I just read Orwell’s The Road to Wigan Pier. It is Orwell’s classic spanking of British Socialists in the 1930s. In the midst of the Great Depression workingmen and women in Britain were voting Tory or not voting at all. With Fascism rising in Europe, why was British Socialism failing?
I am a committed capitalist. But there is a magic in Orwell’s writing. His analysis of the Socialist leaders who had forgotten what British Socialism was all about applies to President Obama. Orwell knew it because he had gone down the coal shafts into the mines, walking hunched at the waist for miles in the tunnels. The reason the working class did not return Labour to power was its leaders were priggish snobs worried about dialectical materialism, the inevitable nature of history, and other Marxist rubbish.
Orwell demolished those prigs for forgetting that British Socialism was about justice and liberty. Just as this President has forgotten that the modern Democratic Party, the party of FDR, was founded on one goal – putting the working and middle classes back to work. It is not about narrow interest group politics.
It was only after unemployment dipped substantially that FDR took on other issues. And one can argue that, other than war preparation, FDR’s moves in the later 1930s retarded growth.
President Obama came to power with the legislative might to control both Houses of Congress and squandered it on a complex healthcare scheme. FDR enlarged his majorities in both Houses of Congress after his first election. After a first eighteen months in which he saved the capitalists, President Obama found it too hard with a Republican Congress to even argue for year after year of government spending. The kind of spending any Keynesian in Econ 101 knows is necessary.
He has spent the rest of his first term and now with an accelerating pace his second term retarding employment with payroll and income taxes the minority would have supported delaying. He has added on more and more environmental regulations. Dodd-Frank’s uncertain regulatory environment, particularly the Volcker rule, is affecting lending. He is having trouble implementing his signature healthcare plan without impacting working class employment above 30 hours a week.
While much of his restrained foreign policy is laudable, he remains fixated on the Middle East. Meanwhile trade agreements in Asia that would generate US jobs remain only a slogan. He is delaying pipeline construction that would put ordinary working men and women to work and is angering an important ally.
Those constructions workers will gladly take temporary work to avoid unemployment and food stamps. Only an elitist snob would put environmental fancies unsupported by science ahead of those working men and women. The only thing that should matter to Democrats until full employment is employment.
About the only industry the President permanently stimulated without massive subsidies was the arms industry.
It is unbelievable that all these pet social projects come before justice and liberty for working families. But then again, Orwell’s picture of priggish elitists sucking on government and academic salaries applies just as well today. And the thing Democrats like myself should fear is the inevitable moment the opposition wakes up.