To their own detriment, progressives have hermetically sealed themselves off from the Right, and even from moderates.
How bad is the debut of the Green New Deal looking a week later? “Dead on arrival” makes it sound better than it is. It’s more like Zima meets Green Lantern times Bill Simmons’s HBO show. It’s such a disaster that Democrats and their media allies are calling Mitch McConnell a nefarious schemer for proposing to allow them to vote on their own idea. A party whose loudest voice avers that we’re 144 months from the end of the world if we don’t “address climate change” (and that was almost a month ago!) is saying, “Hey, let’s not slam the pedal to the metal and rush this thing all the way to the voting-on-a-nonbinding-resolution phase this year.”
The GND got pummeled, pureed, and pantsed from left, right, and center. Bloomberg’s Noah Smith: “The Green New Deal Would Spend the U.S. Into Oblivion.” Jonathan Chait of New York: “The Green New Deal Is a Bad Idea, Not Just a Botched Rollout.” USA Today’s deputy editorial-page editor catalogued “Green New Deal’s 55 promises that have little to do with climate change: The full list.” “A deeply unserious proposal to tackle climate change,” ruled The Economist. Jonathan Swan of Axios: “We’ve been talking to Trump’s political advisors, it’s like Christmas and Hanukkah and every other holiday has arrived. I’ve never seen them so joyful and full of glee. They’re gonna elevate this and talk about it til the cows come home.” Under the headline, “Democrats, Debt and Double Standards,” Paul Krugman advised the Left on February 11, “Don’t let the deficit scolds scare you into thinking small,” but upon further reflection one day later said of progressives, “Their agenda still needs to be tax-and-spend, not just spend” and deficit-scolded them: “Progressives should be thinking about how to pay for their policies. So it’s a source of mild concern that I keep hearing that heterodox economics — specifically Modern Monetary Theory — says that we don’t have to worry about where the money will come from.”
Somehow the Democrats managed to create a shiny, magical rainbow-colored unicorn and immediately impale themselves on it. Such a nightmare is the GND that the Democratic-party shills at the Associated Press wrote, “McConnell Wields Green New Deal as Bludgeon against Dems.” Who is wielding that weapon, though? It’s like watching Edward Norton beat himself up in Fight Club. The Green New Deal proposal is such a merde burrito that it seems likely to kill any Democratic-led climate-change action for the rest of this congressional term.
How did this Hindenburg-crashes-into-the-Titanic-and-unleashes-Chernobyl situation happen? A couple of reasons are apparent. The first is the Dems’ obvious and growing Ocasio-Cortez problem. I stress that it is not I who want her to be reined in. I want her on every front page, every podcast, every news program. I want her to host the Grammys. I want her to be the newest Avenger. The more she talks, the better for conservatives, because, six weeks into the 60-year service of “First Citizen AOC” (Ross Douthat), it is obvious that the effective leader of the Democratic party is a moron. But that’s being too kind. The effective leader of the Democratic party is a heedless, arrogant, spotlight-chasing, wrath-threatening ignoramus maximus who is too dumb to have any inkling of how much she doesn’t know. Three years after convincing themselves that the ideal presidential candidate was a woman with the personality of an ulcerous Gila monster, the Democrats have once again fallen in line behind “star power,” meaning someone who seems like a star only inside the hermetically sealed Village Cinema of Potemkin, a safe space for true believers only.
Which brings me to the second unanticipated problem with the Green New Deal. The progressives didn’t understand how their Year Zero fantasy would be received because they have hermetically sealed themselves off from the Right, and even from moderates. They actually leaked a document to their woke friends at NPR without anyone realizing how badly a pledge of support for everyone “unable or unwilling to work” would play outside the bubble, or how inane it seems to grownups when you propose eliminating every combustion engine in the United States in ten years or declare war on cows.
Republicans who watch Fox News are often derided for living in an echo chamber. Maybe they’d like to be, but it’s almost impossible to accomplish. It’s simply not possible to wall oneself off from opposing opinion if you’re right of center, because the Left owns the media, the culture, and, increasingly, corporate America. Moreover, conservatives live in areas that are more ideologically diverse than liberals do. Liberals huddle in and around silos. There are only five districts in the country where Republican representatives topped Donald Trump’s national performance by 30 points in 2016; there are 26 districts where Democrats ran up the score by a similar margin, according to The Cook Political Report’s Partisan Voting Index. In the liberal bubble, the farthest-right worldview that ever penetrates your mindspace is what’s on CNN while you’re at the airport. Progressives get outraged by the idea that The Atlantic could hire anyone to the right of the moderate Conor Friedersdorf. There aren’t any pro-Trump voices at the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, the Washington Post, or The New Yorker, because being insulated from opposing views is what their readers desire. The last New York Times columnist who consistently backed the Republican party was Bill Kristol, who lasted a year before the Times let him go. That was in 2009.
Within Progtown, extremism in the defense of climate-change hysteria is no vice. AOC and Co. probably thought they were moderating their tone by not charging the rich with being malefactors of great wealth and suggesting mandatory sensitivity camp for straight white males. “Trump says whatever he feels, why can’t we?” the progressives think. If their aim is to be much less popular than he is, they should keep talking.