F%$# Me, I Agree with Jeff Greenfield
I’ve always felt that Jeff Greenfield was someone who was more interested in sounding like a deep thinker than he was in actually doing deep thinking, but when he when he evokes George Orwell to criticize the fecklessness of the Democratic Party establishment (There is no Democratic Party establishment), I am forced to agree with him, though I think that he misses the big picture as is his wont.
He sees the problem, but he does not go far enough.
He notes that much of the Democratic Party, particularly the Democratic Party establishment (There is no Democratic Party establishment), is more interested in virtue signaling than getting things done, because they are very well off, and actually addressing inequality would to some degree diminish themselves, particularly among the hoi polloi.
What Greenfield misses, or more accurately is incapable of seeing, is that this is not a blind spot, this a deliberate policy.
The Democratic Party establishment (There is no Democratic Party establishment) does not want to afflict the comfortable and comfort the afflicted because they ARE the comfortable.
They focus on solipsistic mental masturbation, acts like Nancy Pelosi’s now infamous posing wearing a Kente cloth scarf, because there is too much money to be made in making the United States a more unequal and worse place.
Campaign dollars don’t raise themselves.
It is why they actively recruit people like Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema, because they need someone to sabotage them, because otherwise they might have to deliver:
The lament is almost old enough to qualify for Medicare.
“Why are we Democrats losing the working class? Why do they like our policies but vote for the party that comforts the comfortable? What’s wrong with our messaging? What’s wrong with our candidates?”
Odd as it may seem, a partial answer can be found in the works of a writer who never set foot in the United States and who has been dead for more than 70 years. When George Orwell traveled to the Depression-ravaged north of England in 1936, his intention was to chronicle the horrific conditions in the mines, the towns and the homes of the people who lived and worked there. (His account of the near starvation, the hellish conditions in the mines, the sights, sounds and smells of life are still riveting all these decades later).
It is in the second half of his book, “The Road to Wigan Pier,” where Orwell deals with a broader question: If socialism is the way toward providing a fairer, more decent life for those with the least, why has it not succeeded politically? His answer — one that unsettled his Left Book Club’s publisher — was that there was a deep cultural chasm between the advocates of socialism and those they were seeking to persuade.
Orwell, himself a socialist, argues first that “Socialism in its developed form is a theory confined entirely to the [relatively well-off] middle class.” In its language, it is formal, stilted, wholly distant from the language of ordinary citizens, spoken by people who are several rungs above their audience, and with no intention of giving up that status.
It sounds like Orwell is describing, “Kente cloth, or, “Latinix,” doesn’t it?
In the most provocative segment of the entire book, Orwell also cites “the horrible, the really disquieting prevalence of cranks wherever Socialists are gathered together. One sometimes gets the impression that the mere words ‘Socialism’ and ‘Communism’ draw toward them with magnetic force every fruit-juice drinker, nudist, sandal-wearer, sex-maniac, Quaker, ‘Nature Cure’ quack, pacifist, and feminist in England.” And he notes the prospectus for a summer Socialist school in which attendees are asked if they prefer a vegetarian diet.
Yea, the problem is all those progressives, and not the people who are willing to kneecap their own party in order to keep their personal gravy train running.
Notwithstanding his describing himself as a socialist, Bernie Sanders is basically a New Dealer, and significantly to the right of, for example, former Vice President Henry Wallace.
One reason that’s the case is Democrats have not found a way to draw clear, convincing lines separating the most militant voices in their party from the beliefs of a large majority of their base. Consider Orwell’s argument that the language of the left is “wholly distant from the language of ordinary citizens.” Many of today’s Democrats seem intimidated by the preferred phrases of the week, even if few of them embrace or recognize such language. (A recent survey revealed that only 2 percent of Hispanics prefer the term “Latinx” to describe themselves.)
It is — or should be — equally obvious that the policy prescriptions of the Republican Party present a wide-open running field for Democrats to argue on the friendliest of political grounds. The economic core of Democrats’ arguments — a higher minimum wage, lower prescription drug costs, a better chance for college education, with programs paid for by higher taxes on the affluent and mega-rich — enjoy broad public support.
Here Jeff Greenfield misses the point.
While the public and the Democratic Party base may favor those policies, the Democratic Party establishment (There is no Democratic Party establishment) does not.
For the party functionaries, who spend their lives going from meagerly paid party positions to well paid political consulting positions, resolving these issues is bad for business.
They don’t want someone who can deliver on promises, or even someone who can win the general election, they want someone who spends money like water on ……… wait for it ……… political consultants.
They don’t want to win, because for the Democrats and the American public to truly win and to truly make change, the Democratic Party establishment (There is no Democratic Party establishment) would necessarily lose power and money.
As I have noted many times, “The people who control institutions care first and foremost about their power within the institution rather than the power of the institution itself. Thus, they would rather the institution “fail” while they remain in power within the institution than for the institution to “succeed” if that requires them to lose power within the institution.” It’s called the Iron Law of Institutions.
It’s the hypocrisy, stupid.