liberal win

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Brandon Weber lists the top 10 liberal victories of the last 100 years. "If you look at the record," he writes, "it's clear that eventually, inevitably, Liberals always win." Here is his list:

--The end of slavery in the United States

--The right to vote

--The New Deal (Parts 1, 2, and 3)

  • The New Deal: Social Security
  • The New Deal: The National Labor Relations Act of 1935, a.k.a. The Wagner Act
  • The New Deal: Jobs and Banking Reform

--The Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965

--The right of interracial couples to marry

--The Affordable Care Act

--Marriage equality for all

"On almost every one of these," he writes, it's unlikely to change back, unless we really do head to the 1950s, like some would want us to do. Flat out resistance and throwing down in the streets will probably be necessary." Salon's Paul Rosenberg reminds us that, among others, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is "absolutely not" too far left. "DSA's [Democratic Socialists of America] membership has exploded since Bernie Sanders' campaign," he points out, "and the group is not just doing politics but building community." There's also the issues of economics and intellectual heritage:

Adam Smith is regularly referred to as the "father of capitalism," but if you actually read his classic "Wealth of Nations," you could easily mistake him for a democratic socialist who might support an agenda like the one Ocasio-Cortez has laid out, including Medicare and higher education for all, a jobs guarantee, housing as a human right, and clean campaign finance.

In Book 1, Chapter 8 of his landmark work, Smith writes:

Servants, labourers and workmen of different kinds, make up the far greater part of every great political society. But what improves the circumstances of the greater part can never be regarded as an inconvenience to the whole. No society can surely be flourishing and happy, of which the far greater part of the members are poor and miserable. It is but equity, besides, that they who feed, clothe and lodge the whole body of the people, should have such a share of the produce of their own labour as to be themselves tolerably well fed, cloathed and lodged.

"As for what socialism means," Ocasio-Cortez explained it well:

When we talk about the word socialism, I think what it really means is just democratic participation in our economic dignity, and our economic, social, and racial dignity. It is about direct representation and people actually having power and stake over their economic and social wellness, at the end of the day. To me, what socialism means is to guarantee a basic level of dignity. It's asserting the value of saying that the America we want and the America that we are proud of is one in which all children can access a dignified education. It's one in which no person is too poor to have the medicines they need to live. It's to say that no individual's civil rights are to be violated. [...] There is no other force, there is no other party, there is no other real ideology out there right now that is asserting the minimum elements necessary to lead a dignified American life.

As the piece concludes, "It may now be time for socialism to emerge in this country, in distinctively American form. If Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is leading the way, she's definitely not alone." NYT's Michelle Goldberg writes that "Millennial socialists are coming," also identifying DSA as a major force:

But all over the nation, people, particularly women, are working with near supernatural energy to rebuild democracy from the ground up, finding ways to exercise political power however they can. For the middle-aged suburbanites who are the backbone of the anti-Trump resistance, that often means shoring up the Democratic Party. For younger people who see Donald Trump's election as the apotheosis of a rotten political and economic system, it often means trying to remake that party as a vehicle for democratic socialism. [...]

The D.S.A., to which Ocasio-Cortez belongs, is the largest socialist organization in America. Its growth has exploded since the 2016 election -- when, of course, avowed democratic socialist Bernie Sanders ran in the Democratic primary -- from 7,000 members to more than 37,000. It's an activist group rather than a political party, working with Democrats in the electoral realm while also agitating against injustice from the outside.

Many of the D.S.A.'s goals, reflected in Ocasio-Cortez's platform, are indistinguishable from those of progressive democrats. But if the D.S.A. is happy to work alongside liberals, its members are generally serious about the "socialist" part of democratic socialist. Its constitution envisions "a humane social order based on popular control of resources and production, economic planning, equitable distribution, feminism, racial equality and non-oppressive relationships."

Paul Krugman concurs, observing that radical Democrats are pretty reasonable:

So, about Ocasio-Cortez's positions: Medicare for all is a deliberately ambiguous phrase, but in practice probably wouldn't mean pushing everyone into a single-payer system. Instead, it would mean allowing individuals and employers to buy into Medicare - basically a big public option. That's really not radical at all.

And if we're talking economics rather than politics, every advanced country except America has some form of guaranteed health insurance; decades of experience show that these systems are workable; and they all have lower costs than we do. Calling for us to do what everyone else has managed to do is perfectly reasonable.

What about a jobs guarantee? Ocasio-Cortez's proposal can be thought of as a rise in the national minimum wage to $15, combined with a sort of public option for employment in case that wage rise leads either to private-sector job losses or an increase in labor force participation.

Now, there's a huge amount of evidence to the effect that minimum wage hikes don't significantly reduce employment. To be fair, however, $15 is outside the range of historical experience, and you can make a plausible case that in low-productivity regions like much of the south there would be some job losses. On the other hand, those are precisely the regions that could really use some aid.

On the subject of Ocasio-Cortez, Krugman writes that "she's advocating a more responsible policy than that actually enacted by Republican in Congress:"

The point, in any case, is that while a jobs guarantee is probably further than most Democrats, even in the progressive wing, are willing to go, it's a response to real problems, and it's not at all a crazy idea.

So next time you hear someone on the right talk about the "loony left," or some centrist pundit pretend that people like Ms. Ocasio-Cortez are the left equivalent of the Tea Party, ignore them. Radical Democrats are actually pretty reasonable.

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This page contains a single entry by cognitivedissident published on July 4, 2018 4:56 PM.

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