‘We need to be an America that dreams big,” Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts declares, in her familiar presidential campaign riff. But on this day set aside to show appreciation for our military veterans, Americans know they live in a country that has been dreaming big, working hard – and when politicians get out of the way – succeeding spectacularly for 243 years. An America so very many have found to be worth sacrificing lives and limbs for.
The “Change” Barack Obama ran on in 2008 has now putrefied into the call for full-scale revolution. The precept at the heart of the candidacies of all the leading Democrats running for president in 2020 is that this country is morally bankrupt, socially dysfunctional, economically oppressive, and has racial bigotry weaved into the very fabric of its national soul. It must be dumped and replaced with a New, Improved “America.” Nothing but the name, the flag, and a Constitution whose words are ignored or twisted by federal judges will remain.
It’s as if Travis Bickle, the violently disturbed Robert DeNiro character in “Taxi Driver,” whose cinematic exploits inspired John Hinckley’s attempted assassination of Ronald Reagan in 1981, had it right when he told fictional presidential candidate Sen. Charles Palantine it was “like an open sewer. It’s full of filth and scum,” and the next president “should flush it down the toilet.”
As recently as 1988, a Democratic candidate, Massachusetts Gov. Michael Dukakis, a Democratic presidential nominee further to the left than all who came before him except George McGovern in 1972, was distancing himself from his party’s radicalism with the catchphrase, “This election isn’t about ideology; it’s about competence.”
A breath later, Dukakis, boasting a rock-bottom state unemployment rate thanks to a high-tech boom, told the convention delegates who had nominated him, “it’s about creating jobs in middle America … it’s about creating opportunity on Main Street … And just as we Democrats believe that there are no limits to what each citizen can do, so we believe that there are no limits to what America can do.”
Dukakis’ idea of dreaming big was a little different from that of fellow Bay Stater Warren. Dukakis said, “we are the party that believes in the American Dream. A dream so powerful that no distance of ground, no expanse of ocean, no barrier of language, no distinction of race or creed or color can weaken its hold on the human heart. And I know because, my friends, I’m a product of that dream and I’m proud of it.”
No accusations of racism against the opposing party are to be found in Dukakis’ speech, or in his debate with George H.W. Bush. Nor any complaints about income inequality, as Americans reveled in an extended Reagan economic recovery.
Racist, Greedy, Corrupt America
What a contrast to Warren, who in the last Democratic debate raged about “three people owning more wealth than the bottom half of American society. That is a moral and economic outrage. And the truth is, we cannot afford to continue this level of income and wealth inequality.”
Even Microsoft founder Bill Gates, up there with those richest three Americans but far from an economic conservative, was openly skeptical of Warren, saying during a New York Times conference Wednesday, “I’m not sure how open-minded she is or that she’d be willing to sit down with someone who has large amounts of money.” But according to Warren (who reacted by welcoming a meeting with Gates), “we cannot afford a billionaire class, whose greed and corruption has been at war with the working families of this country for 45 years.”
Forty-five years. That goes back to the mid-1970s. Apparently the senator’s own party’s presidential nominee 31 years ago, from her own bluer-than-blue (even then) state of Massachusetts, was unaware of this national civil war between the tycoons and the toilers.
We have to enact a wealth tax, according to Warren, “so we can create a nation and a government that works for all of us.” In other words, the country Michael Dukakis, son of immigrants, was so proud of, and the American Dream he attained, are all a silly capitalist delusion.
Contrast Dukakis to the rhetoric and governmental social engineering designs of the rival snapping at Warren’s heels, South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, who, outlandishly, may ultimately be chosen by Democrat voters as a less extreme, more electable alternative to Warren. America is plagued by “systemic racism,” Buttigieg said on night two of NBC’s June debate, by “a wall of mistrust put up one racist act at a time, not just from what’s happened in the past, but from what’s happening around the country in the present.”
Buttigieg’s “Douglass Plan” would spend tens of billions opening wide the gates of high-security prisons – with most of the future victims of those who would be released certain to be non-whites – and having Washington dictatorially politicize the teaching of slavery in public schools, plus hyper-regulating banks’ loan practices toward non-whites. Because the U.S. is an evil, racist country that incarcerates innocent multitudes, peddles lies in the classroom about its past, and denies mortgages to families of the wrong color.
Joe Biden may not use Warren and Buttigieg’s inflammatory language, but he knows that to have a chance of securing the nomination of today’s Democratic Party, he must accept their precepts. “We do have enormous income inequality,” Biden said during the June debate. “White folks are the reason we have institutional racism,” he said in August. “There has always been racism in America. White supremacists have always existed. They still exist.”
On the contrary, the Manhattan Institute’s Jason Riley recently cited in the Wall Street Journal some of the evidence of how racial discrimination long ago ceased being the greatest barrier to black economic advancement, noting the work of sociologist William Julius Wilson and his 1978 book “The Declining Significance of Race.”
Don’t expect the likelihood of the field of Democrats being joined by ex-Big Apple mayor Mike Bloomberg, a.k.a. The Ego That Ate New York, to improve anything. On top of racism and greed, America is guilty of the additional sin of being fat, according to Bloomberg. “Obesity is a nationwide problem, and all over the United States public health officials are wringing their hands saying, ‘Oh, this is terrible,’” Bloomberg declared in 2012 as he tried to ban the sale of Big Gulps and other large sodas, before a court stopped him.
This Isn’t Bill Clinton’s Democratic Party
The comparison with Dukakis is one thing, but Warren, Buttigieg and even Biden are much further removed from the Democrats’ first full two-term president after FDR, Bill Clinton. It is unimaginable that a Democrat today would allow himself to be heard expressing the kind of skepticism of government solutions and faith in the private sector that Clinton did as he accepted re-nomination at the 1996 Democratic Convention in Chicago.
“The welfare reform law I signed” provides “a new social bargain with the poor … requiring able-bodied parents to work” said Clinton, sounding like an invited speaker at a CPAC conference. He added, “we have a moral obligation to make sure the people who are being required to work have the opportunity to work. We must make sure the jobs are there” – and President Clinton made it clear he meant private sector jobs.
How to do it? Not a wealth tax like Warren’s, or any other kind of new tax, but tax relief. Clinton proposed “to give businesses a tax credit for every person hired off welfare and kept employed. I propose to offer private job placement firms a bonus for every welfare recipient they place in a job who stays in it.”
Granted, this was the all-too-typical Democrat way of cutting taxes, demanding that taxpayers jump through government’s preferred hoops to be given the cuts, but even this concept is anathema to the Democrats today who most excite the party’s base, not only Warren and Bernie Sanders but The Squad’s Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York and their ilk.
Imagine the boos a Democrat would endure repeating Clinton’s insistence that “the Government can only do so much. The private sector has to provide most of these jobs … I want to build a bridge to the 21st century that ends the permanent underclass, that lifts up the poor and ends their isolation, their exile.”
It ended up being a bridge too far for the left. The next Democratic president, Barack Obama, would dismantle much of Bill Clinton’s welfare reform, a milestone that greatly helped in his 1996 re-election, confounding GOP attempts to portray Clinton as a radical.
Of all the many untruths the 42nd president uttered, the biggest may be his declaration in his 1996 State of the Union address that “The era of big government is over.” Elizabeth Warren asks Americans to let her spend tens of trillions of dollars of their money, and Pete Buttigieg proposes a transformation of what he declares to be an American society that is, and always was, sinister to its very core.
The era of Big Government, far from being over, hasn’t even really begun as far as today’s Democrats are concerned. Because it will take a state bigger and more intrusive than any ever known to flush the U.S.A. down the toilet.
This article first appeared at Issues and Insights, written by Thomas McArdle.