Monday, June 1, 2015

Annals of derp: Jonah Goldberg on American political theory

Welcome Crooks, Liars, and the people who love them! Thanks, Tengrain.

And on air guitar... Image via Crooks&Liars.
Mike Huckabee doesn’t have a lot of prominent defenders, and I am not volunteering for the job.
Imma let you finish, Jonah....
Huckabee has always struck me as a right-wing populist-progressive. A deeply religious — and by all accounts decent — man...
Not quite all accounts. There's a little disagreement on that score. I mean, just on a couple of issues. Not necessarily anything serious. Or anything.
...Huckabee nonetheless has a view of the state that would have jibed almost perfectly with such forgotten titans of the Progressive Era as Richard Ely, Josephus Daniels, and even William Jennings Bryan.
Ah, here we go. Progressives are the real Prohibitionists, or is it the other way around?
It’s worth noting that the progressives of yesteryear Huckabee resembles were not “right-wing” back then. The original progressives, so beloved by contemporary liberals unburdened with historical knowledge of their forebears, were overwhelmingly religious (and quite often very, very racist).
Oh no, you're not making me do this. Progressivism is not a religious affiliation or a racial animus, some were religious (William Jennings Bryan), some were not (John Dewey, not to mention Bryan's atheist friend, political ally, and occasional debate opponent Clarence Darrow), some were deplorably racist (Woodrow Wilson), others decidedly less so (W.E.B. Dubois). It is a coherent set of social and governmental policy ideas, with a wide variety of adherents, some heroes and some creeps. If you're really trying to suggest Huckabee is a 1910s-style racist, you slimeball, you may, for all I know, be right, but that doesn't make him a progressive in any sense of the term whatever. Does Huckabee believe (as the Quickypedia sums it up)
in the Hamiltonian concept of positive government, of a national government directing the destinies of the nation at home and abroad
and have
little but contempt for the strict construction of the Constitution by conservative judges
now? Would you say his
real enemy was particularism, state rights, limited government
huh? Does he place
a universal and comprehensive system of education at the top of the progressive agenda, reasoning that if a democracy were to be successful, its leaders, the general public, needed a good education
? Would you say he hopes
that by regulating large corporations they could liberate human energies from the restrictions imposed by industrial capitalism
? Does he actively
embrace concepts such as environmentalism and social justice
? Do you know why the progressives of the late 19th and early 20th century were not "right wing"?


And using an activist government to make our society better and above all fairer than it was when William McKinley was alive, including as we understand it today people of color, whether the progressives of a century ago got that part or not (some, like Theodore Roosevelt, though a timid incrementalist by today's standards, certainly did).

And Huckabee may be a "populist" by the flabby current definition, but there's no such thing as a right-wing progressive. It's like a colorless green idea, a self-annihilating concept (as Canadians definitively learned in the failed experiment run between 1942 and 2003). He's a conservative hoping to seduce a few moderately informed elderly people and workers into voting for him by laying off the threats against Social Security, Medicare, and trade unions, but his ideas on wages and taxation, for instance, or racial justice, or education or the environment or financial regulation are as backward as William McKinley or, um, you. He's on your team, pal, and you're welcome to him.

William Jennings Bryan on trickle-down economics:
There are two ideas of government. There are those who believe that, if you will only legislate to make the well-to-do prosperous, their prosperity will leak through on those below. The Democratic idea, however, has been that if you legislate to make the masses prosperous, their prosperity will find its way up through every class which rests upon them.

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