Wait, there was ever any question about it?
A recent New York Times headline warned readers that “Republicans Already Are Demonizing Democrats as Socialists and Baby Killers.” The article pivots on President Donald Trump’s strategy of portraying Democratic Party leaders as a gaggle of radicalized socialists.
The real problem is that he’s right on both counts. It’s a measure of their sheer brazen chutzpah that they’d even try to convince anybody otherwise. Either that, or their incredible faith in their lying and deceit skills.
New York magazine’s Jonathan Chait, one of the few left-of-center pundits willing to occasionally criticize Democrats for their collectivist tendencies, recently penned an article headlined, “Trump Calls the Democratic Party Socialist. He’s Lying,” in which he contends that both the leftward lurch of Democrats and the popularity of Sen. Bernie Sanders have been overstated for political reasons. A number of Democrat candidates, he says, have already rejected the word “socialist.”
Rebuffing the “s” word doesn’t make you any less socialist than embracing the word “capitalist” makes you a champion of free markets. No, these presidential candidates aren’t latter-day Trotskys…
Aren’t they? If they aren’t, they’ll do until the latter-day Trotskys come along. Which, all we have to do is just wait until the next time they have all three branches of government firmly in their control again and watch what happens.
…but contemporary Democrats, who have long favored tighter controls and bigger government, are now far more inclined to embrace proto-socialistic policies than they are liberal (in the genuine sense of the word) ones. By any fair reading, their agendas can be described as socialistic.
For starters, nearly every Democrat candidate now frames his or her political case within the context of a class struggle. Every one proposes fixing the scourge of “inequality,” not by loosening regulatory controls or finding ways to create a more meritocratic society, but by confiscating wealth and redistributing it to the alleged victims of capitalism. Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s confiscatory “wealth tax,” although ostensibly about funding her pet projects, is sold as a way of instituting state-induced societal fairness.
She’s not alone. These days, the left’s big argument is one giant zero-sum economic fallacy—the idea, for example, that successful Americans are “taking” bigger pieces of the pie than they deserve, to the detriment of society. The argument, the spirit, the aim, and the execution have far more in common with Karl Marx than with Adam Smith.
Well, DUH. It’s been argued here and elsewhere that most of our political/ideological classifications have been rendered nearly useless, and there’s a lot of truth in it. I still use the old “liberal” descriptor just for convenience’s sake, despite its meaning having been twisted beyond all recognition by now, knowing that you all know what I mean.
But really, even with the ongoing betrayal of the fraudulently “conservative” Republican party blurring distinctions further yet, the lines are still pretty distinct and simple to identify. And I won’t get all niggling and obssessive about whether we call it liberalism, Progressivism, socialism, Marxism, communism, totalitarianism, fascism, or whatever. It all boils down to one thing in the end: a belief that large, intrusive government knows best for its subjects and of right ought to be in as much control of their lives and decisions as possible. That said government should have as much power to intervene, meddle, and micromanage as possible. That an entire society can and should be dominated and directed by an elite class of supposed “experts” capable of making intelligent decisions for the masses, who are incompetent to make those decisions for themselves.
And that’s it, you can just stop right there. No need to get bogged down in pedantry over the minute details of specific policies or legislative proposals; the only question is, does it expand the government and increase its reach? Or does it limit or even reduce it? The argument is no longer about “liberal” versus “conservative,” maybe not even “Left” versus “Right”—if it ever really was. It’s about statist versus freeman. It’s about power and control versus liberty and self-determination, about the collective versus the individual. It’s about the State versus the People—about whether the individual shall retain any innate, inviolable rights at all, rights the government is strictly forbidden to touch in any way.
So with that in mind, when’s the last time you heard of a Democrat-Socialist voting against an expansion of federal power, or proposing one, or even appearing to be wrestling honestly in indecision about the question? They can wax indignant over Trump calling them by their right name all they like, but the truth is far beyond debate at this point.