Why liberals are scum and you’re not cynical enough

Paul Mirengoff:

E.J. Dionne of the Washington Post agrees with Bernie Sanders that the big new spending bill passed by the Senate last week falls well short substantively of what’s required from a leftist perspective. “A lot of good was negotiated away,” Dionne sniffs.

But Dionne contends that the bill strikes a blow against cynicism and hopelessness. And “in a democracy cynicism is the enemy of progress.”

My first reaction to Dionne’s column is that there should be cheaper ways to combat cynicism and despair than spending $430 billion. But my second reaction is that no amount of spending can overcome the cynicism and despair of the American left.

The left holds that America is broken. It is incorrigibly racist. It labors under a Constitution that enshrines the views of dead white male racists and, with all of its checks and balance, represents an enormous barrier to meaningful change (Dionne complains, for example, that the Senate is “wildly unrepresentative”). Its laws are enforced by out-of-control police forces bent on harassing blacks and, far too often, killing them without cause.

Worst of all, the world faces the calamitous consequences of climate change. Barring radical changes in industrial policy, and not just by the U.S., we have fewer than ten years left before disaster befalls our species.

Facing imminent disaster in a system rigged to prevent change and a country hard wired to inflict maximum harm on minority group members, how can one be other than profoundly cynical?

The American left has dug itself a deep hole. It demands activism but propounds a bitter ideology the logic of which entails, or at least strongly suggests, that activism is futile.

This marks a major change in leftism. The Marxist model, key parts of which old-fashioned socialists and progressives subscribed to, promises adherents that history is on their side. The class struggle will result in victory for workers. They will enjoy the fruits of their labor — fruits made tasty by the advances wrought by capitalism. History, including its capitalist phase, is a long march forward.

Woke leftism stands much of this on its head. Yes, its adherents are on the right side of history — but only because they are awake to history’s tragic and disastrous course.

For the woke left, history is not a march forward towards a paradise for workers or anyone else of worth. It is a perpetual affront to women, people “of color,” and the environment — one that’s rapidly plunging all of us towards existence-jeopardizing catastrophe.

Marxists celebrated economic growth, including that produced by capitalism. The woke left deplores such growth as the engine driving the world towards disaster. (See this Andrew Stuttaford post and this column by Daniel Hannan describing the left’s millenarianism.)

No spending package can strike a serious blow against this kind of cynicism.

I should add that profound cynicism also exists on the other side of the political spectrum. Many on the right believe the system is rigged to produce bad results.

But the evils the system is producing from their perspective — massive amounts of illegal immigration, assaults on free speech and other core freedoms, and a huge increase in violent crime, to name three main ones — can be overcome by policies it’s not far fetched to believe can be implemented.

Adopting the bipartisan anti-crime measures of the 1990s would curb crime. Adopting Trump’s border agenda would curb illegal immigration. Red states are already fighting back with some effectiveness against woke attacks on our freedoms.

Curbing the power of federal bureaucrats to thwart our democracy by resisting the policies of presidents and Congresses they don’t like is a tougher nut to crack. Significant progress towards restoring the traditional family is tougher yet.

If you believe that anything listed in those previous two paragraphs is possible … you’re too credulous.

But not as tough as rewriting the Constitution to change the structure of our government, radically altering industrial policy in the U.S. and other major economies, and overcoming racism that, in the woke left’s view, is so deep within our national psyche that most of us aren’t conscious of it.

E.J Dionne is right to worry about cynicism and hopelessness on his side of the political divide. He’s wrong to believe that a $450 billion spending bill will dent that cynicism and hopelessness.


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