By Doug Magill
There has been a strain of progressivism in Democrat politics for a long time. It is only recently that it has become dominant. President Obama has rescued that dormant dream and shoved it to the center of our national consciousness; only few people are talking about what it really means.
In its early stages progressivism was focused mainly on workplace reform, an instinct that gradually morphed into social reform and ultimately societal reform. Liberalism has many tentacles but since the 1960’s has become more anti-society than anything else, and is focused on radical change to – if not the destruction of – all of our political institutions.
With the radicalism embodied in Obama’s plans for America there is little meaningful distinction between liberalism and progressivism. The salient point is the marriage of the progressive vision of a better society guided by experts who think there is an optimal way to plan and manage everything, and the liberal tendency towards autocracy.
They want to run the government and make you do things their way. If that sounds familiar it certainly has echoes of that grand if failed liberal experiment off to the East formerly known as the Soviet Union.
Obama has certainly expressed his frustration at having to deal with Congress because he can’t just order something to be done. And yet, he has found many ways to circumvent Congress, giving executive orders where no legal precedent or supporting law exists. It will be years before all that is litigated out, but if there is one things liberals have a surfeit of it is idealistic and cheap legal assistance.
Still the liberal temptation to authoritarian government is strong. Mike Bloomberg in New York and his silly proclamations are the most recent examples, but there are certainly many others. It is still with sadness we recall the many supposedly intellectual liberals that actively and vociferously supported true authoritarian regimes: the Soviet Union, Nicaragua, Cuba, Venezuela, China…the list is long.
Closer to home it seems that the Democrat party has become home for the witches brew which is the unholy marriage of progressivism and liberalism. It is beginning to be more obvious in its support of the liberal desire to obviate the need for democracy. It is too messy and gets in the way of their objectives.
The Anti-Democracy Democrat (ADD) party has been engaged in some pernicious efforts to undermine our republic recently.
Obama’s controversial recess appointment of Richard Cordray as the head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) is a striking example. Instituted by the Dodd-Frank bill, the organization is ostensibly part of the Federal Reserve but can choose its own budget, is not subject to oversight by Congress, is not answerable to the Fed and its head cannot be removed for cause. Designed by Massachusetts’ Indian poseur Elizabeth Warren, the CFPB was fathered with the intent to insulate the organization from political influence. The effect, however, is an offspring without accountability.
Political influence can be messy, but at least it means that there is accountability to the electorate at some point. The CFPB is a bureaucratic dictatorship with no ability to constrain or control it.
The now-infamous Independent Payment Advisory Board is another example. To be implemented as part of Obamacare, the board is comprised of 15 members who are appointed to staggered terms but again, cannot be removed for cause. Their main focus is constraining the rise in costs of Medicare and their recommendations can only be overridden by a supermajority in Congress.
Many in the media have screamed that there is nothing in the creation of the IPAB that requires them to ration care, but it doesn’t take much analysis to conclude that their recommendations will include the approval of and elimination of certain kinds of services due to cost factors. The results will distort not only demand but what is practiced in medical communities, and will have a chilling effect on the implementation of new technologies which are arguably more expensive when first adopted.
Yes, that means certain types of medical practices will be scarce and hard to receive. Rationing by another name.
The intent was to remove power from Congress and give that power to an unelected board. As any economist will tell you, reducing costs does not reduce demand although it may well reduce availability. It will certainly cause the elimination of some procedures and cause some hospitals and many physicians to opt out of providing Medicare services altogether.
We have another example of that tendency in Ohio via the union-sponsored effort to remove the drawing of legislative districts from political influence. State Issue 2, if approved, would engender the creation of another “expert” board which would supposedly be objective in its drawing of the map in Ohio.
The fact that the unions disguised their efforts through front groups before they were called out should indicate their desire to control that board though the appointment of members sympathetic to their needs. Of course, members of that board cannot be removed for cause and they get to set their own budget.
In Michigan a more insidious effort is proposed in State Issue 2, which would modify the state’s constitution to embed the right to collective bargaining – removing it forever from voter or legislative oversight. Estimates vary, but it would invalidate over 170 current laws and would tie the hands of communities in negotiating with any unions.
For a state struggling with expensive and unwieldy contracts already, diminishing the ability to bargain will increase the ratchet in costs for out of control wages and pensions and accelerate the decline of communities and the state.
In each of these examples democrats and the primary donors to the democrat party – unions, desire to remove things from the purview of voters and legislators so that authoritarian powers can be vested in designated experts.
None of which is healthy for a democratic republic.
Or course none of this is new to unions who for decades have attempted to use intimidation and backroom deals to solidify power and avoid not only scrutiny but any accountability to the public.
One of the saddest things in all of this is either the inability or the unwillingness of the media, supposedly the watchdogs of our freedom, to expose the corruption and diminishment of our liberty through all of these liberal-progressive initiatives.
Having to deal with voters is messy, frustrating and sometimes leads to less than optimal results.
But it is our way.
These attempts to circumvent democracy are part of a hidden attempt to push us into a long slide to an authoritarian government – government in which we would all be diminished.
It has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all the others that have been tried. Winston Churchill
Doug Magill is a freelance writer and voice-over talent. He can be reached at email@example.com