The 2020 presidential election is the most consequential since 1932. The New Deal fundamentally shifted power from the states, businesses and private citizens to a sprawling federal bureaucracy.
Much of the mainstream media characterizes the contest for the Democratic nomination as a choice between moderate Joe Biden who would tweak free markets and socialists like Bernie Sanders who would rip out capitalism and burn its roots with government takeovers of whole industries and breaking up big tech.
That is tougher for me to swallow than the notion that Donald Trump is an illegitimate president.
In a recent Wall Street Journal op-ed, Obama White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel argues the problem with Sanders is not his goals but how quickly he wants to accomplish them.
Apparently, reformists can succeed in destroying free markets and our constitutional rights if they don't nominate someone so transparently radical that he frightens moderate voters.
Instead, gradually hypnotize the electorate with false promises and seize opportunities during crises, and incrementally compel it to embrace socialism rechristened as progressivism.
The Affordable Care Act was supposed to make health care less expensive. In fact, it excessively subsidies providers and creates a byzantine regulatory framework that reduced what beneficial competition was left in that sector.
The monopolization of markets for hospital services, prescription drugs and physicians and government largess are rapidly making the system too unaffordable to sustain. Now House Speaker Nancy Pelosi wants absolute price controls, but Sanders wants to nationalize in health insurers and give us doctors' offices as moribund and swift as the Post Service.
With the Green New Deal, Democrats would shut down oil companies and nationalize electric utilities and state-manage the entire automobile and transportation sectors.
To get any traction in the Democratic Party these days, politicians must adhere to several basic tenets:
- Capitalism and free markets - not failed government regulation and poorly-targeted spending - are responsible for all slow growth and inequality.
- America was founded and remains controlled by a cynical monopoly of exploitative white males.
- The climate change crisis is a convenient vehicle to accomplish the revolution.
Unfortunately, centrists of neither party — nor their counterparts in Europe — have governed well. Despite breathtaking technological change, economic growth has been halting and families feel stressed as the cost of healthcare, university education and resulting student debt service and housing have risen much more rapidly than incomes.
That's what made Sanders's and Warren's serious candidacies possible.
Fortunately, most Americans don't like socialism. However, they could be persuaded by a Democratic candidate that a little bit more government-like another shot of heroin-will solve kitchen table budget problems when President Barack Obama proved that it doesn't.
It's an article of faith among Democrats that the wealthy should pay for all their schemes.
They have plans to dramatically raise taxes to finance more government intervention in free health care, universal basic incomes and free college-but as conditions in Europe prove, it's the middle class that will pay.
It was narcissistic for billionaire Michael Bloomberg to think he could ride the Donkey Party Express to the Oval Office-or maybe just cynical because he had enough money to monopolize the airways and pay enough Twitter trolls.
Donald Trump's oratory gaffs, and inflammatory rhetoric aimed at his blue-collar base, too often distracts more moderate voters, women and minorities from an essential reality: Trump's right-of-center economic policies are making things better than during the Obama years.
Peter Morici is an economist and business professor at the University of Maryland, and a national columnist. He tweets @pmorici1
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