Stuck in 1938

Charles C.W. Cooke argues that Hillary Clinton’s Uber Speech Belongs in 1930s America:

It is a supreme irony of modern American life that the political movement that terms itself “progressive” is, in the economic realm at least, increasingly passionate about the status quo. …  Like Bill DeBlasio before her, Clinton has seen the list of newly available iPhone apps, and she has grasped her own obsolescence.

If he is smart, the eventual Republican nominee will spend 2016 casting Clinton as the spirit animal of a washed-out and intellectually bankrupt generation that belongs nowhere near the levers of power. If they are really smart, the broader party will make this case broadly and perpetually — and long after next year’s election is over. All political movements are guilty of nostalgia, certainly. But few of them refuse to acknowledge their sentimentality in quite the same way as does the wing of the Democratic party to which Clinton is currently attempting to agglutinate herself. From self-described “conservatives,” one expects a Burkean preference for the tried and tested. From “progressives” — and yes, Hillary used the word today – not so much.

Economically, the Clinton-Sanders-Warren-O’Malley project is stuck squarely in 1938. Theirs is a country in which tax rates can be set without reference to global competition; in which the taxi commission and the trade union are the heroes while the entrepreneurs and the dissenters are a royal pain in the ass; in which families can simply not be trusted to determine which services suit their needs and which do not. It’s a country in which our heinously outdated, grossly illiberal, neo-Prussian educational system is to be set more firmly in place — even as it crumbles and falls. It is a country in which the state must determine which firms are Good and which firms are Bad, and reward or punish them according to its whim. It is a country in which Upton Sinclair is an up-and-coming writer, and in which anybody who doubts the efficacy of federal control is in danger of falling headfirst into a rendering vat.

Most important, perhaps, it is an America in which one’s opportunity to customize one’s life is reserved to the social and sexual spheres.

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