The era of the Obama Democrats should be a political progressive’s dream come true.
Yet, adherents to modern-day progressive political philosophy are anything but happy with the President right now. Worse yet, approval of the Congress – ruled with an iron fist by the Obama Democrats – has slumped to an disgracefully low 11% mark in a recent Gallup poll of Americans’ level of “confidence” among our nation’s various institutions.
So, why the unhappiness? What could possibly make progressives unhappy, with “progressiveness” breaking out all across the land?
The most obvious answer is a straightforward, political answer: because the economic consequences of Obamanomics have thus far been negative – or at the very least Obamanomics has yet to produce economic growth. This, in turn, has paved the way for a potential implosion of the Democratic Party this November.
But underlying the short-term political problem for progressives are serious philosophical flaws. Yet much of what we see and hear from progressives these days fails to address these flaws – and that’s bad for America.
Most of the progressive criticism of the Obama Democrats seems to take-on one of either a couple different themes. First, there’s the theme that “Obama should have focused more on job creation” during his first two years in office, rather than spending so much time and energy on healthcare legislation. Progressive pundit Arianna Huffington has been sounding this alarm for at least the last nine months, recognizing before many others that, yes, even Barack Obama needs to preside over a flourishing economy if he’s going to retain any political clout.
The other theme of criticism among progressives is that “Obama hasn’t gone far enough.” His approach to “reforming” healthcare should have been to completely shut-down any private sector involvement in the healthcare industry and the medical profession, and to place it all under the auspices of government-run enterprise. Similarly, he should have put “big oil” in its place by now, and should have already legislated a reduction in petroleum consumption while “creating” a “green energy industry.”
Both of these lines of reasoning are fraught with naivety, and false assumptions. And they are both grounded in a enormous misunderstanding of basic economics, and human nature.
Consider the assumptions about economics, and human nature, entailed in these remarks from Paul Waldman, writing in the July 20th edition of the American Prospect: “It wasn't supposed to be this way. Remember when Barack Obama's presidency was going to wash over the capital like a cleansing tide, renewing both the government's ability to accomplish great things and restoring the people's faith in that ability? It seems so much longer than a year and a half ago…The broader frustration is with a system whose dysfunction and corruption seem worse than ever -- one that seems like it's designed to stop progressive change…”
Indeed, the corruption and dysfunction of the Obama Democrats are bringing so-called “progressive change” to a halt. But why would Waldman – and the progressives, generally – ever think that concentrating more and more economic resources into the hands of fewer and fewer people (this is what happens when government takes-over huge chunks of the private sector economy, as Obama has been doing) would NOT lead to more corruption?
Progressives lament the harshness and corruption of the private sector, capitalistic economy – insurance companies denying coverage or charge too much for their product are common grievances – yet they naively assume that as long as politicians and government bureaucrats control things, greedy and self-serving behaviors will disappear, and the “collective good” will reign supreme.
But there is no historical basis for this assumption. Indeed, most of the world’s roughly five-thousand years of history paint a brutal picture of government “rulers” and “ruling classes” of people, abusively lording their power over the poorer classes. This is to say that there is no one individual (not even President Obama), nor any one select group of people (like Congressional Democrats) that are so “moral” and “virtuous” that they will consistently set aside their own personal self-interests ( self-interests like increasing their power and popularity), as a means of serving the collective good.
No, part of being human is to be self-interested, and the Obama Democrats have displayed in painful ways that they will do whatever they want with other people’s economic resources, so long as it makes them feel good.
This is why conservatives believe in the free-market economy. And not a free-market devoid of any and all forms of regulation (such economic systems only exist on paper). But rather, a free-market economy where market competition provides a check-and-balance to bad behavior.