By lustily embracing neo-progressivism, an ideology that lifts ambitious politicians far above traditional democratic norms, U.S. Democrats have abandoned the prescriptions of classic liberalism and left on the roadside author of The Wealth of Nations Adam Smith and liberal politicians such as President John F. Kennedy. Neo-progressivism can be traced to socialist theory, liberalism to the liberating architects of American democracy.
Those who have seen Tennessee Williams’ play A Streetcar Names Desire likely sympathize with the play’s female lead, Blanche Dubois, who is beset on all side by savage males. At the end of the play, she is carted off to an asylum muttering bravely to one of the medical personnel, “Whoever you are—I have always depended on the kindness of strangers.” And she is whisked off stage, a torn and tragic figure.
Such is the condition of Connecticut’s Republican Party – dependent entirely on the kindness of Democrats who have abandoned the central precept of liberalism – which is that people, not politicians, must rule, so that the people are not pushed by politicians into mare’s nest of want and dependence upon their overlords.
Most Republicans and all Democrat office holders in the state know that you cannot exercise political free choice unless you are in office.
Connecticut Republicans, both on a national and state level, have not exercised political power for years. The last Republican governor of Connecticut was Jodi Rell (2004-2011). All the members of Connecticut’s U.S. Congressional Delegation are now Democrats, the last Republican survivor being U.S. Representative Chris Shays, who lost to U. S. Representative Jim Himes in the 2008 race. Democrats hold all of the constitutional offices in the state, and the breakdown of Connecticut’s party distribution puts Republicans at a severe disadvantage. Registered Democrats outnumber registered Republicans in Connecticut roughly by a two to one margin, a high hill to climb during state and national elections.
The losses of Republicans in the U.S. Congressional Delegation may and should be attributed to GOP candidates presenting themselves to voters as fiscally conservative and socially moderate. All the Republican members of the state’s U.S. Congressional Delegation who have presented themselves in this manner, were easily mowed down by Democrats claiming in their campaigns to be fiscally moderate and socially liberal.
As the national Democrat Party in the intervening years moved steadily left, elected Democrats in the U.S. Congress moved left with the inexorable tide. The same movement is apparent in state offices.
The Democrat Party is no longer the party of John F. Kennedy, as may be seen by anyone who takes a gander at Kennedy’s defining address to The Economic Club of New York in 1962.
The entire address, provisions of which were enacted after Kennedy’s assassination in 1963, was regarded by Kennedy as a necessary defense of the county’s free market system and its historic attachment to the liberal and liberating ideas of Adam Smith.
The U.S. economy, Kennedy noted, “is capable of producing, without strain, 30 to 40 billion [dollars] more than we are producing today. Business earnings could be seven to eight billion higher than they are today. Utilization of existing [industrial] plants and equipment could be much higher -- and, if it were, investment would rise. We need not accept an unemployment rate of five percent or more, such as we have had for 60 out of the last 61 months. There is no need for us to be satisfied with a rate of growth that keeps good men out of work and good capacity out of use…”
How should the federal government meet its obligation and responsibility to aid economic growth?
“We can and must improve American education and technical training,” the President declared. “We can and must expand civilian research and technology. One of the great bottlenecks for this country's economic growth in this decade will be the shortages of doctorates in mathematics, engineering, and physics -- a serious shortage with a great demand and an undersupply of highly trained manpower. We can and must step up the development of our natural resources…
“But the most direct and significant kind of federal action aiding economic growth is to make possible an increase in private consumption and investment demand -- to cut the fetters which hold back private spending. In the past, this could be done in part by the increased use of credit and monetary tools, but our balance of payments situation today places limits on our use of those tools for expansion. It could also be done by increasing federal expenditures more rapidly than necessary, but such a course would soon demoralize both the government and our economy. If government is to retain the confidence of the people, it must not spend more than can be justified on grounds of national need or spent with maximum efficiency.”
Kennedy recommended three remedial legislative actions.
First, “… reduce the net taxes by a sufficiently early date and a sufficiently large amount to do the job required.”
Second, new tax bills “…must increase private consumption, as well as investment. Consumers are still spending between 92 and 94 percent on their after-tax income, as they have every year since 1950. But that after-tax income could and should be greater, providing stronger markets for the products of American industry. When consumers purchase more goods, plants use more of their capacity, men are hired instead of laid-off, investment increases, and profits are high”.
And third, “the new tax bill should improve both the equity and the simplicity of our present tax system. This means the enactment of long-needed tax reforms, a broadening of the tax base, and the elimination or modification of many special tax privileges. These steps are not only needed to recover lost revenue and thus make possible a larger cut in present rates, they are also tied directly to our goal of greater growth. For the present patchwork of special provisions and preferences lightens the tax loads of some only at the cost of placing a heavier burden on others. It distorts economic judgments and channels undue amounts of energy into efforts to avoid tax liability. It makes certain types of less productive activity more profitable than other more valuable undertakings. All this inhibits our growth and efficiency, as well as considerably complicating the work of both the taxpayer and the Internal Revenue Service.”
The road from Smith to the prescriptions of Massachusetts U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders is unbridgeable. Sanders is either an outright socialist or a proponent of the illiberal neo-progressive movement in the United States. Here in Connecticut, Democrats, and the entire New England-California neo-progressive political axis is an enterprise in barely noticed subversion that will, given a full head of steam, supplant Kennedy/Smith liberalism.
On the matter of liberal taxation -- a ticket to a government of the politicians, by the politicians, and for the politicians -- Mark Twain, a non-ideologue, got it exactly right when he quipped, “The only difference between a tax man and a taxidermist is that the taxidermist leaves the skin.”