Live Free Or Die: America (and the World) on the Brink (7 page)

BOOK: Live Free Or Die: America (and the World) on the Brink
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Both these leftist successes were possible because the American left mobilized behind them, Beinart argues. That's why we should take seriously the left's current mobilization. The “third left,” as Beinart calls it, began in 2011 with Occupy Wall Street—young people protesting the financial crisis. Other triggers followed, such as George Zimmerman's acquittal for killing Trayvon Martin, which “launched Black Lives Matter.” Bernie Sanders, he notes, went outside the Democratic Party structure for support—principally from the Occupy network and eventually Black Lives Matter. This was significant, because Sanders's “campaign became a funnel through which the activist left entered the Democratic Party's mainstream.” Since then the left has gained greater control of the party and “remade” it in certain respects.

Beinart also notes that today's Democrats “are embracing Big Government policies dismissed as utopian or irresponsible only a year or two ago,” such as tuition-free college and federal job guarantees.
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He
imagines that if Democrats regain the presidency and Congress and try to enact ambitious leftist policies, they'll likely meet stiff resistance from a conservative minority that would rely on the filibuster and the Supreme Court to obstruct the Democrats' agenda. He contends that the history of the 1930s and '60s shows that if such an impasse occurs, Democrats will succeed only through outside pressure from leftist activists, which is likely to occur because the activists are more mobilized today than they have been in decades.

If activist pressure doesn't work to soften GOP opposition, says Beinart, Democrats may resort to legislative trickery to advance their agenda. They could expand the use of the “reconciliation” process to pass legislation, limit the use of the filibuster, or even try to pack the Supreme Court like FDR attempted. We should pay attention to this warning, coming from a leftist sympathizer, that Democrats could bend or break the rules to get their way. In fact, they've been a party of lawlessness for some time. Obama demonstrated this with his unconstitutional executive orders (his “phone and pen”), his administration's harassment of conservative groups and taxpayers through the IRS, and his abuse of counterintelligence programs to illegally spy on the Trump campaign. Obviously, as the Democrats see it, to achieve a goal as ambitious as fundamentally changing America, they may have to take some liberties here and there with the rules, laws, and constitutional rights of American citizens. The current slate of Democratic candidates and their supporters look ready to do whatever is necessary—legal or illegal—to finish the job.

Beinart anticipates a further GOP backlash in the event Democrats resort to such measures. With the two sides thoroughly polarized and vying for their respective positions, Beinart says this “third left” movement will prevail only if it can “convince Americans that the true cause of radicalism is injustice, and the best guarantee of social peace is a more equal country.”
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“HIJACKING THE ELECTORAL COLLEGE”

The Democrats' elaborate schemes to abuse their power are ironic considering their main complaint against President Trump is that he maliciously “abuses his power” and “interferes” with “our democracy.” In fact, this leftist Democratic Party has no respect for the system they pretend to uphold. If they did, they wouldn't be attacking it with designs from abolishing the Electoral College, to packing the Supreme Court, to effectively eliminating our borders, to stripping our civil liberties. While complaining about alleged Republican corruption they are active agents of chaos, trying to undermine the system itself at every turn—whatever it takes to make America “more equal.” Just as the Democrats themselves were the ones interfering with the 2016 presidential election while falsely accusing Trump of having done so, they are the ones threatening our constitutional order while pointing the finger at Republicans.

Democrats tirelessly accuse Trump of being a tyrannical autocrat—an authoritarian who flouts the Constitution and believes he is above the law. During the impeachment trial, Congressman Jerry Nadler even accused Trump of being a “dictator,”
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apparently unaware that dictators don't allow themselves to be impeached. Once again, the Democrats are projecting—it is
they
who refuse to accept elections they lose, pay for phony dossiers falsely accusing their political opponents of treason, and skew our constitutional norms for their own political benefit.

In fact, Beinart's prediction that Democrats might try to pack the Court has already come true. Frustrated that President Trump has appointed justices and judges who will uphold the Constitution rather than bend it to the left's political ends, multiple Democratic presidential candidates proposed adding justices to the Court. Beto O'Rourke, Pete Buttigieg, Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, and Kirsten Gillibrand all said they would add judges or consider the move.
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While Biden didn't join the Democratic field on this issue, he has shown his flexibility under party pressure, so we have no assurance he won't eventually come on board.

Similarly, in light of Presidents George W. Bush and Donald
Trump becoming president without winning the popular vote, Senators Cory Booker, Kamala Harris, and Elizabeth Warren support, or would consider, abolishing the Electoral College. Here again, Biden didn't join the pack, but we can't rely on him not bending later. The framers wisely designed the Electoral College to establish republican government instead of pure democracy in order to bolster the power of the states, reduce electoral fraud, and protect minority rights. “Our founders so deeply feared a tyranny of the majority that they rejected the idea of a direct vote for President,” says legal scholar Tara Ross. “That's why they created the Electoral College. For more than two centuries it has encouraged coalition building, given a voice to both big and small states, and discouraged voter fraud.”
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But Democrats don't like the results that the Electoral College sometimes yields, so they are attacking this institution from numerous angles. Senators Brian Schatz, Dick Durbin, Dianne Feinstein, and Kirsten Gillibrand introduced a constitutional amendment to abolish the Electoral College and elect presidential candidates by national popular vote.
55
Knowing this proposal had little chance of succeeding, progressives proposed the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact (NPV) to circumvent the Electoral College and the Constitution's high bar for amendments. Under the plan, states would agree to ignore their own voters' choice and select their presidential electors based on the national popular vote.
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“If you think that through, it really… hijacks the Electoral College… to do exactly what the American Founders rejected, which is to create a direct election system, a national popular vote, a direct election for president of the United States, rendering state lines irrelevant, rendering state governments and state laws potentially irrelevant in the process,” says Trent England, director of Save Our States, a program to preserve the Electoral College.
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England helped launch the organization in 2009 after several states adopted the NPV from 2007 to 2009. This effort worked well until Trump's Electoral College victory over Hillary Clinton in 2016, which revived the momentum for NPV. Now some fifteen states, plus the
District of Columbia, with a total of 196 electoral votes, have joined the compact.
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The agreement won't take effect unless the signatory states have a total of 270 electoral votes. If that happens, the Electoral College will be effectively nullified and presidents will be elected by national popular vote, despite the fact that it's unconstitutional. The framers viewed the Electoral College as a crucial constitutional safeguard, but since it's not working to the Democrats' advantage, it has to go.

THE FLAWED PREMISE OF EQUAL OUTCOMES

Beinart apparently believes leftist militancy is justified because the “third left” will effect transformational change only if it can convince Americans that its radicalism is a natural response to society's injustices and that its goal is “a more equal country.” Beinart is not considered radical compared to many on the left, so his justification of this militancy is an ominous sign that should serve as a wake-up call to conservatives.

As long as patriots resolve to defend this nation's guarantees of liberty, the left will have difficulty extorting the electorate to cater to their demands in exchange for social peace. Progressives are free to try to persuade Americans that socialism is a superior and fairer system, but not through threats of violence. Such tactics would meet resistance in any period of American history, but today, leftists will find it even harder to prevail because grassroots conservatives and the Republican Party have never been more united. Awakened to leftist extremism, hatefulness, and intolerance, and fully aware of what is at stake, we have begun to fight back under the leadership of Donald Trump. We must continue to do so. I believe that we will win this battle if we conservatives make the case relentlessly and convincingly to the American people, especially younger people, that America's founding principles are no less worthy now than when conceived by the framers and that the system of government they gave us is still the best guarantee of liberty and prosperity.

Conservatives must refute Beinart's flawed premise. The
promise of this country has never been income equality. Its guarantee has always been, and must continue to be, opportunity for all. Forced equal outcomes are themselves unfair and destroy liberty and prosperity. We must never let the American people or their elected representatives be held hostage to radical mobs who threaten social unrest unless their socialist demands are met, and who offer social peace only in exchange for our abandonment of the American dream.

Prior to the coronavirus outbreak, economic conditions for all income groups improved under President Trump, and wages were at an all-time high, which would have made the left's task of seducing voters into accepting socialism that much tougher. Regardless of what impact the virus-induced economic slowdown will have on voters, conservatives must continue to explain the dangers of socialism. Income inequalities have always existed, and not because of capitalism. Under a socialist system income may be more evenly distributed, but only because everyone has less except for the ruling class, which has existed in every socialist country throughout history.

There's also something more basic we should consider. Conservatives and progressives have fundamentally different outlooks on economic growth and opportunity. The left generally believes economies are finite, which means that if the wealthy get wealthier there will be less for everyone else. Free market advocates know that economic growth expands the pie, and that one person's gain is not necessarily another's loss. Indeed, studies show that even when there are increases in income inequality, there is not generally a decline in upward mobility.
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That is, Bill Gates growing rich does not keep other Americans from improving their own standard of living. If anything, it opens doors of opportunity for them. “Standards of living have increased for everyone—as have incomes—and mobility, however one measures it, remains robust,” write Heritage Foundation scholars Rea Hederman and David Azerrad. “Simply put, how much the top 1 percent of the population earns has no bearing on whether the bottom 20 percent can move up.”
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We have direct evidence of this with the Trump economy. To the
chagrin of class warfare demagogues, under Trump's economy—again, prior to the coronavirus downturn—Census Bureau records show that while Americans' standard of living is improving across the board, the share of income for the top 20 percent fell by the largest amount in a decade, and households between the 20th and 40th percentile had the largest increase in average household income in 2018.
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But the facts don't matter to Democrats. They focus on income inequality because they have no ideas to help the poor, argues Akhil Rajasekar in the
Federalist
. And make no mistake, Biden has been pandering to middle-class voters on income inequality like the rest of his rivals—while simultaneously raking in money from his rich donors.
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Even if the income gap between rich and poor or between rich and middle class increases with free market policies, should you oppose those policies if everyone's living conditions improve? If socialist policies decrease the income gap but all groups are worse off, what have you gained? “Here is the problem with thinking in terms of inequality,” writes Rajasekar. “By focusing on closing the gap, one is only concerned with the
differential
between the two classes, regardless of how each class is doing independently…. Diverting existing wealth by force of government will close any economic gap, no matter how large. But, as the post-revolutionary French will attest, pulling down those at the top is never a sustainable solution to inequality. Instead we must seek to raise our overall economic health so that bridging the wage gap becomes a natural side-effect of market conditions, not a forced outcome.”
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That's true. The left's economic policies kill economic growth, so they resort to class warfare. But they can't have it both ways: if they foment jealousy and resentment among Americans and pursue policies to equalize outcomes, they will shrink the economic pie. Increasing taxes and transfer payments smothers economic growth, which explains why Democratic icons Jimmy Carter and Barack Obama urged us to lower our expectations and accept permanent economic malaise. Each time, their respective conservative successors—Reagan and Trump—proved them wrong. But as long as the left, when in
power, implements radical policies based on class envy, they'll never preside over a robust economy. To embrace growth policies, they'd need to abandon class warfare, and that's not in their DNA.

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