The Patronizing Party

David Gelernter, a comp-sci professor at Yale has a perceptive but biting editorial on the Democrat’s paternalism towards voters in The Los Angeles Times:

Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid, minority leaders of the House and Senate, respectively, — kindly Mom and Pop to a nation of intellectually limited youngsters. (But thank goodness, they love us anyway.)

How could anyone be opposed in principle to private investment accounts within Social Security? I could understand Democrats arguing that “private accounts are a wonderful idea but the country can’t afford the transition costs right now.” But mostly I hear Democrats saying they’re a lousy idea, and that President Bush wants to wreck Social Security — because, after all, he wants to let you keep a great big whopping 4% of your payroll taxes in a private account instead of handing over every cent to the government. How on Earth could anyone be opposed in principle to letting taxpayers manage a minuscule fraction of their own money (their own money, dammit!) if they want to? Because private accounts violate the Infantile American Principle, so dear to Democratic hearts. Little kids should turn over their cash to the Big Smart Government for safekeeping.

But of course they can’t say that, so instead they say, “Bush wants to privatize Social Security” — as if government were going to wash its hands of the whole mess. The technical term that logicians use for this rhetorical gambit — applying a correct word for one part of a proposal to the proposal as a whole — is “lying.”

Gelernter has a point here. The Democrats have always been the party of big government, and behind their populist rhetoric lies a deep-seated sense of self-superiority. The whole Democratic point of view is predicated on the idea that you are who and what you are because of the state. The doctrine of redistribution of wealth holds that the government should be able to take from the “rich” because without the government the rich wouldn’t have gotten that way. There’s some element to truth to that, but the Democrats take it entirely too far. Such a worldview is analogous to serfdom (as F.A. Hayek noted) — you’re merely a vassal to the state under such a worldview.

The Democrats are a party that’s slowly self-destructing. The Democratic Party is becoming increasingly coastal, and increasingly consisting of two groups — those with a certain sense of noblesse oblige and those who see themselves as the beneficiaries of that predominantly white, urban guilt. The values of the Democratic Party have always been out of lockstep with mainstream America since the liberal takeover in 1968 — but now it’s even more apparent.

It’s one thing to be elitist if you’ve ideas worthy of elitism. However, where are the major Democratic policy proposals? What would the Democrats do to reform Social Security? Where are the energy plans of the Democrats? What have the Democrats achieved other than stamping their foot and saying “NO” to everything? A competent political opposition party would come up with a bold and forward-looking plan to differentiate themselves from the status quo. The Democrats have been unable to do so, and when they try it’s with programs that require more and more government control.

If the Democrats ever want to be an effective party, they have to drop their anti-Bush monomania and their dripping condescension for Middle American values. With only a few exceptions, the Democrats have gone the exact opposite way and have embraced more obstructionism, more overblown rhetoric, and more attacks on people of faith and Middle American values. It’s like the Democrats learned absolutely nothing from the last election.

If it weren’t for the lack of organization and message control coming from the current Republican leadership, the Democrats might be looking at an even bigger loss. The Democrat’s only hope at this point is that the Republicans screw thing up and get so sidetracked from the President’s agenda that nothing gets done — which was looking like a relatively safe bet, but now that Frist and Hastert are sticking to their guns on key issues may not be anymore. The Democrats do treat voters like children, which is why the voters are increasingly treating Democrats like yesterday’s trash. Until the Democratic Party wakes up to this, the marginalization of the Democratic Party will only continue.

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