Why the Socialist Surge Now? Part 2

April 12, 2019 Updated: April 12, 2019


The last week of March this year erupted with some of the most disgraceful utterances ever to pollute the country’s public discourse, again demonstrating academia’s shameful record in educating America’s past and present political leaders.

One of the most prominent aspects of this record is ignorance, which was treated in Part 1 of this series about why the United States is experiencing a surge of socialist sympathies at this point in our history. In fact, ignorance and the boorishness that usually accompanies it flaunts its presence, even in casual comments thrown out for public consumption.

Such was the case with a pair of off-the-cuff remarks made by two prominent political personalities.

With Malice Toward All

The first involved former Attorney General Eric Holder, who echoed last year’s comment by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, saying, “I hear these things about ‘Let’s make America great again’ and I think to myself, ‘Exactly when did you think America was great?’”

Not to be outdone in the smear department, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel dismissed Jussie Smollett’s failed racial hoax against Republicans by this facile assertion: “Let me be clear about something. The only reason Jussie Smollett thought he could take advantage of a hoax about a hate crime is because of the environment, the toxic environment that Donald Trump created.”

Trashing America has been all the rage among left-wing political operatives for decades, gushing to a crescendo in the past two years with the presidency of Donald Trump.

What role does ignorance play in such intemperate remarks? In Holder’s case, perhaps a malicious disregard of the entire historical record best characterizes his attitude toward a country that has treated him quite well, in fact.

Apparently, saving the world from totalitarian enslavement twice in the last century (three times, if you include German militarism in The Great War) matters little in his calculations for “greatness,” along with myriads of accomplishments that have benefited ordinary people, here and abroad. Further, being born in a country based on founding documents that embrace correcting past injustices should be counted as a very great blessing.

As far as Emanuel is concerned, he mouthed the typical sort of metaphysical tripe that too often passes for deep thought among loud voices in left-wing circles today. However, if he’s really serious about a “toxic environment,” he should examine the ideological effluent that has engulfed U.S. academia since the 1960s, now ranging from kindergarten through graduate school.

Leftists have done just fine in that “atmosphere”; it’s conservatives who have legitimate fears about being harassed, silenced, or punched in the mouth for their views, as happened on the grounds of UC-Berkeley recently.

Indeed, mobs of the undereducated regularly leap into action nearly every time a conservative speaker appears, or tries to appear, on campus. And any passing acquaintance with the histories of communism and fascism quickly dispels the pretentions of demonstrators who parade their ignorance with placards or shout slogans resembling the sheep’s moronic chant in George Orwell’s “Animal Farm.”

However, the one thing ignorance has in its favor, so to speak, is that it can be addressed by all of us willing to work, and discover how little we actually know and how much we all need to learn. Unfortunately, this can’t be said about other circumstances. Indeed, the most frustrating condition that accounts for the mesmerizing effect of socialism is virtually ineradicable.

Chronic Imprudence

Chronic imprudence is the least offensive way to characterize utterances that range from infantile to intemperate, with a variety of possibilities in between.

On the infantile side of the continuum, anyone who has raised children recognizes traits that become disorders in adults, sometimes to severe levels, as in recent years. The imprudent part involves statements we all make from time to time, without considering their implications, and which often prompt regrets, apologies, and retractions. Then, we move on to act as mature, responsible adults in our lives and professions.

Alas, if that only were the case with politicians today, who too often act with flippant disregard to norms of civilized, temperate behavior. Certainly, this has been the case during the past two years, with regard to the elite media’s excoriation of President Trump. U.S. citizens have been bombarded by elite denunciations that reflect an infantile temper tantrum, continuous attacks that burst with vile and preposterous accusations. Thus, the president has been called a Nazi, white-supremacist, racist, liar, mental defective, traitor, and fascist dictator, plus a stooge to Vladimir Putin.

Politicians have been called bad names throughout our history, of course, but the wrath that spews from the mouths of Trump critics has long since passed all boundaries of propriety and maturity.

In making this point, certainly, it’s true that progressivism’s critics must be careful not to tumble into Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) territory, such as happened at a townhall event on March 29, when she proudly claimed, “We’re not calling anyone names. People say ‘Tea Party of the left’ and I find this phrase very interesting … because the grounding of the Tea Party was xenophobia, the underpinnings of white supremacy.”

Not catching the contradiction, her audience cheered loudly; the rest of us should abstain and think carefully.

It’s against this background that an observer is better able to assess the imprudence surrounding discussion of the most statist and socialist-leaning proposal of the past century—the Green New Deal.

This huge government program is estimated to cost $93 trillion dollars, give or take, over the coming decade, just in time to forestall the death of the world from climate change by 2030. Even better, according to Ocasio-Cortez, is how the Green New Deal would annihilate America’s “garbage status quo,” as maintained by “irredeemable capitalism.”

Further, converting the country to a diet of completely renewable energy systems by 2030 is a most achievable goal, according to Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.): “It is a fact that we can change human behaviors without much change to our lifestyle.”

Better include the planet-threatening behavior of flatulent cows, too; who knows if the country can afford to get a handle on that problem? “Of course, we can afford it,” Harris insists—referring to the entire program. But if we can’t, keep in mind that “It’s not about a cost. It’s about an investment.”

That makes the Green New Deal the mother of all investments, even overshadowing the epic bravery of U.S. soldiers storming the beaches at Normandy who “showed us the way,” according to Beto O’Rourke, repeating the boast of Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.).

More than that, at his Wilsonian best (when that president was losing his faculties, according to some biographers), O’Rourke declared, “We can all come together. … We can convene the countries of the world around otherwise unsolvable problems.” To underscore these challenges, Green New Deal enthusiasts have the support of a whole slew of Democratic presidential campaigners, as well.

Borrowing from Emanuel’s approach, let us be clear and say that Green New Deal cheerleaders and supporters have embraced imprudence as their rallying cry, which entails the refusal to consider consequences of rash actions or statements, scorn for alternate views on important issues, and contempt for rational thought processes that require analyses of cause and effect.

The “chronic” adjective in this definition is as important as the word it modifies; boundless irresponsibility among political elites, especially in the media, inflicts severe and perhaps irreparable damage on the body politic. Indeed, as David Harsanyi pointed out in a huge understatement, “The media have done tremendous damage to the country and themselves.”

Again, that is the polite, understated version. Let’s cut to the chase: No ordinary persons in full command of their senses could possibly take utterances made by Green New Deal aficionados seriously, even discounting for their campaign-bloviating purposes.

The grave danger this poses to the Republic is that chronic imprudence, often reeking of infantilism, appeals to the least knowledgeable and politically naive citizens in our midst, too many of whom are incapable of assessing extravagant claims made by flashy newcomers such as socialist Ocasio-Cortez or old cranks like Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.). An astute citizenry would laugh them off the stage.

Which further explains the surge of socialist sympathies in the United States today; socialism in thought, word, and deed appeals to most ignorant and impressionable minds among us.

What makes this problem much worse are academic policies that embrace trigger warnings, safe spaces, micro-aggressions, “toxic masculinity,” white privilege, and other preposterous notions, virtually guaranteeing that students will be immature, even childlike, for the rest of their lives—in short, chronic imprudence, frequently descending to infantilism, in reacting to political initiatives. Like supporting socialism, for instance.

Trump recently signed an executive order to promote free speech on America’s college campuses, asserting, “We’re here to take historic action to defend American students and American values,” which have “been under siege.” No doubt about that. In fact, much more needs to be done to avoid another generation of citizens who are susceptible to siren enticements of the most genocidal ideology in modern times.

What more could we recommend to the president if we had the opportunity? Our next installment will be devoted to this question.

Marvin Folkertsma is a retired professor of political science and a fellow for American studies with The Center for Vision and Values at Grove City College. The author of several books, his latest release is a novel titled “The Thirteenth Commandment.”

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.