Free Markets, Free People

Kimberly Strassel

The death knell of establishment politics?

As much as the media would like to cast what’s going on during the GOP presidential nomination process as a “crisis for the GOP”, the Dems have their own establishment crisis problem.  And it is getting very little media coverage.  But Kim Strassel talks about it today in her WSJ piece.  As much as the Democrats (and media) would like voters to believe the right is melting down and heading toward Tea Party land, it seems clear the left is getting ready to “Move On.”

On both sides, frustration with the establishment is the most evident feature:

Some of Mrs. Clinton’s struggles are self-imposed. She’s a real-world, political version of Pig-Pen, trailing along her own cloud of scandal dust. Even Democrats who like her don’t trust her. And a lot of voters are weary or unimpressed by the Clinton name. For all the Democratic establishment’s attempts to anoint Mrs. Clinton—to shield her from debates and ignore her liabilities—the rank and file aren’t content to have their nominee dictated.

Especially because many of those rank and file belong to a rising progressive movement that has no time or interest in the old Clinton mold. Barack Obama’s biggest legacy may prove his dismantling of the Democratic center. He ran as a uniter, but he governed as a divisive ideologue and as a liberal, feeding new fervor in the progressive wing.

These progressives proved more eager than even the Republicans to steadily pick off Democratic moderates—and helped the GOP to decimate their ranks. The Democratic congressional contingent is now at its smallest size since before FDR. But boy is it pure, and it retains an unwavering belief that its path to re-election is to double down on the Obama agenda.

I have to admit loving the characterization of Hillary as “Pig Pen”.  That notwithstanding, you’d think Hillary, who has prepared for this since Bill first stepped into the White House, would be a natural choice of the left.  But then how does one explain the rise of someone who uses the term “socialist” to describe himself because communist would likely be a bridge too far?  It’s because the left and right have drifted further apart over the years and the “establishment” of both parties has been set adrift.  It’s because to more and more Americans (who didn’t live during the Cold War and didn’t see the wreck the Soviet Union was when it imploded) are enamored with the idea of “equality” as the left now describes it.  Equal income, high minimum wage, free this and free that.  When you’re an economic illiterate, those things are appealing.  And when you further believe the government is the instrument of all things good, well, you’re on the road to serfdom.

Just as Donald Trump is busy calling out the GOP pretenders to the throne, the lefty heroes are undermining the chances of the anointed one:

The president insists that financial institutions were entirely to blame for the 2008 crisis, and that government’s role is to transfer more from those greedy capitalist owners to poor Americans. Out of this class warfare came the likes of Occupy Wall Street, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, and today a Sanders campaign that describes “wealth and income equality” as the great “moral issue” of our time.

Mrs. Warren, a progressive hero, went out of her way last week to praise the Sanders Wall Street “reform” plan. Even Joe Biden wanted in on the action, lauding Mr. Sanders and suggesting that Mrs. Clinton was still “relatively new” to the income-inequality debate. Hillary is stuck trying to explain why her campaign donations from bankers aren’t a disqualifier.

The usual subjects have also rallied around the Clinton opposition:

These movements and activists (who also embrace the gun debate, and the women’s-rights debate, and socialized health-care debate) are now the beating heart of the Democratic Party. And they are rallying around Mr. Sanders. MoveOn.org has endorsed Bernie. The liberal Nation magazine has endorsed him. Bill McKibben, the head of 350.org, has endorsed him. Jodie Evans, the co-founder of the antiwar group Codepink has endorsed him. Celebrity activists like Susan Sarandon and Mark Ruffalo are feeling the Bern.

Now no one is saying that all that is enough.  But for both parties, if ever they figured out they had missed their wake up call, this is the season that drills that home.  For too long, both establishment parties have taken their voters for granted, essentially merged into a tax and spend entity that no one is satisfied with, and have missed the proverbial boat for government reform.  Of course, reform is defined differently by the right and left, but you get my point.

The party that is in trouble this year isn’t the GOP or the Democrats, per se.  It is the party of establishment politicians who’ve ignored the restless and frustrated voters one election too many.  People are tired of the Obamafication of politics – talk, talk, talk and then do what the hell you want to do.

We’ll see how it all turns out, but it is one of the more interesting political periods of my lifetime – and I’ve been around since Truman.

~McQ

Are Dems Overreaching On Climate Legislation

Kimberley Strassel has a good article in today’s WSJ about what she sees as Democrats overreaching on climate legislation.

For one, they seem to be misreading the public’s support for the radical type legislation that Nancy Pelosi and Henry Waxman favor. Since the recession has hit, people are much less concerned about the environmental impact of certain industries and much more concerned about preserving the jobs they provide.

But it is more than that – the Democratic leadership seems to be misreading the political tea-leaves as well:

To listen to Congressman Jim Matheson is something else. During opening statements, the Utah Democrat detailed 14 big problems he had with the bill, and told me later that if he hadn’t been limited to five minutes, “I might have had more.” Mr. Matheson is one of about 10 moderate committee Democrats who are less than thrilled with the Waxman climate extravaganza, and who may yet stymie one of Barack Obama’s signature issues. If so, the president can thank Democratic liberals, who are engaging in one of their first big cases of overreach.

Not that you couldn’t see this coming even last year, when Speaker Nancy Pelosi engineered her coup against former Energy chairman John Dingell. House greens had been boiling over the Michigan veteran’s cautious approach to climate-legislation. Mr. Dingell’s mistake was understanding that when it comes to energy legislation, the divides aren’t among parties, but among regions. Design a bill that socks it to all those manufacturing, oil-producing, coal-producing, coal-using states, and say goodbye to the very Democrats necessary to pass that bill.

Of course, that’s precisely what the Waxman’s of the party intend to do. As Strassel notes, Pelosi engineered the replacement of Dingell with Waxman precisely to push the more radical agenda.

And 2010 looms:

There’s Mr. Matheson, chair of the Blue Dog energy task force, who has made a political career championing energy diversity and his state’s fossil fuels, and who understands Utah is mostly reliant on coal for its electricity needs. He says he sees several ways this bill could result in a huge “income transfer” from his state to those less fossil-fuel dependent. Indiana Democrat Baron Hill has a similar problem; not only does his district rely on coal, it is home to coal miners. Rick Boucher, who represents the coal-fields of South Virginia, knows the feeling.

Or consider Texas’s Gene Green and Charles Gonzalez, or Louisiana’s Charlie Melancon, oil-patch Dems all, whose home-district refineries would be taxed from every which way by the bill. Mr. Dingell remains protective of his district’s struggling auto workers, which would be further incapacitated by the bill. Pennsylvania’s Mike Doyle won’t easily throw his home-state steel industry over a cliff.

Add in the fact that a number of these Democrats hail from districts that could just as easily be in Republicans’ hands. They aren’t eager to explain to their blue-collar constituents the costs of indulging Mrs. Pelosi’s San Francisco environmentalists. Remember 1993, when President Bill Clinton proposed an energy tax on BTUs? The House swallowed hard and passed the legislation, only to have Senate Democrats kill it; a year later, Newt Gingrich was in charge. With Senate Democrats already backing away from the Obama cap-and-trade plans, at least a few House Dems are reluctant to walk the plank.

Never mind that passage of this bill would most likely retard economic recovery for the foreseeable future, it might also begin to flip the House politically when its consequences are made clear to the public. Waxman and his allies are attempting to poltically arm-twist and bribe enough Democrats to push this through the House, but it apparently faces tough sledding in the Senate, even with a filibuster-proof majority in the offing.

How this ends up is anyone’s guess, but as strange as it sounds, the recession is our best friend in this case. Cap and trade would be disasterous now – not that it wouldn’t be even in a strong economy. And there seems to be building support on both sides to stop it. What you have to hope is that somehow it will then be delayed enough that the mix in Congress changes to the point that the Dem’s radical environmental policy ends up being DOA.

~McQ