New Op-ed: Can the Mod Squad Beat the Odd Squad?
Can the Mod Squad Beat the Odd Squad?
Can anyone stop “the squad”?
That’s the question gripping the Democratic Party.
The four radical House freshmen who call themselves “the squad” push cultural Marxism, anti-Americanism, anti-Semitism, and watermelon socialism—green on the outside, red on the inside.
The media gives the quartet the star treatment, dutifully amplifying their every utterance. Their party’s presidential contenders treat them with deference, adopting the squad’s radical positions, for the most part, uncritically as their own.
Party leaders cling to the hope that eventually, just as day follows night and candidates who run to the left in the primary run to the center in the general, the moderates will rein in the crazies. Don’t worry about all those nutty plans, they’ll never happen.
But the belief in a “great moderate hope” is misplaced. The Mod Squad can’t beat the Odd Squad.
And as for the Green New Deal being merely “aspirational,” as self-styled moderate presidential candidate Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) called it, one need look no further than California to see those “aspirations” being implemented today.
As Berkeley Goes . . . ?
The Berkeley City Council recently voted unanimously to ban gas stoves, gas grills and gas water heaters in all new buildings. The ordinance further stipulates that should Sacramento adopt even more stringent energy codes, Berkeley will automatically bring city codes into compliance. So much for home rule.
This is a first step in the long march to “decarbonize the economy,” proponents say. The liberal haven has a climate action plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 33 percent by next year and 80 percent by 2050. The city is committed to using 100 percent renewable electricity by 2035.
A fossil fuel ban and the centralization of authority are key features of the Green New Deal. And as this dispatch from the front line in Berkeley shows, it is not an “aspirational” mirage.
It is happening now.
East of Berkeley, over Altamont Pass, you find the Central Valley of California, a basin between the Coastal Range and the Sierra Nevada, 400 miles long and 60 miles wide. With rich soil, 300 days of sunshine, a mild climate, and four growing seasons, the valley boasts some of the best farmland in the world.
Beginning in the 1930s the federal government ensured a reliable supply of water for the valley. Over the next four decades, Washington built the Central Valley Project, a system of reservoirs to capture snowmelt from the high Sierra and a lacework of aqueducts and canals that turned this desert into “the food basket of the world.”
Washington’s attitude toward waterworks changed in the 1970s. President Jimmy Carter drew up a “hit list” of 19 federal water projects, fulfilling a campaign promise to environmentalists and abandoning his party’s once-solid support for massive public works and western water infrastructure.
The greens’ growing influence in the Democratic Party gave wildlife and wild rivers precedence over reservoirs and reclamation. Water management now means diverting dam water from farms to fish and eliminating dams altogether, including the one that provides San Francisco with water and electricity.
Across the Central Valley, signs reading “Growing food is not wasting water” and “Dam water grows food” sprout in dry fields where fruits and vegetables once grew.
Meanwhile, state air-quality regulators fine farmers for using pumps powered by natural gas, even though it’s the cleanest burning fuel available. How do they expect us to grow food? the farmers ask.
From the Party of Workers to the Party of Coastal Elites
The “decarbonization of the economy” is of a piece with the deindustrialization of America.
Deindustrialization destroyed blue-collar jobs; decarbonization will make blue-collar Americans pay more for energy and everything it goes into—food, manufactured goods, and transportation. In every instance, the working class pays for the policy preferences of the upper class.
This coincides with the Democrat Party’s transformation from the party of working people to the party of the professional elites.
The New Left college radicals who took over the party after 1968 ousted the old union guys from party posts and “campus issues” of gender, race, and environmentalism replaced the “bread and butter” issues that had been the party’s center of gravity.
It is, of course, possible to ameliorate the impact of climate change without a socialist revolution. So why is a government takeover of vast swathes of the economy the preferred solution proposed by one of our two major parties?
Can moderates in that party rein in the extremists?
James Burnham provides the answer in his seminal 1964 book on liberalism, Suicide of the West.
Burnham tells us liberals are incapable of criticizing or opposing anyone or anything to their left.
The French summed up the progressive’s attitude: il n’y a pas d’enemi a gauche—”there is no enemy to the left.”
Liberalism is of the Left, and shares with the Left’s more extreme elements common views on secularism, reform, and social change. That cripples the genuine liberal’s ability to mount a full-throated opposition to the extremists:
As the liberal sees it, some persons on the Left are doubtless mistaken in some of their views … but the liberal feels instinctively that their “intentions” are good, that they are aiming at the right goals. . . . [T]hey have the correct ideals and goals, but their methods are wrong.
You can almost imagine Nancy saying these exact words to her aides about the squad.
There’s a reason the squad constantly reminds us they are “women of color.” According to the rules of identity politics, all “persons of color” are to be treated always as “oppressed.”
The liberal is paralyzed by a “feeling of guilt toward the poor and oppressed, who gain an immunity from the moral condemnation that is reserved for the powerful and privileged and for himself,” Burnham writes. When “the poor and oppressed are deployed among the contingents of the Left . . . the liberal’s automatic sympathy with them . . . reinforces his strategic impulse to stand with them.”
This “automatic sympathy with” and “strategic impulse to stand with” the left of the Left means the discussion between the moderate-left and further-left will always be what degree of socialism will we have. “No socialism” is not a choice.
Nancy Pelosi and the “moderates” are constitutionally incapable of standing up to Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib, and Ayanna Pressley.
The Mod Squad can’t stop the Odd Squad. Only President Donald J. Trump can do that.
-Curtis Ellis is Senior Policy Director for America First Policies.