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Below is an excerpt from this month's feature story, "The Case for Libertarian Populism."
Something is rotten in the United States of America.
Except for a brief surge of pride after the United States swore in its first black president in 2009, Americans have consistently told pollsters for more than a decade that they believe our country is heading in the wrong direction.
Neither party is offering an agenda that speaks to America’s concerns.
Democrats only want to grow the size and scope of the federal government at a time when America’s trust in its federal government has never been lower. Republicans want to cut taxes for the wealthy and help big corporations at a time when Americans believe federal government policies already favor the wealthy.
Americans want an alternative. An alternative that dismantles the power and wealth of special interests on the Left and the Right. An alternative that recognizes we can shrink the size and scope of the federal government in a way that benefits all Americans.
Some Republicans have recognized this need and are already advancing policies that move the party in this direction. But a wider agenda that adheres to these principles is possible. Let’s begin by examining where the two major parties have gone wrong.
THE CORPORATIST DEMOCRATIC PARTY
For liberals, the source of Americans’ unease is easily identifiable: income inequality.
It’s what brought the Occupy movement out into the streets. It’s the subject of a wildly popular new book by French socialist Thomas Piketty. And President Obama recently called it, “The defining issue of our time.”
How do liberals plan to fight income inequality? Through higher taxes on the wealthy and a slew of new government programs to redistribute the money.
But progressives realized long ago that they needed deep-pocket partners to help run and popularize their treasured government programs. As Bill Scher of the liberal Campaign for America’s Future recently admitted in The New York Times, “The necessity of corporate support for, or at least acquiescence to, liberal policies is not a new development in the history of American liberalism. Indeed, it has been one of its hallmarks.”
More recently, this partnership of corporate and government interests was at the heart of President Obama’s signature domestic accomplishment, Obamacare.
Describing the legislation before passage, progressive journalist Glenn Greenwald noted the bill “forces millions of people to buy extremely inadequate products from the private health insurance industry regardless of whether they want it or, worse, whether they can afford it (even with some subsidies).”
“In other words,” Greenwald concluded, “it uses the power of government, the force of law, to give the greatest gift imaginable to this industry, tens of millions of coerced customers, many of whom will be truly burdened by having to turn their money over to these corporations.”
To his credit, MSNBC’s Chris Hayes wasn’t afraid to admit this governing model wasn’t limited to health care. “There’s a word for a governing philosophy that fuses the power of government and large corporations as a means of providing services and keeping the wheels of industry greased, and it’s a word that has begun to pop up among critics of everything from the TARP bailout to health care and cap and trade: corporatism.”
You can read the rest of "The Case for Libertarian Populism" in Townhall Magazine's July issue.
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