by John Rubino
With the election of Donald Trump, the US right let its id off the leash. Now pretty much everything conservatives have thought but not said is finding its way to Facebook, Twitter, and the evening news.
So it’s no surprise that the left, wildly envious of conservatives’ newfound rhetorical freedom, have decided that what’s good for the misogynist pig is great for the crazed socialist. From today’s Wall Street Journal:
Nancy Pelosi will have a hard time keeping the ultraprogressives in her caucus quiet.
The White House Correspondents’ Dinner in 2015 included an ingenious skit featuring President Obama and the comedian Keegan-Michael Key. As Mr. Obama stood at a lectern offering vapid pleasantries about White House press coverage, his “anger translator,” portrayed by Mr. Key, lurked behind him acting out what the president was really thinking.
Today, Democrats keep their “anger translators” in-house, among the progressive members of the 116th Congress sworn in last week. Already we’ve heard Rep. Rashida Tlaib, the freshman Democrat from Michigan, announce with an obscenity that her caucus is dead-set on impeaching President Trump. Next came Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, laying out the new House majority’s ambitious agenda—universal health care, free college tuition, a Green New Deal to combat climate change—in an interview with Anderson Cooper that aired Sunday on “60 Minutes.”
There have been some halfhearted attempts by Democratic leaders to distance themselves from Ms. Tlaib’s remarks and Ms. Ocasio-Cortez’s plans, but the reality is that both women are expressing views that fall well within the party mainstream. Dutifully, they’re trying to mollify the “resistance” while Democratic leaders appeal to more-moderate and independent voters.
Sure, Speaker Nancy Pelosi has insisted that Democrats are focused on health care and infrastructure, and not on running the president out of the Oval Office. She even spurned a request from Ms. Ocasio-Cortez to establish a House committee tasked specifically with advancing the freshman lawmaker’s green agenda. But these disagreements are over tactics, not objectives. The speaker and the freshmen remain united in their desire, among other things, to impose single-payer health care, increase environmental regulations and, yes, impeach Mr. Trump. There’s little difference between Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s progressive cri de coeur and the campaign platforms of Sen. Elizabeth Warren and other Democratic presidential wannabes.
It was Ms. Ocasio-Cortez’s response Sunday to a question about marginal income-tax rates that received the most attention. When Mr. Cooper asked her if she had a specific tax rate in mind, the congresswoman replied: “You look at our tax rates back in the ’60s, and when you have a progressive tax rate system . . . sometimes you see tax rates as high as 60 or 70%.”
The Wall Street Journal reporter continues for several more paragraphs pedantically explaining why lower tax rates actually generate more revenue for government — thus completely missing the point, which is that we’re finally going to see what both ends of the political spectrum really think.
For, well, forever, the major political parties have calculated that they’ll hold their rock solid 35% of the electorate no matter what, and to win they need to capture moderates numbering an additional 15.1%. So the relatively small cadre in each party who wanted to speak their minds even if it cost elections were muzzled by the somewhat larger group who wanted to win more than they wanted to tell their “truth.” The result was a (in retrospect) quaintly civil politics, with code words like “law and order” and “justice” serving to disguise the racist (in the first case) and collectivist (in the second) policies being sold to the unsuspecting middle with a knowing wink to the base.
Those days are over. It’s now okay to call immigrants “bad hombres” and “rapists,” and also to refer to the head of the Republican party as a “motherfucker” and propose a 70% marginal tax rate on the evil rich. The gloves are off. The dogs have slipped the leash. The verbal stage of the coming civil war has begun.
Why now? Well, it’s at least an interesting coincidence that the political system is spinning out of control at a time when the government’s official debt has doubled in two consecutive administrations and is now accelerating from there. And at a time when interest rates have been cut to levels that make it impossible for small savers to generate much of anything on their savings. And at a time when “jobs growth” has come to mean people taking on second and third minimum wage part-time “gigs” — and still not being able to support their families.
Sound money advocates might blame Richard Nixon’s 1971 decision to take the world off the gold standard and thus usher in history’s greatest debt binge. And they’d be right. Tech-skeptics might point to social media’s amplification of the darkest impulses of previously isolated crazies. They’re also right. Liberals might see increasing corporate control of banking and media alienating and confusing the masses. Right. And conservatives might see the ever-expanding welfare/entitlements state crushing the old civic society in which people instead of bureaucrats looked out for each other. True. All true.
Add these and a few other negative feedback loops together, and you get a societal breakdown that’s being reflected on big screens and small. The coming election will be unique in terms of invective (though probably not in terms of feasible policy ideas). What now looks like 20 or so mostly far-left Democrats will spend their primary being rewarded by their base for creatively insulting Trump, who will gleefully come back with “thoughts” on would-be opponents’ looks and sanity. Fun times!
And this is just the third or so inning of a game that will get a lot uglier before we come to our senses.