Thursday’s announcement from Senator Elizabeth Warren that she is suspending her campaign for the presidency comes as welcome news. Of the two remaining serious leftists still in the race, she was by far the more dangerous.
Senator Bernie Sanders calls himself a Democratic Socialist, and I believe him. In particular, I believe that the worst thing he has in mind to do to us is something like what happened in post-war Great Britain: if he got his way, the government would nationalize the main industries like mining, steel, auto manufacturing, telephone, cable television, and broadband Internet. He would start a National Health Service. What I don’t think Bernie would do is eliminate Democracy. The levers of government would still be in the hands of officials elected by the people, and they would have considerable influence over how the government operated. And also like Great Britain, we would be free to elect a Thatcher figure to dismantle the whole thing when we inevitably became “the sick man of North America.”
By contrast, Senator Warren appears to be a throwback to the Progressive Movement of the early 20th Century. This is an essentially elitist philosophy that believes that the world would be a better place if the levers of government were in the hands of highly educated experts, technocrats, and planners who would serve the public, but without any input from the public. It is totally undemocratic in nature, desiring a future where smart people wearing suits practice animal husbandry on human beings… for their own good.
We see this in Senator Warren’s design for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. It is a monument to Progressive thought. Although the agency’s first Director was to be appointed by President Obama and confirmed by the Senate, subsequent Directors would be appointed by the outgoing Director, according to a succession plan. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau was to operate totally free of any influence by the President of the United States. The agency’s funding comes from user fees administered by the Federal Reserve. These are what, in government parlance, are called “non-appropriated funds.” That is, the agency operates free of any influence by the Congress either. Here is a government agency with the power to levy fines, and it reports to no elected official. It is a building full of smart people wearing suits who can do whatever they want while swinging the government’s bat. Now that’s Progressive. As it happens, the Supreme Court is now deliberating whether the Director succession features of the legislation are constitutional, and whether the President has the power to fire the Director at will.
A government with several such agencies, isolated from any control by elected officials, would be much more dangerous than anything Bernie Sanders has in mind. Or that Bernie Sanders could actually get done.
The nation dodged a bullet when Senator Warren dropped out. It’s a good thing she is gone.