justice lunacy. It’s also egged on by a vicious cycle of one-upmanship with the Right’s pro-Trump hard-liners. Compromise and common ground are alien concepts today, and giving even an inch of concession is simultaneously treated as a surrender by one’s own and an opening for triumphant attack by one’s opponents.

In Edgar Allan Poe’s gothic horror classic, The Pit And the Pendulum, an unnamed protagonist is strapped to a table, and a sharp blade on the end of a swinging pendulum goes back and forth above his chest. With each swing, the blade gets lower and lower. Our politics today feels just like this story. The power in Washington swings cyclically between the Republicans and the Democrats, and each sees as its primary (and perhaps only) goal, when it is out of power, as the recapturing of power. Often, without regard to consequences or the best interests of the nation (despite rhetoric to the contrary). And, as with Poe’s killing machine, each swing of power seems to move the nation closer and closer to ruin. The debt goes up, government spending grows with no regard for effectiveness or efficiency, and power continues to accrete to the “ins.”

The Republicans, when wholly out of power during Obama’s first year plus in office, promised all sorts of small government reforms, and were swept into the House by the Tea Party movement that embraced those promises. Once there, they immediately sought to defenestrate those small government promises, but were briefly checked by the principled Tea Party freshmen who, despite being told to shut up and do as instructed, held firm on tax cuts and some other issues. No matter – in time the party’s bigs won out, and when given the Senate and then the White House, defaulted back to their big government, big spending ways.

One of the great fears of a Trump victory was the damage it would do to the GOP and its (stated but rarely heeded) small government principles. While Trump has actually done some small-government things with regard to taxation, regulation and the Court, he and the GOP leadership don’t seem to give a flying [redacted] about spending, and the worry that this would allow the Left to move even further left by shifting the “middle” in that direction seems to be materializing.

Peter Venetoklis

About Peter Venetoklis

I am twice-retired, a former rocket engineer and a former small business owner. At the very least, it makes for interesting party conversation. I'm also a life-long libertarian, I engage in an expanse of entertainments, and I squabble for sport.

Nowadays, I spend a good bit of my time arguing politics and editing this website.


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