by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
If you believe today’s Democratic Party differs in major substantive ways from the Democrats of yesteryear, you’ll find plenty of evidence to back your theory in Takeover: How The Left’s Quest For Social Justice Corrupted Liberalism. Co-authored by former John Locke Foundation Headliner Donald Critchlow of Arizona State University and W.J. Rorabaugh of the University of Washington, Takeover documents over the course of 200 pages the many ways in which leftist radicals abandoned the impassioned — but ultimately futile — 1960s-era protests against the existing political system and embraced more subtle means of infiltrating that system. The authors contend the strategic change led to eventual electoral victories in 2008.
To Critchlow and Rorabaugh, the progressives’ goals in all fields — taxes, environmental policy, rights for various oppressed groups — boil down to three elements: a vaguely defined social justice, elite control, and government power. Their description of the push for health care reform (“The New Progressive Leviathan”) offers a representative sample of their thinking.
Why did the Left make national health insurance a cornerstone of its agenda, pushing to revamp the entire system, even though polls showed that most Americans were happy with the current system? Why did progressive activists want to create a governmental Leviathan, the inevitable result of nationalizing health insurance, with so little likelihood of success in reducing rising health-care costs of reducing the national debt?
The answer to this question is that New Progressives seek to control the everyday lives of Americans. Government regulation expands the power of political and corporate elites. By assuming control through regulation of health care, the progressive Left would gain control over 17 percent of the economy. Just as New Progressives sought to control the environment, population growth, and basic consumption of Americans, they required control over health care — all in the name of saving people from the consequences of their own choices.
As the 1960s came to an end, New Progressives had recognized the ineffectiveness of mere protest. They learned to work within the political, legal, and corporate systems to remake the country. Forty years later they would have their greatest opportunity to extend government’s power in the name of the progressive agenda when a fellow progressive, Barack Obama, emerged on the national scene.