Saturday, March 9, 2013

Fascist Libertarians

by Robert H.

I continue to be worried by the trend of libertarians dismissing the idea that democracy might be, you know, good.  From Arnold Kling:

Lindberg also notices the hard-line stance of today’s left. This may be the key quote of the essay:
The notion of an invincibly center-right electorate was anathema to the emerging Left 3.0. A key moment in its reconciliation with the Democratic Party was the latter’s abandonment of policies designed with a center-right electorate in mind. For the foreseeable future, the party would lay claim to the center not on the basis of adopting positions to appease moderates and independents, but on the basis of winning more than 50 percent of the vote on election day for candidates congenial to Left 3.0 and garnering majority public support for positions congenial to Left 3.0.
I see this hard-line stance evident in the progressive’s resistance to any suggestion for reducing government spending. You cannot suggest cuts in the short run, because that would mean austerity. You cannot suggest trimming entitlement promises, because Social Security is sacred and control over health care spending is a job for technocrats.

The radical hardliners!  Claiming they should get to enact policies just because they win elections and have policies most people support!  What is this, some sort of representative democracy?

To be fair, this is really common in the "explain why the people who won the last election have novel strategies, an unstoppable political coalition, and will dominate politics forever" genre of writing.  "Unlike in the past, the people who won the last election have hit on the crazy idea of seeking majority support for their policies and candidates, then pushing those policies through while conceding as little as possible to the other side!"  Back under Bush, liberals were all complaining about how divisive Carl Rove's "50 percent plus 1" strategy was.  That was basically the same thing, "These mean old republicans are just trying to win elections and then pass the policies they like.  If they really cared about America they would make huge concessions to our policy positions for the sake of national unity."  Maybe!  Or, you know, we could let the majority rule so long as it respects human rights and our governmental institutions.

I'll let pass Kling's claim that Social Security is sacred to the new left, unfortunately made at the same time the President is calling for chained CPI as a policy concession democrats are willing to make for Republicans.

And my usual caveat: Arnold Kling is the person with whom I most disagree while still enjoying his writing, so I critically comment on his posts a lot.  I'm not trying to stir up some weird internet grudge or something.  Indeed, you can generally assume that if I *don't* write about one of his posts, I basically agreed with it.

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