The UK Left’s Political Martyrdom: Welcome to the Church of State

Progressives are a Faithful lot. They live, and die, by a Creed. Welcome to the Church of State.

We saw the religiosity at work again recently in the United Kingdom.  We saw Martyrdom.

When the voters toss out a Left-wing political party (two, actually) for having moved too far left — as just happened in the United Kingdom — the Left interprets it as a call to greater purity to appease the vox Dei … by moving even further left. That the Kool-Aid®-drinking MSNBC’s ratings are in free fall, while Fox’s continue to rise, does not seem to be registering inside NBCUniversal, which, apparently, is willing to take a lot of pain to evangelize the True Faith.

Faith-based politics. Progressives are fundamentalists who, metaphorically speaking, burn heretics at the stake.   Welcome to the new auto-da-fé by other means. Just ask those Christian cake bakers who demurred from baking a cake for a gay wedding. Ask Mozilla’s purged CEO Brendan Eich. Al Gore, at SXSW, one of this Faith’s mass festivals, demanded that those who dissent from the Climate Change narrative be “punished.” Check out the deference shown by the FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler who kneels and kisses the Papal ferula, the rod, of the incumbent Secular Pope, switching positions and imposing 300 pages of terrifyingly ambiguous “Net Neutrality” regulations.

Does this alienate voters? No matter. Progressives gamely embrace Martyrdom for their Faith.

The leftish Labour Party, more or less the UK’s version of the Democratic Party, just was (as were our Democrats) liquidated by the voters, together with the Liberal Democratic Party (whose name speaks for itself). The lesson learned? According to party chairman Ed Miliband in his honorable resignation speech, as reported by The Washington Post:

“The issue of our unequal country will not go away,” he said as campaign workers — some sobbing — tried to absorb the turn of the events. “This is the challenge of our time. The fight goes on.”

Some of Miliband’s high-profile political allies were among the political wreckage.

Ed Balls, Labor’s shadow Chancellor or finance minister, lost his House of Commons — a sign that Britons were not confident of the party’s ability to run the British economy, a big campaign issue.

The challenge of our time?

In the United States, the Democratic Party lurched, relentlessly, left.  It was punished by the voters, in the last Congressional election, with an historic thumping. The Republicans gained a solid majority in the U.S. Senate and the largest majority in the U.S. House of Representatives since Harry Truman. (Since then, however, the GOP’s agenda has been lackluster.)

The formidable Hillary Rodham Clinton, the presumptive (yet by no means secure, being vulnerable from, yes, her left) nominee of the Democratic Party, already had taken up the “income inequality” theme just over a year ago. Asreported by the ever-dwindling

“And where is it all going?” Clinton asked. “Economists have documented how the share of income and wealth going to those at the very top, not just the top 1 percent but the top 0.1 percent, the 0.01 percent of the population, has risen sharply over the last generation,” she said. “Some are calling it a throwback to the Gilded Age of the robber barons.”

Clinton’s rhetoric on economic policy has been under the microscope all year as the Democratic base increasingly rallies behind politicians like Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren who emphasize inequality and corporate malfeasance in stark terms.

Today’s speech suggested Clinton is working on offering her own variation on the theme, one that mixes her work representing the country abroad into a tough critique of the economy at home.

“As Secretary of State I saw the way extreme inequality has corrupted other societies, hobbled growth and left entire generations alienated and unmoored,” she said.

Mrs. Clinton, of course, is being attacked from her left by her newly fledged rival for the nomination, Sen. Bernie Sanders, pushing the income inequality theme.  The lesson the national Democratic Party drew from its electoral drubbing last November (as did Labour, at least as posited by Miliband)?

Move harder Left.

C’est magnifique, mais ce ne’st pas la guerre: c’est de la folie.

Feels like religious fervor.

The Washington Post’s Catherine Rampell — a consistently astute and refreshingly honest, hardheaded, liberal — rather decisively disposed of this line of reasoning in a column just over a year ago: Income inequality isn’t about the rich — it’s about the rest of us:

Yes, anti-inequality rhetoric has grown in recent years. But it’s not the growing wealth of the wealthy that Americans are angry about, at least not in isolation. It’s the growing wealth of the wealthy set against the stagnation or deterioration of living standards for everyone else. Polls show that Americans pretty much always want income to be distributed more equitably than it currently is, but they’re more willing to tolerate inequality if they are still plugging ahead. That is, they care less about Lloyd Blankfein’s gigantic bonus if they got even a tiny raise this year.

“When growth doesn’t lift everyone, the rich are not seen as deserving, and income inequality can symbolize unfairness,” explains McCall, who wrote “The Undeserving Rich: American Beliefs About Inequality, Opportunity, and Redistribution.” As long as the rising tide is actually lifting all boats, people care less if some boats enjoy a bigger lift than others.

The Democrats are mislabeling, and mishandling, the cause of voter concern.  As the Washington Post‘s Aaron Blake points out:

The NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll asked Americans which concerned them more:

  1. The income gap between the wealthiest Americans and the rest of the country
  2. Middle and working class Americans not being able to get ahead financially

In total, 28 percent chose No. 1 — the income inequality argument — while 65 percent chose No. 2.

The Democrats’ myopia, however, will not hand the GOP the White House on a silver platter. As the New York Times wrote on May 3, G.O.P Hopefuls Now Aiming to Woo The Middle Class:

And a Pew poll from February showed that people still believe Republicans are indifferent to working Americans: 54 percent said the Republican Party does not care about the middle class.

Republicans’ emphasis on poorer and working-class Americans now represents a shift from the party’s longstanding focus on business owners and “job creators” as the drivers of economic opportunity.

This is intentional, Republican operatives said.

“If Republican candidates are just repeating the same tired policies, I’m not sure that smiling while saying it is going to be enough,” said Guy Cecil, a Democratic strategist who is joining a “super PAC” working on behalf ofHillary Rodham Clinton.

The new Republican thematic focus on equitable prosperity is welcome. That said, it is as important to do the thing right as to do the right thing.

So far, most of the GOP presidential candidates have been  proposing rather anemic policies for reigniting job creation and economic mobility. None, yet, have tackled the really Big Issue.  The Kemp/Reagan American Economic Miracle explicitly was founded, along with cutting marginal tax rates, on good monetary policy. That was, in fact, delivered by the Fed under Chairman Volcker, with Reagan’s support, and, for eight years, by Chairman Greenspan under Clinton. The Good Money mix then fell apart, and, with it, the climate of equitable prosperity.

Then money factor, central to job creation and economic growth, has been orphaned by the Grand Old Party. The smartest, safest, way to rescue this crucial policy element from its orphanage is the national monetary commission called for in a plank in the 2012 GOP platform, and the legislation sponsored by Rep. Kevin Brady and Sen. John Cornyn in the 113th Congress.

The presidential candidates would do well to take this matter seriously. Unless the Republicans wake up andfollow the money the siren song of the Progressive’s Church of State retains a certain allure.

Meanwhile, welcome to the Church of State.

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