Love Hurts. So Do Progressive Policies.
I've always wondered why liberals would support legislation that obviously harms them. Tax increases, open borders, defunding the police, weakness abroad, eliminating gas-powered cars — these measures harm most people, including liberals, but as California shows, they continue to garner majority support from the liberal base.
There was a time when the cardinal rule of politics was never to admit to supporting a tax increase. Higher taxes, even on "the rich," hurt everyone because they are passed along from the rich to the less affluent. The electorate understood this, and they punished candidates like George H.W. Bush, who lost to Bill Clinton largely as a result of his support for higher taxes.
Now that has changed. A large percentage of liberal voters seems to have no objection to raising taxes, even when they themselves are the target. These voters are, in fact, socialists who believe that Big Government can solve every problem if only it has enough money to do so. These voters don't understand, or don't care, that government spending translates into higher inflation. They believe Biden's lies — that the economy is improving, that there is no inflation, that America is more secure, that gas-powered engines must soon be eliminated, that there is no border crisis, that 57,000 new IRS agents will make life better for everyone.
The reality is that the U.S. economy is hardly growing, inflation is still at more than 5%, and the Chinese are arming rapidly while America's defense budget shrinks in real terms. Biden's progressive policies have set us on a course of self-destruction. Everyday life is noticeably worse than it was when Biden took office, what with lower real wages, supply chain shortages, higher taxes (many of them hidden from view, like the 1% tax on share buybacks that, in effect, constitute a wealth tax on investors and retirees), weakness overseas, and a weakening dollar.
Every visit to the grocery reveals the misery spreading across America: there are fewer shoppers, each of them purchasing less. Even such a successful and well run company as Kroger saw fourth-quarter 2022 results decline from 2021 with EPS of 0.62 vs. 0.75 and gross margins decline. Layoffs are mounting in the tech sector and other industries, and banks have become more selective in making and renewing loans. The office rental market is hard pressed, and, on top of declines in 2022, home builders are "on the verge of a steeper downturn as buyers pull back." America is headed toward self-destruction, yet almost half of Democrats want Biden to run again.
Self-destruction is not too strong a word for it. Even liberals like Larry Summers admit that current spending levels are ruinous. The budget battle between Speaker McCarthy and President Biden will end with McCarthy giving in and raising the debt ceiling because conservatives realize that defaulting on the national debt would be disastrous — and liberals don't care. Many progressives revel in the idea, and the fact, of American decline because they believe that Americans have enjoyed too much wealth and power in the past, and they want Americans to suffer as others in the world have suffered.
Anti-Americanism seems especially evident among extreme environmentalists. Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.'s views on the environment — "floods, droughts, fires, super storms, drowned cities, mass extinctions, wars, and collapsing civilizations" if we don't eliminate fossil fuels — may sound extreme, but it is precisely where most liberals now stand. Wind and solar represent only 4% of our current energy sources; liberals would eliminate the remaining 96%, and eventually wind and solar as well, since the fabrication of wind and solar involves extensive mining and industrial activity.
With no energy of any kind, homes and businesses would go unheated and unlighted, food would not be grown, medicine would not be produced, nothing would be delivered, and nothing more complex than a stone ax would be manufactured. About "mass extinctions," Kennedy is correct — but it is environmentalism that will bring it about, not fossil fuels.
While most people are frightened by the idea of purposely destroying all of our energy supplies, liberals seem to enjoy the doomsday scenario. It's as if they want to suffer, and they want everyone else to suffer with them. Kennedy talks a lot about "giving up" things and about one's obligation to "the community." And communism doesn't seem to bother him as much as corporations. As he once said, "while communism is the control of business by government [something Kennedy supports], fascism is the control of government by business."
This is one of the most misguided statements I've ever heard. Communism is not just the "control of business"; it is the control of every aspect of one's life, and beyond that, it is dependency on the sadistic whim of a single leader possessing unlimited power. Fascism is just another form of collectivism — not the opposite of communism, but akin to it. Seventy years of Soviet rule demonstrated what communism does to the lives of ordinary people. Twelve years of Hitler showed what fascism can do. There was little difference in the results, but, as far as I can determine, Kennedy seems to think communism is just a healthy "control of business by government."
Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. is now second to Biden in the polls for the Democrat nomination in 2024. The sort of environmentalism he preaches — and "preaches" is the right word for it — would entail sacrifices, suffering, and death. Yet it would barely alter climate change, according to reputable sources like Bjorn Lomborg, whose website stresses that "common portrayals of devastation from climate change are unfounded" and that government "solutions" to climate change involve ruinous spending.
Not that Kennedy's environmental views are that very different from those of Biden and the majority of other progressives. What they support is a rapid transition to wind and solar sources of energy (by 2035 or 2030 — 2032 is too late, according to AOC), almost certainly to be followed by a rejection of these sources as well.
At the end of the day radical environmentalists, which is what most Democrats have become, seek a great curtailing of human populations. They support whatever measures will reduce global populations, from birth control, abortion, and sterilization to reductions in energy, food, and basic services. Of course these austere measures are "for thee, not for me," so Gov. Newsom is filmed dining in expensive restaurants during the lockdown and the world's elite fly to Davos each winter on private jets to discuss climate change and population control.
Why do liberals support policies that will harm everyone, including themselves? Because they enjoy imposing restrictions on ordinary people, because they hate America, because they are "true believers" on a mission to transform America even at expense to themselves, because they believe they are more intelligent and thus have the right to demand sacrifice.
Liberals have been praying at the altar of self-destruction for 200 years, and, if anything, they are more radical now than at any time in the past. It's up to conservatives to save America based on a healthy instinct for self-preservation. If liberals want to flagellate themselves with destructive practices, let them do it, but don't allow them impose harm on the rest of us. I would rather be safe and free than a slave to the Chinese communists — or to communists in our own country — and I'll do all I can to remain so.
Jeffrey Folks is the author of many books and articles on American culture including Heartland of the Imagination (2011).