Peter Beinart doesn't understand why the Tea Party gets to be the populist movement transforming American politics, instead of whatever latest cargo cult on the Left is these days. In the spirit of bipartisanship - with 'bipartisanship' being defined as 'kicking progressives in the teeth for the amusement of the crowd' - I shall deign to explain things for him, hardline progressives, and everyone else with cognitive disabilities.
- First, and most important point: judging from events from 2001 onward, any nascent political grassroots movement on the Left would be immediately co-opted by the professional activist Left (see "The American Dream" for the latest, rather sad, example along those lines). This, of course, dooms any theoretical left-grassroots groups, as most people do not like to hang out with scum.
Yes, this is going to be one of those kinds of posts.
- Moving along, the (UPDATED) graph to the left from the invaluable Heritage Foundation gives you an idea of the profoundly altered spending situation that we find ourselves in, these days. As you can see, starting in 2008 (which is, not incidentally, after the Democrats took control of Congress in 2007) spending went through the roof without slowing down - and without a consideration to whether we had the money to pay for it. This is pretty much false Keynesianism - Democratic politicians pretty much stop at the idea of 'spending your way out of a recession' - and it's why people got exceptionally concerned about deficit levels; the deficit is exceptionally concerning. Yes, tautology, but you get the point - and it's one that can't really be made by the Left, because they're the ones driving the spending.
- And what did that spending get us? The other graph to the left tells the tale: nothing at all. When the quote-unquote 'stimulus' was proposed back in 2009 - on the back of a TARP that was itself highly controversial - the government argued, very solemnly, that without that stimulus unemployment might hit 9% - but, with it, we'd cap out at 8%. Well, the Tea Party didn't buy that argument at all... and when unemployment took off like a rocket they were pretty much immediately vindicated. When the jobless rate ranges two to three points above the government's own official forecast, it's hard to argue that the government actually knows what it's doing. Which is, by the way, why arguments that the problem was that the stimulus wasn't large enough aren't flying: aside from everything else, those arguments assume that the government wouldn't have just wasted even more money and not made the jobs situation worse.
So, that's pretty much why there's no left-populist movement: the seed solution for it would be made up of groups that are largely instinctively hated by ordinary, decent Americans; the conditions that would (and did) spark a populist movement were largely created by the Left themselves, in the form of the Democratic party; and it's fairly clear by now that the Left's policy and philosophical positions are simply making things worse.
But aside from all of that, sure, there's nothing stopping the Great Left Political Awakening...
Moe Lane (crosspost)