The Democrats' Drive-by Politics for 2006

What a surprise.  The Democrats' New Direction for America pdf, their blueprint for capturing control of Congress this Fall, turns out not to be the call to arms, the Democratic Contract with America we were promised, but a bland reassurance to their base.  It is not a message to the supposed base of Angry Lefties, but the real base of pensioned, protected, tenured, dependent beneficiaries.

We'll make health care more affordable, Democrats promise, by cracking down on Big Drug.  We'll "crack down on price gouging," they declare, by cracking down on Big Oil.  We'll Help Working Families, Cut College Costs, and Ensure Dignified Retirement.

This is drive—by politics, spraying the political neighborhood with bullets and hoping that one of them hits home.

But there is nothing in these headline issues about Iraq.  There is nothing about immigration.  There is nothing about the environment or global warming.  There is nothing about social issues.  We know why.

Democrats are split, or they disagree with most Americans on those issues.  So it is better for them to say nothing.

Democrats aren't going to play big ball this fall after all. They are going to stay with small ball.  For some reason that surprises us.

But it shouldn't.  Modern Democrats shrink from risk, opting for safety, for they are the party of the great Special Interests that are afraid of change.  But why the drive—by manifesto?

We should never forget that there are three world—historical movements competing against each other in the world today. 

There is Civilization, the culture of commerce and law in the city begun in Mesopotamia some 5,000 years ago. 

There is Progressive Puritanism, libertine in sex but rigidly controlling in everything else, a recurring conceit of well—born adolescents.

And now there is Muslim Reaction, a movement that needs no introduction.  (There is also the culture of lefty thug dictators, a sordid sideshow beneath our contempt.)

In the culture of Civilization—which means, let us never forget, citification—city, commerce, and law come together like ham and eggs and hash browns.  The greatness of the city is founded on a simple fact.  It does not grow its own food, so it must trade for it.  Thus it must foster commerce, and as soon as commerce emerges there is a need for law, for businessmen need an efficient way of adjudicating their mistakes and their disputes without destroying the bottom line.

The aftertaste of this happy meal is prosperity and wealth, every time it is tried.

Progressive Puritanism is a horse of a different color.   It emerged just after the beginning of the industrial age.  At the moment that the businessmen of the era were succeeding in a risky scheme of transforming the hungry peasants of Europe and the immigrants to North America into productive industrial wage—earners the sons of the middle class decided that the effort had completely failed.  How right they were.  Look at what happened.

The Steam and Steel era of the nineteenth century merely gave every working man cash wages and food on the table.  The Auto and Electric era of the twentieth century merely put a car in every garage and offered the hope of suburban comfort to every woman (not to mention safe childbirth).  And now the Information era of the twenty—first century merely puts a computer on every desk. 

Progressive Puritanism has always been a drive—by politics of well—born adolescents appalled that the world did not measure up to their high ideals.

So it makes complete sense that Democrats would come out with a drive—by manifesto that blames high drug prices for seniors on Big Drug, and not on the bramble of government drug regulation.

It's obvious that they would blame high gasoline prices on "price gouging" by Big Oil and not on the environmentalists who for thirty years blocked any kind of energy development that did not require enormous subsidy.  Any well—born adolescent majoring in environmental science would agree with that.

The chance of Dignified Retirement is mostly at risk from a pay—as—you—go government Ponzi scheme, but Democrats oppose letting Big Finance take over America's retirement system and setting it to rights.

To Cut College Costs Democrats want to increase subsidies to help parents and students feed the beast rather than attack the monopolistic practices, the tenure, the subsidies, the waste of Big Education.

To Help Working Families, Democrats will crack down on the stingy wages and subsidies of Big Business.  Never mind how the web of Big Government regulation attempts to reduce young business saplings into twisted bonsai trees instead of straight, true trees that reach for the sky.

It's all baloney, but hey, in drive—by politics you never know when one of your wild accusations will hit home with the voters.

Christopher Chantrill  blogs here. His Road to the Middle Class is forthcoming.

What a surprise.  The Democrats' New Direction for America pdf, their blueprint for capturing control of Congress this Fall, turns out not to be the call to arms, the Democratic Contract with America we were promised, but a bland reassurance to their base.  It is not a message to the supposed base of Angry Lefties, but the real base of pensioned, protected, tenured, dependent beneficiaries.

We'll make health care more affordable, Democrats promise, by cracking down on Big Drug.  We'll "crack down on price gouging," they declare, by cracking down on Big Oil.  We'll Help Working Families, Cut College Costs, and Ensure Dignified Retirement.

This is drive—by politics, spraying the political neighborhood with bullets and hoping that one of them hits home.

But there is nothing in these headline issues about Iraq.  There is nothing about immigration.  There is nothing about the environment or global warming.  There is nothing about social issues.  We know why.

Democrats are split, or they disagree with most Americans on those issues.  So it is better for them to say nothing.

Democrats aren't going to play big ball this fall after all. They are going to stay with small ball.  For some reason that surprises us.

But it shouldn't.  Modern Democrats shrink from risk, opting for safety, for they are the party of the great Special Interests that are afraid of change.  But why the drive—by manifesto?

We should never forget that there are three world—historical movements competing against each other in the world today. 

There is Civilization, the culture of commerce and law in the city begun in Mesopotamia some 5,000 years ago. 

There is Progressive Puritanism, libertine in sex but rigidly controlling in everything else, a recurring conceit of well—born adolescents.

And now there is Muslim Reaction, a movement that needs no introduction.  (There is also the culture of lefty thug dictators, a sordid sideshow beneath our contempt.)

In the culture of Civilization—which means, let us never forget, citification—city, commerce, and law come together like ham and eggs and hash browns.  The greatness of the city is founded on a simple fact.  It does not grow its own food, so it must trade for it.  Thus it must foster commerce, and as soon as commerce emerges there is a need for law, for businessmen need an efficient way of adjudicating their mistakes and their disputes without destroying the bottom line.

The aftertaste of this happy meal is prosperity and wealth, every time it is tried.

Progressive Puritanism is a horse of a different color.   It emerged just after the beginning of the industrial age.  At the moment that the businessmen of the era were succeeding in a risky scheme of transforming the hungry peasants of Europe and the immigrants to North America into productive industrial wage—earners the sons of the middle class decided that the effort had completely failed.  How right they were.  Look at what happened.

The Steam and Steel era of the nineteenth century merely gave every working man cash wages and food on the table.  The Auto and Electric era of the twentieth century merely put a car in every garage and offered the hope of suburban comfort to every woman (not to mention safe childbirth).  And now the Information era of the twenty—first century merely puts a computer on every desk. 

Progressive Puritanism has always been a drive—by politics of well—born adolescents appalled that the world did not measure up to their high ideals.

So it makes complete sense that Democrats would come out with a drive—by manifesto that blames high drug prices for seniors on Big Drug, and not on the bramble of government drug regulation.

It's obvious that they would blame high gasoline prices on "price gouging" by Big Oil and not on the environmentalists who for thirty years blocked any kind of energy development that did not require enormous subsidy.  Any well—born adolescent majoring in environmental science would agree with that.

The chance of Dignified Retirement is mostly at risk from a pay—as—you—go government Ponzi scheme, but Democrats oppose letting Big Finance take over America's retirement system and setting it to rights.

To Cut College Costs Democrats want to increase subsidies to help parents and students feed the beast rather than attack the monopolistic practices, the tenure, the subsidies, the waste of Big Education.

To Help Working Families, Democrats will crack down on the stingy wages and subsidies of Big Business.  Never mind how the web of Big Government regulation attempts to reduce young business saplings into twisted bonsai trees instead of straight, true trees that reach for the sky.

It's all baloney, but hey, in drive—by politics you never know when one of your wild accusations will hit home with the voters.

Christopher Chantrill  blogs here. His Road to the Middle Class is forthcoming.