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Secret Right-Wing Elizabeth Warren Crush

To be honest, it has long disappointed me that Elizabeth Warren is such a doctrinaire left winger on social issues. I would love to have a social conservative who was as red-hot on the abuse of corporate power as she is. Of course there’s no way she would ever win the Democratic nomination if she were a social conservative, nor would she be a US Senator from Massachusetts.

Back in 2011, when she announced for the Massachusetts Senate race on an anti-big business platform, I wrote in this space that she was “a Democrat I could vote for.”  [1] In 2014, observing how far gone she is on cultural leftism, I lamented that I wanted so bad for her to be good [2] — but hey, you can’t always get what you want.

The Week‘s Matthew Walther recently wrote a piece praising her from the Right as a “forgotten reactionary.” [3] Excerpt:

Warren’s vision of human flourishing is fundamentally a conservative one — or at least it would be if the family were still at the center of the conservative conception of politics. What she argues for is the right of families to thrive, not be the slave of financial interests, corporate power, housing monopolies, the educational establishment, or any other external force. She believes, radically, alas, in 2018, that we all have a right to food, water, housing, education, and medical care. The idea that hard-working Americans should be able to raise their children in comfort and with a sense of dignity is not, or at least should not be, the exclusive purview of any one politician or party. The fact that Warren very frequently does seem to be among the only elected officials in this country who both affirms these things and has taken the trouble to think carefully about them is a reminder that the centrism rejected by her and fellow travelers on the left and the right alike is not only noxious but omnipresent.

Warren’s economic vision of human flourishing — that is, the economic conditions she believes must be in place for people to flourish — is fundamentally conservative, in an older, more organic sense. Old-fashioned Catholic reactionaries understand exactly what she’s talking about, and so would the kind of Christian conservatives who read Wendell Berry and Crunchy Cons [4] (which, alas, came out about 13 years too early).

Lo, Fox News star Tucker Carlson riled up the Right the other night with his tour de force criticism of right-wing free market orthodoxies (among other things).  [5]

Last night, he praised Elizabeth Warren for having written a 2003 book about how the US economy traps families. [6] He points out that in her book, Warren made an economic case that the mass entry of women into the workplace has been a financial disaster for families. More:

Elizabeth Warren said that out loud. Nobody seemed to mind. She’d never say that today. It’s not allowed like so much else that is true and important. She can’t talk about the things that she believed 10 years ago. No modern Democrat can.

Can Republicans? In a follow-up column, Matthew Walther thinks they should, and that Tucker Carlson’s commentaries so far this year have been galvanizing. [7] More:

If anyone had suggested to me five years ago that the most incisive public critic of capitalism in the United States would be Tucker Carlson, I would have smiled blandly and mentioned an imaginary appointment I was late for. But that is exactly what the Fox News host revealed himself to be last week with an extraordinary monologue about the state of American conservative thinking. In 15 minutes he denounced the obsession with GDP, the tolerance of payday lending and other financial pathologies, the fetishization of technology, the guru-like worship of CEOs, and the indifference to the anxieties and pathologies of the poor and the vulnerable characteristic of both of our major political parties. It was a masterpiece of political rhetoric. He ended by calling upon the GOP to re-examine its attitude towards the free market.

Carlson’s monologue is valuable because unlike so many progressive critics of our social and economic order he has gone beyond the question of the inequitable distribution of wealth to the more important one about the nature of late capitalist consumer culture and the inherently degrading effects it has had on our society. The GOP’s blinkered inability to see beyond the specifications of the new iPhone or the latest video game or the infinite variety of streaming entertainment and Chinese plastic to the spiritual poverty of suicide and drug abuse is shared with the Democratic Socialists of America, whose vision of authentic human flourishing seems to be a boutique eco-friendly version of our present consumer society. This is lipstick on a pig.

And:

It is difficult for me to understand exactly why conservatives have come around to their present uncritical attitude toward unbridled capitalism. It cannot be for electoral reasons. Survey after survey reveals that a vast majority of the American people hold views that would be described as socially conservative and economically moderate to progressive. A presidential candidate who spoke capably to both of these sets of concerns would be the greatest political force in three generations.

The answer is that for conservatives the market has become a cult. No book better explains the appeal of classical liberal economics than The Golden Bough, Sir James Frazer’s history of magic. Frazer identified certain immutable principles that have governed magical thinking throughout the ages. Among these is the imitative principle according to which a favorable outcome is obtained by mimicry — the endless chants of entrepreneurship, vague nonsense about charter schools, calls for tax cuts for people who don’t make enough money to benefit from them. There also is taboo, the primitive assumption that by not speaking the name of a thing, the thing itself will be thereby be exorcised. This is one reason that any attempt to criticize the current consensus is met with whingeing about “socialism.” This catch-all talisman is meant to protect against everything from the Cultural Revolution to modest restrictions on overdraft fees imposed at the behest of consultants.

Read the whole thing.  [7]

What Walther seems to be talking about is what the political economist Philip Blond promoted a decade ago as Red Toryism, [8] a right-wing philosophy that is socially conservative but less economically libertarian. The idea is that the neither moral libertarianism nor economic libertarianism leads to the common good.

I didn’t have this blog back then, but I was (and remain) an enthusiastic supporter of Red Toryism. At the time, the only serious question I had about it was the concern that Red Toryism’s commitment to the “common good” was a chimera, because, à la MacIntyre, we were too culturally disunited to agree on what constituted the common good. But my friend Chris Roberts challenged me, saying, “Do we really all need to agree on what constitutes virtue to agree the big banks need to be broken up?”

No, we don’t — and that’s an excellent point. The problem is that no Democrat can get elected on a “break up the banks” platform without also promising to fulfill the left-liberal agenda on LGBT and abortion. You might think that Obergefell would have reduced the pressure for marriage equality, giving the Democrats more maneuverability. Now that they have achieved the main LGBT goal, why not hold on that front and advance on economics, pulling in enough social and religious conservatives to win the presidency?

Let me explain why not. Take a look at this 2005 political typology report from the Pew Center.  [9] Mind you, this was released early into G.W. Bush’s second term. Even then, it turned out that there were twice as many on the Right who were socially conservative, but critical of big business, and who saw a role for government in helping people, as there were right-wingers who bought the standard GOP pro-business social conservative line.

The furthest extreme on the Right — not ideologically, but in terms of being a minority member of the coalition — determined the conservative party’s policy.

It was pretty much the same way on the Left, with the Democrats, though there was somewhat more parity. Seventeen percent of the Left coalition were secular economic liberals. But 24 percent were social conservatives. As with the GOP, the most extreme end of the coalition determined the party’s policy.

The great center of American politics in 2005 was with people who were broadly socially conservative, broadly skeptical of corporate power, and broadly supportive of government.

A presidential candidate who could have grabbed that center could have built a durable coalition. But there was no way the GOP was going to let anybody who didn’t buy free-market orthodoxy rise up through its ranks. Nor were the Democrats going to let a social conservative through. The establishments of both parties were captured by the people who turned out to be on the Pew extremes.

Now, that was 14 years ago — before the Iraq War became so unpopular, before the 2008 financial crash, and, heaven knows, an eon before Donald Trump descended the escalator at Trump Tower. The 2017 Pew political typology looks very different.  [10] Social conservatism is much less important to American politics than it once was. The big issues are nationalism, immigration, and the economy. On the economy, it’s interesting to see that about 40 percent of the GOP coalition are skeptical of corporate power and the current economic arrangement.

On social issues, the Democrats are more solidly liberal than the Republicans are solidly conservative, but the “Devout & Diverse” subsection of the Democratic coalition — nonwhite churchgoers — are more socially conservative. They are a relatively small percentage of the overall Democratic coalition, but in a country as closely divided as the US in 2019, it could make a difference.

Lest we get too caught in the weeds here, I believe there is far less of a center to be claimed in American politics now than there was in 2005. Still, if you look at this snapshot of the age demographics of the US types, it’s clear where this is headed. The young are far more to the left. The only left-wing subgroup that’s interested in social conservatism at all are the Devout & Diverse, and most of them are middle-aged or older:

Pew’s further analysis shows that Millennials are far more liberal on social issues. [11] Though conservatives like to tell ourselves that Millennials are more pro-life, the fact is that they are still broadly pro-abortion.

My point: we conservatives have decisively lost the culture war. The political future will primarily be decided on economic issues. An Elizabeth Warren Democrat who has the foresight to lay off of religious and social conservatives — not do our bidding, but simply leave us alone — might be able to peel away a good number of us. After all, if there’s no chance of socially conservative legislation ever passing, or socially liberal legislation being slowed down that much, then social and religious conservatives who are more market-skeptical are going to have different motivations to vote than we do today. Maybe a Millennial GOP politician like J.D. Vance, who supports same-sex marriage, but who is generally a social conservative, and who is relatively heterodox on economics. Here’s his response to Tucker Carlson’s monologue. [12] Excerpt:

The market is not a Platonic deity, floating in the sky and imposing goodness and prosperity from on high. It is the creation of our choices, our laws, and our democratic process. We know, for instance, that pornography has radically altered how young boys perceive their relationships with women and sex, and that the pornography industry has acquired a lot of wealth in the process of creating and distributing that content. Just last month, we learned that a Chinese entity created the first gene-edited baby, using a technology developed in the United States. Some company, here or there, will eventually create a lot of prosperity by using this gene-editing technology (called CRISPR) in an unethical way, quite literally playing God with the most sacred power in the universe — the creation of human life. In the past few years, it has become abundantly clear that Apple — despite self-righteously refusing to cooperate with American security officials — has willingly complied [13] with the requirements of the Chinese surveillance state, even as China builds concentration camps for dissidents and religious minorities. And, as Carlson mentioned, there are marijuana companies pushing for legalization, though we know from the Colorado experience that legalization increases use [14], and from other studies [15] that use is concentrated among the lower class, causing a host of social problems in the process.

All of these entities are doing what the market demands, and in some ways, it’s hard to blame them. But shouldn’t our laws and policy make life harder for them? Or should conservatives cry “small government” every time someone suggests an intervention and stick our collective head in the sand, pretending there’s no relationship between market actors and the civil society we say we believe in?

Now, as I write this fantasia about Elizabeth Warren discovering her inner Christopher Lasch, I recognize how implausible it is. The wind is in the sails of the cultural left. But even as conservatives like me hope for someone to arise from the Right who seriously questions free-market libertarianism, I think it’s more likely that we’ll see that than that American liberalism will give birth to a figure who would be able to endorse this adaptation of a Walther paragraph:

____’s monologue is valuable because unlike so many progressive advocates of the atomized, individualized social and cultural order, he has gone beyond the question of identity politics to the more important one about the nature of late capitalist consumer culture and the inherently degrading effects it has had on our society. The Democrats’ blinkered inability to see beyond the latest episode of virtue signaling, performative wokeness, or other forms of empty political theater is shared with the core Republican activists, whose vision of authentic human flourishing seems to be a red-white-and-blue version of our present consumer society. This is lipstick on a pig.

If Elizabeth Warren could say that with credibility, I’d vote for her. But then, she would be Lasch, or Wendell Berry. The fact that the Democrats are no more likely to welcome a Lasch or a Berry into their coalition in a meaningful way than are the Republicans tells you something about American politics.

I’ll leave you with this commentary by Yuval Levin on Tucker Carlson and the populism debate happening at the moment on the Right. [16] Excerpt:

And yet, markets and a traditional moral order characterized by commitments to family, faith, community, and country can also be in very great tension with one another. The market values risk-taking and creative destruction that can be very bad for family and community, and it rewards the lowest common cultural denominator in ways that can undermine traditional morality. It seeks the largest possible consumer base in ways often hostile to national boundaries and loyalties. Modern markets can also encourage consolidation in ways that are very far from friendly to civil society. Traditional values, meanwhile, discourage the spirit of competition and self-interested ambition essential for free markets to work, and their adherents sometimes seek to enforce codes of conduct that constrain individual freedom and refuse to conceive of men and women first and foremost as consumers.

The things we value are therefore sometimes in tension with each other. When that tension arises, we have to prioritize, and that prioritization has to be guided by an idea of human flourishing that lets us roughly figure out in individual instances when and how far the demands of market competition need to be met and when and how far those of family, faith, community, or country need to be met. There is no perfect formula for doing this, obviously. But there are better and worse ways to do it, and our society has not been doing it well enough in this century, which has left a lot of ruin in a lot of people’s lives.

One key to finding this balance is to recognize that the market is a means, not an end. We should be immensely grateful for the benefits it has brought us—the ways in which it has made us better able to pursue good ends. But we should not mistake it for those ends, and so should be willing to constrain its reach when it undermines them instead of advancing them, which happens. Conservatism has ceded its economic thinking too thoroughly to libertarianism since the 1990s in a way that has caused us to forget this. It is time for that to change, and so for some rebalancing of our priorities.

True. Read it all.  [16]

UPDATE: Reader Pyrrho posts this graphic that shows how far to the left Americans have become on economics, and how polarized on social issues. Note the economics part especially:

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90 Comments To "Secret Right-Wing Elizabeth Warren Crush"

#1 Comment By Haigha On January 9, 2019 @ 9:34 am

“In the real world you are going to have to keep companies from getting too powerful if you want a free(ish) market.”

“So, is it possible that in this everything-can-be-bought-and-sold culture that the massive corporations made the very rational choice to buy themselves a government?”

The answer, of course, is to dial back the scope of government so that it lacks the power to grant favors, and therefore isn’t worth buying.

#2 Comment By Collin On January 9, 2019 @ 9:58 am

In terms of Elizabeth Warren, I am not sold on her:

1) She has the same weakness as HRC in which she is not especially good on the campaign trail. I still believe a leading Senator is her level of competence.
2) Like it or not, it does appear Harvard gave her brownie points in the 1990s. (Lots of handshake agreements with Harvard wanting to more women professors.)
3) Her strongest primary strength is Warren literally did live a normal middle class for years and does know the issues family face.
4) Warren does know policy and her legislation on selling hearing aids without a prescription is good small government policy choices I wish we saw more of.

5) Even with American diverging on economic policy, we have to remember that Trump in Nov 2016 considered more of center candidate than Hillary Clinton. So playing the center does win elections.

#3 Comment By Hector_St_Clare On January 9, 2019 @ 11:05 am

Indeed. And it is why I have always felt more at home in Europe politically. There are more than two hardened orthodoxies to choose from here.

Agreed very strongly with that. Which country are you in, Italy right?

The Northern League’s economic policy is too conservative for me, although it’s good they’re cracking down on mass immigration. That being said, there are a lot of “far right” European political parties which are actually quite left wing on economics. Which kind of underscores how stupid the whole “far right” terminology is to begin with. (Ronald Inglehart, in his recent two-dimensional typology of European political parties, puts many of these parties, like Jobbik, in the “Populist Left” quadrant).

The Danish ethnic-nationalist party, to take one example, is quite left wing on economics and has effectively used its position as kingmaker to prevent the conservative party from lowering tax rates on the rich. Same goes for people like Milos Zeman in the Czech Republic (who’s a man of the Old Left that people like the Guardian prefer to refer to as “far right”, as far as I can tell purely because of his opinion on immigration).

Say what you will about Europe, but I’d much rather live there than here, and the lack of a two party system is a big part of why.

#4 Comment By Kirk On January 9, 2019 @ 11:15 am

“My point: we conservatives have decisively lost the culture war. The political future will primarily be decided on economic issues. An Elizabeth Warren Democrat who has the foresight to lay off of religious and social conservatives — not do our bidding, but simply leave us alone — might be able to peel away a good number of us.”

Exactly why I think you should lead the effort to define religious rights. The Benedict Option was a good first step to dealing with having lost the culture wars. The next step is to convince liberals that when you say ‘religious freedom’ that it does not mean, ‘My tribe gets to discriminate against anybody else whenever we want.’ I know that the religious feel like a big target is painted on their back, but seriously, us liberals think your religious practice is just fine, except when you want to discriminate against anybody of your choosing.

That’s why I want you to lead the effort to define religious liberty, and then run a number of edge cases through that algorithm. The results will either convince liberals that what you’re asking for is reasonable or unreasonable. If reasonable, then that law can be passed and your tribe can then decide if you can vote on other issues. Perhaps freeing you to vote for a Warren.

#5 Comment By ThunderMontgomery On January 9, 2019 @ 11:24 am

And once again, @Nate J, I ask, who are the libertarians setting this economic policy? You can rave on about neo-liberalism all you want, but who are these “libertarians” that are out there pushing neo-liberalism? The bi-partisan consensus in Washington has effed up everything from foreign policy to trade policy and yet somehow “libertarians” are to blame.

#6 Comment By James On January 9, 2019 @ 11:41 am

” Reader Pyrrho posts this graphic that shows how far to the left Americans have become on economics, and how polarized on social issues.”

The only thing I’ll disagree with you here, Rod, is that there ever was a time that there ever was a time when there were lots of libertarians or even economic conservatives.

Even the vaunted ‘Reagan Democrats’ were moderate to liberal on economics (thus why Reagan went from declare Medicare was Soviet socialism in 1968 to becoming it’s defender in the early 80’s as President), they were just conservative on the social issues of the day – crime, race, and moral issues.

Sure, people thought taxes were too high, but people always think their taxes are too high and other people taxes are too low. The people who voted for Prop 13 or other tax limiting referendums through the 70’s and 80’s largely also weren’t for the massive tax cuts to the rich Reagan gave as well. They just went along because it was part of the package.

There’s a reason why you can get supermajorities to agree at times that the government should be “smaller”, but you can’t get 50% approval for any spending cuts in any area that is actually more than a rounding error in the budget.

#7 Comment By Hound of Ulster On January 9, 2019 @ 11:44 am

@JonF

I could see a future split of the Democrats, mostly along economic lines, if the GOP implodes post-Trump. Yhe different factions would line up in some very weird ways that would be surprising to many here.

#8 Comment By kgasmart On January 9, 2019 @ 12:12 pm

Nobody seemed to mind because she did not follow it up with “and therefore they should be forced out of the workplace” or “because they are too stupid to hold down jobs”. It’s the conclusions that kill conservative arguments, not the observations.

You’ve got to be kidding me.

I defy Elizabeth Warren, or any other prominent lefty, to publicly restate her thesis that the entry of women into the workforce has ultimately harmed the family.

Imagine the furious tweetstorms. How dare she suggests it’s been anything but wonderful for women themselves – and thus, for society as a whole. Evidence to the contrary be damned as “hateful,” of course.

“Now that they have achieved the main LGBT goal, why not hold on that front and advance on economics…?”

Because the sexual revolution must ever push forward. It must ever conquer new lands, transgress the latest boundaries.

Which is to say, look at how rapidly we pivoted from gay marriage, once the court weighed in, to transgender issues.

Already, we’ve seen what the next front will be once the trans battle is “won” – it’ll be polyamory. We’ve already seen major publications from the NYT on down run stories on how polyamorous folks are jes’ folks like you and me – the natural conclusion being that society’s view on this, too, must evolve.

And after the “poly” battle is won? What will be the next front?

There must always – always – be a new front. Which is why many of us believe we’ll ultimately get ’round to the justification of pedophilia. We must; every sexual proclivity must be “tolerated” (and not just that, but celebrated); certainly it would be hateful to discriminate against anyone on the basis of what they do between the sheets, and with whom.

Most on the left don’t want to think about this – when I was a lefty, I thought gay marriage was the endgame. And then all of a sudden it was all trans all the time and I thought – where did this come from?

It had been there all along.

#9 Comment By Rob G On January 9, 2019 @ 12:14 pm

One of the weirdest but most telling things I ever heard coming out of the mainstream right was in 2008 in the run-up to the GOP primaries. Limbaugh was talking about the various candidates and the discussion came around to Mike Huckabee. Rush said something to the effect of “Listen, Huckabee’s a good guy, a smart guy, but he’s not a conservative.”

Why? Because at that time Huckabee was pushing something like a very mild version of Warren’s take on corporate America, minus the social liberalism. And Limbaugh, mouthpiece of the mainstream right, simply wrote him off as “not a conservative.” Right then and there I realized that the mainstream right, “actually existing conservatism,” was a lost cause.

“Wendell Berry is NOT a social conservative!!! He was PRO gay marriage before Obergfell, and is kinda sorta semi-reluctantly pro-abortion.”

While I don’t agree with Berry on either issue, and I think he’s wrong, his takes on both are at least thoughtful, and don’t reflect in any way a knee-jerk support of sexual liberation.

And in any case, his views on these things do not negatively affect his understanding of consumerism, corporate America, big government, etc.

#10 Comment By Franklin Evans On January 9, 2019 @ 12:22 pm

Noah makes an excellent point about the differences between public- and private-sector unions and collective bargaining units. I would personally add that public-sector unions would never have been necessary if governments were not run under the same philosophy as private-sector employers: minimize the cost of employees by any means possible. I’ve always held that regardless of any definition of necessity, public-sector unionization was and remains a bad idea.

I also don’t know of a better alternative. Sometimes it’s the evil you must handle, rather than the lesser of two evils.

As for the shifts in the socio-economic realities, there’s a necessary categorization necessary when discussing women in the workforce. I offer these broad categories which are likely arguable. It’s a starting point, not a line in the sand.

Families at or below the poverty line: when you control for the benefits of a stay-at-home parent, these families only ever had one option to get above the poverty line enough to no longer need public assistance, and that was a second income. The entire motivation for minimum wage, stable work hours and such was an attempt to mitigate the need for a second income. It gets politicized and complicated from there, partially for good reasons, but unless you look at a given family’s income limitations before criticizing the woman’s working instead of being at home, you are ignoring the consequences of poverty, which cannot be mitigated by parenting.

The woman has a higher income potential: it started well before the employment argument, as in decades previous women were “permitted” to attain higher education in skill and content areas beyond nursing and teaching. One reaction to that, an analysis conclusion I arrive at personally, was to routinely discriminate against female employees in both compensation and promotion. The prevailing “wisdom” (again, my personal POV) was that women are going to get pregnant anyway, why encourage them away from that? If the only disparity in compensation was for unpaid leave due to pregnancy and childbirth, you might have avoided a large part of the feminist revolution.

The broad mix of “women belong in…” arguments based on some moral construct (religious or other): this is where the feminist revolution was inevitable. It comes down to personal agency and choice. I have an Orthodox Jewish relative whose wife fully, happily and creatively embraces her religiously mandated role. She’s very intelligent, an erudite writer and speaker, and is as much a pillar of her community as any male in it. We should avoid extreme examples like Rahaf Mohammed Alqunun, but her plight without fatal consequences is precisely what many women face, and want to escape. Feminism simply states that such women have the right to make that different choice, and the power the men of their community have over them is a denial of a human right.

I’m sure other broad categories need to be described. I’ll leave this before it gets beyond being too long.

#11 Comment By astorian On January 9, 2019 @ 12:49 pm

“While I don’t agree with Berry on either issue, and I think he’s wrong, his takes on both are at least thoughtful, and don’t reflect in any way a knee-jerk support of sexual liberation.”

Baloney. Poor Rod was heartbroken when Berry came out for gay marriage. NOT just because he’d wrongly assumed Berry would be on his side, but because Berry did NOT offer an intelligent, nuanced view! He was smug, snide, insulting and dismissive toward people holding the traditional view.

Wendell Berry is a man of the Left on EVERY issue that matters. It baffles me why so many conservatives imagine he’s one of them.

#12 Comment By JonF On January 9, 2019 @ 12:57 pm

By Haghia’s philosophy we’d have no right to interfere with people selling themselves into slavery, or even accepting a million dollars, payable to their heirs, to be sacrificed to the god Tlaloc in Aztec manner.

#13 Comment By James On January 9, 2019 @ 12:58 pm

” That being said, there are a lot of “far right” European political parties which are actually quite left wing on economics. ”

Well, they’re left wing on economics for people like them, to be fair. OTOH, far right parties like the AfD in Germany are indeed, pushing right-wing economic policy in their policy meetings while being populist in public.

#14 Comment By Gertrude On January 9, 2019 @ 1:12 pm

@kgasmart “I defy Elizabeth Warren, or any other prominent lefty, to publicly restate her thesis that the entry of women into the workforce has ultimately harmed the family.

Imagine the furious tweetstorms. How dare she suggests it’s been anything but wonderful for women themselves – and thus, for society as a whole. Evidence to the contrary be damned as ‘hateful,’ of course.”

You don’t understand the left. And no, having once been in favor of SSM doesn’t mean you understand the left. I and many others will happily say the following: “Society was not prepared for the mass entry of women into the workplace. Childcare suffered, work-life balance suffered, male-female relations suffered.”

The problem here is that we follow that up with: “The problem was not women having basic aspirations to the dignity and relative economic security work offers. The problem was a government captured by the rich who don’t understand what policy for families that can’t afford nannies would look like. The problem was also a social structure which valued families less than it valued proscribed gender roles. Time to chart a different course.”

Trust me, feminists talk all the time about how much harder it is to have a family these days. We just don’t think the problem exists because women selfishly wanted basic economic security.

#15 Comment By Matt in AK On January 9, 2019 @ 1:15 pm

This made me smile RD, because I thought I was the only one. I loved Elizabeth Warren in the “Maxed Out” documentary, and was seriously disappointed to find out how radical she is on social issues.

She’s one of the many folks in our world today that would benefit from playing a few games of “one of these things is not like the other” with the positions they hold, but it seems unlikely, paradoxically enough, because “money.”

-Matt in AK

#16 Comment By DobermanBoston On January 9, 2019 @ 1:22 pm

FYI Tulsi Gabbard just pushed back on the Harris/Hirono war on the K of C.

[17]

#17 Comment By Roy Fassel On January 9, 2019 @ 1:55 pm

Future elections…..and it could come as soon as 2020 will not be a contest between Conservative Republicans and liberal Democrats. Future elections will be driving mostly by “generational difference” or “generational interests.”

There will be a lot of young tree hugging liberals who will drift to the Republican Party to keep their taxes down in an attempt to fund the exploding Social Security and Medicare expenses due to the Baby Boomers moving from the tax paying to the receiving end. These younger people, more of a very diverse group, will say……”you want to tax me to pay for the retirement benefits of these older white people who hated us all these years? NO WAY! And the low tax Republicans will get a lot of liberals votes for economic reasons.

At the same time, lots of Red necked right winged conservatives, always for smaller government….but don’t mess with my Medicare !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! will turn to the Nancy Pelosi Party of Democrats to make sure that their Social Security and Medicate benefits will be honored. After all, The Ryans and W. Bushes of the Republican Party wanted to totally “privatize” these government programs.

The Seniors will drift to the Party which will protect their safety net programs and the younger, mostly immigrant and more diverse, will drift to the Party which protects their income from being confiscated by the seniors. Abortion and other social controversy will take a back seat when this happens.

#18 Comment By Mdc On January 9, 2019 @ 2:23 pm

Matt in VA:

The strategy is not “import a new electorate”- rather: “legalize the whole working class, in order to strengthen their bargaining position.”

#19 Comment By KD On January 9, 2019 @ 2:24 pm

Warren is a smart, informed academic with some solid views on economic issues.

On the other hand, she is a terrible politician, and not suited for high executive office. She lacks gravitas and has no intuition for the optics of what she does, going from gaffe to gaffe. She’d be chewed up and spit out before she became a contender.

While I think HRC had terrible ideas, I never questioned her capacity to project authority and credibility, that is, “act presidential”. In contrast, Obama’s dork factor got him in trouble on a number of occasions (although his “communist salute” stands out), and Warren is many times more a dork than Obama.

#20 Comment By Haigha On January 9, 2019 @ 3:22 pm

JonF writes:

“By Haghia’s [sic] philosophy we’d have no right to interfere with people selling themselves into slavery, or even accepting a million dollars, payable to their heirs, to be sacrificed to the god Tlaloc in Aztec manner.”

When I see this sort of response, I always feel a twinge of satisfaction, because it means that the person posting has no real argument against what I’m actually for. It’s like when gay marriage opponents were reduced to arguing against it because it would (they said) lead to polygamy: if you can’t find an argument against the thing itself, but only against where you claim its logic leads, you’ve lost.

On the substance, it should be obvious to anyone who’s spent a few minutes on these topics that issues where there is arguably an unalienable right or interest at stake are analytically distinct from issues where everyone agrees that no unalienable right or interest is implicated.

#21 Comment By Thomas Hobbes On January 9, 2019 @ 3:23 pm

Haigha says:
The answer, of course, is to dial back the scope of government so that it lacks the power to grant favors, and therefore isn’t worth buying.

Now who is being the utopian? You think creating a power vacuum will prevent big businesses from imposing their will on the population? Go back and look at your beloved 19th century and tell me that absent government intervention corporations won’t crush peoples lives for a few extra cents.

#22 Comment By Zgler On January 9, 2019 @ 3:28 pm

“I confess I have never understood her appeal. She is the very model of a useless New England scold, constantly seeking to regulate just about everything. There is almost no problem that more government, more regulation – usually with no oversight – cannot fix. No, thank you.”

This sounds like someone who has not researched Warren’s writings and positions

[18]

and just does not like her style (i.e. New England Scold). I think her style, which would be fine in a man (e.g. who is a scold if not Bernie) will primary her out.

#23 Comment By Hector_St_Clare On January 9, 2019 @ 4:17 pm

OTOH, far right parties like the AfD in Germany are indeed, pushing right-wing economic policy in their policy meetings while being populist in public.

Good thing I didn’t mention the AFD then? I don’t disagree with you that they’re an economically right wing party.

Some ethnic nationalist parties (like the AFD, UKIP in England, and some others) are genuinely right wing on economics. Others like the DF are left wing, and for some others it’s unclear, they haven’t prioritized economics in the past so we’ll see where they end up.

#24 Comment By Hector_St_Clare On January 9, 2019 @ 4:29 pm

The market is not a Platonic deity, floating in the sky and imposing goodness and prosperity from on high. It is the creation of our choices, our laws, and our democratic process. We know, for instance, that pornography has radically altered how young boys perceive their relationships with women and sex, and that the pornography industry has acquired a lot of wealth in the process of creating and distributing that content. Just last month, we learned that a Chinese entity created the first gene-edited baby, using a technology developed in the United States. Some company, here or there, will eventually create a lot of prosperity by using this gene-editing technology (called CRISPR) in an unethical way, quite literally playing God with the most sacred power in the universe — the creation of human life. In the past few years, it has become abundantly clear that Apple — despite self-righteously refusing to cooperate with American security officials — has willingly complied with the requirements of the Chinese surveillance state, even as China builds concentration camps for dissidents and religious minorities. And, as Carlson mentioned, there are marijuana companies pushing for legalization, though we know from the Colorado experience that legalization increases use, and from other studies that use is concentrated among the lower class, causing a host of social problems in the process.

I’m an anti-capitalist so of course I’d agree with JD Vance that there’s no good reason to trust the free market or the owners of capitalist enterprises. Nonetheless, I can’t join him in his specific criticisms of free markets here, and I think this kind of underscores the difficulties there may be in building bridges between social conservatives and social liberals. Bridges can certainly be built, for sure, but it will take some work and some painful compromises, and this is a good example of why: several of the things that JD Vance points to as examples of free markets gone wrong, are things that I’d say are good things, not bad ones.

I’m not going to defend pornography (although I’m not particularly going to criticize it that much either: while I distrust conservative / orthodox Christian sexual ethics, I don’t really care about pornography per se and would be happy if the more violent / weird / disturbing stuff was banned). Gene editing of humans though strikes me as a clearly good thing: why wouldn’t we want our species to be more peaceful, better looking, more pro-social and more healthy? And why wouldn’t we, at the margins, want to raise people who might otherwise be born with serious physical or mental handicaps to be ‘fixed’? I have a lot of fears for the future of the world, but the idea that gene editing of our species might become commonplace is one of the things that makes me hopeful. I also think it’s a good thing that tech companies are cooperating with the Chinese state: not because I like China and its government, particularly, but because I believe strongly in the sovereign nation state and in the right of national governments to decide how foreign companies are going to behave on their territory. I’d much rather a world in which companies in China are constrained by the Chinese state than one in which they’re constrained by no rules at all other than their own will. Finally, the legalization of marijuana and other soft drugs seems to me to be a good thing as well.

I’m sure that JD Vance and I can come to lots of agreement over other issues, but I did want to point out there may be stumbling blocks over social issues as well- precisely because these issues do matter. They don’t matter as much as the economic issues, but they do matter somewhat.

#25 Comment By EarlyBird On January 9, 2019 @ 4:37 pm

All of these critiques of capitalism from social conservatives hews exactly to the platform of a tiny little party, the American Solidarity Party:

[19]

Among the planks in their platform:

“We believe that family, local communities, and voluntary associations are the first guarantors of human dignity, and cultivate mutual care. National institutions and policies should support, not supplant them.”

Quite seriously, the entire party could have been invented by Rod, and I mean that as the highest endorsement.

#26 Comment By Haigha On January 9, 2019 @ 4:43 pm

“You think creating a power vacuum will prevent big businesses from imposing their will on the population? Go back and look at your beloved 19th century and tell me that absent government intervention corporations won’t crush peoples lives for a few extra cents.”

Absolutely. Absent government help, businesses can’t do anything except offer people goods or services, or offer to purchase their labor or goods or services, on terms the individuals may or may not find advantageous compared to the status quo. When Big Business ran roughshod over people in the 19th Century, it was because government helped them (e.g., court cases letting businesses off the hook for their liabilities because of the supposed need for “progress”).

#27 Comment By Kevin E Kelly On January 9, 2019 @ 5:21 pm

Loss of faith and the value of raising a family haven’t been caused by our insatiable need to consume. Women working rather than becoming mothers isn’t the result of market economics.
Historic levels of wealth and, put simply, pharmaceutical scientific advancement have combined to undermine what had been considered common sense before 1960. Opulence and the Pill have turned things upside down but not for much longer. Things will change because the cultural make-up of the country is changing.

#28 Comment By JonF On January 9, 2019 @ 6:46 pm

Re: When I see this sort of response, I always feel a twinge of satisfaction, because it means that the person posting has no real argument against what I’m actually for.

OK, try this: humans are social animals as well as individual ones. That means we can moose limitations on individual behavior that is seriously harmful beyond the boundaries of those who are immediately party to it. where we set those boundaries will always and everywhere be a matter of debate: there are no canonical solutions. It’s rather like complex math problems for which the solutions can only be approximated by many iterations of trial and error to approximate the solution within specific parameters– and the next time when the parameters change, the solution will too.

By the way, I also noted that you had no answer to my previous post except to denigrate it. I have to assume that means you can’t answer the point i raised.

#29 Comment By Rob G On January 9, 2019 @ 7:07 pm

“Wendell Berry is a man of the Left on EVERY issue that matters. It baffles me why so many conservatives imagine he’s one of them.”

How much of him have you read? I’ve read all the fiction, some of it twice or three times, and at least half of the non-fiction, as well as several major studies of his work. Berry is conservative on some things and leftish or liberal on others. The conservatives who appreciate him do so because of those conservative commonalities.

#30 Comment By Noah172 On January 10, 2019 @ 4:33 am

mdc:

Warren’s housing bill is junk.

One, it doesn’t address the demand side on housing. Immigration pushes up demand for limited space in our metro areas. Don’t give me some blahblah about immigrants revitalizing rural America: most foreigners (especially non-Latin American) go to urban areas because that’s where most jobs are, and that’s where they feel most comfortable.

Second, let’s call spades spades. Most white Americans, especially those who have or want to have children in the home, don’t want to live in neighborhoods where they are heavily outnumbered, most especially by blacks, but also Latinos or non-English speakers. (Truth be told, middle-class POC don’t want to live around their races’ underclasses either.) Housing costs are high in many urban areas not only because of natural demand for limited supply, but because diversity creates sharp price disparity between the neighborhoods most whites want to live in, and those they don’t. Warren’s bill provides more taxpayer funds supposedly to build low-income housing, which will likely get dumped on middle- and lower-class white neighborhoods rather than rich white liberal enclaves.

The bill also would pressure more lenders to give out risky mortgages to dodgy borrowers, what caused the housing bubble and crash we went through in the aughts.

#31 Comment By Ellimist000 On January 10, 2019 @ 4:51 am

“J.D. Vance, who supports same-sex marriage, but who is generally a social conservative, and who is relatively heterodox on economics.”

Vance would have far less of a chance in a Republican primary than an actual social moderate (as not what you might think is moderate, but what is the middle ground of the nation) might in the Democratic party. You will notice in Pyrrho’s graph that the right is far more shifted to the extreme on social issues than the left is. That is the problem. That flexibility on the left will always restrain a national Democrat in a way that the right does not.

What exactly do you have to fear from Warren anyway? The birth control issue you mention in 2014? Puh-leez. That’s what I am talking about. That position isn’t “radical” no matter how much you say it is. Other minority religions besides Catholicism have to allow their workers access to things they don’t agree with all the time. There is a balance of interests to consider. A pill is simply not the same as an abortion.

Many women are prescribed the pill for non-contraceptive reasons, including ones that would otherwise cause severe pain. If you can’t at least somewhat see that it might be reasonable to include that in government regulated and subsidized health plans, I fail to see where one would be willing to compromise at all. Hence, all that red at the top of the graph, and why you will never get your social conservative Warren. Or for an unrelated matter, why we don’t already have DACA, immigration reform, and Trump’s damn wall, despite THAT compromise have been offered by the Democrats repeatedly.

(FYI I can’t speak for the Establishment left, but you might be surprised how receptive the socialist left might be to the observation about dual income homes-provided it is in the context of a broader discussion of the predations of capitalism vs families and not Buchananite Incel-porn, and that any solution isn’t only “put the women back in the kitchen”. Remember that not every female far-leftist is an upwardly mobile woman like Warren or Harris. )

#32 Comment By Ellimist000 On January 10, 2019 @ 5:10 am

kgasmart,

“You’ve got to be kidding me.

I defy Elizabeth Warren, or any other prominent lefty, to publicly restate her thesis that the entry of women into the workforce has ultimately harmed the family.”

KateLE is exactly correct. Your incredulity does not change that fact. What exactly do you think Bernie and AOC are talking about when they complain that single-family homes used to afford what two can barely do? What do you think the socialists mean when they talk about late-stage capitalism consuming families. A bunch of my fellow millennials would love to stay home with their kids if society afforded them the space to do it.

I mean, what, did you think she was arguing against the very idea of women working in 2003, herself being a working woman?

By the way, fool-sometimes-right-broken-clock that Tucker is, she DID just publically restate her views; she republished her book in the middle of 2016, almost certainly in preparation for a future presidential bid. So she doesn’t seem to be scared of her views, anymore than she is of Trump.

$11.55 on Amanzon if you want to actually find out what she is talking about 😉

#33 Comment By Rob G On January 10, 2019 @ 6:45 am

“When Big Business ran roughshod over people in the 19th Century, it was because government helped them (e.g., court cases letting businesses off the hook for their liabilities because of the supposed need for ‘progress’).”

True in some cases but certainly not in all. Look at the expansion of the railroads into the west, for example. The RR companies were quite capable of externalizing negatives onto small towns and farmers without the state’s help.

And industrial capitalism itself didn’t rise on its own; it required cronyism to jump start the thing from the get-go. In England this took the form of Enclosure and Clearance Laws. In the U.S. you can see a similar thing occurring in the post-WWII era’s complicity between the business and government efforts to move workers off the farms and into factories.

So, a truer explanation of the Big Business/government connection is that as business gets bigger cronyism becomes far more likely, perhaps even inevitable.

#34 Comment By Rob G On January 10, 2019 @ 6:47 am

Here is a very recent interview with Berry. Read it and it’s not hard to see why certain conservatives are attracted to his work.

[20]

#35 Comment By Haigha On January 10, 2019 @ 10:22 am

JonF:

It’s true that “harm” is fuzzy around the edges, but where the harm is caused by a third party with independent agency, it’s not moral to use force against the first party to prevent the “harm”, even if the first party’s actions are a but-for cause. That’s recognized in, for example, tort law.

As for your previous post, I pointed you in the direction of the answer, but I’m not descending any further into that mud pit, any more than you would give a serious response if I were to post, “according to JonF’s philosophy, we should legalize pedophilia and liquidate the kulaks.”

#36 Comment By Thomas Hobbes On January 10, 2019 @ 11:24 am

Haigha says:
Absolutely. Absent government help, businesses can’t do anything except offer people goods or services, or offer to purchase their labor or goods or services, on terms the individuals may or may not find advantageous compared to the status quo. When Big Business ran roughshod over people in the 19th Century, it was because government helped them (e.g., court cases letting businesses off the hook for their liabilities because of the supposed need for “progress”).

This borders on college commie levels of naïveté. Just watch some westerns to see how silly that is. Obviously some readings of history would be better, though I’m sure the worst is not recorded – it tends to be small communities that are the easiest targets and they have nobody to tell their story. The bigger a business gets the bigger government needs to be in order to make it follow common law. If you want small government you need to keep businesses small too.

#37 Comment By Haigha On January 10, 2019 @ 12:29 pm

“The bigger a business gets the bigger government needs to be in order to make it follow common law. If you want small government you need to keep businesses small too.”

The *size* of government needs to grow arithmetically with the size of the country. The *scope* of government does not need to grow. The abuses of the 19th Century happened where government abdicated or was unable to fulfill its basic responsibilities to prevent force, theft, fraud, etc. But those are all things that even the most ardent libertarians affirm are the proper role of government. The existence of those abuses cannot therefore justify the regulatory state or the welfare state.

#38 Comment By JonF On January 10, 2019 @ 1:09 pm

Haigha I simply don’t accept that your way if looking at th ge workd is valid. You have an erroneous notion of human nature (no original sin) and fail also to grasp that we humans are social animals. I also suspect that you do not accept that we have innate moral imperatives that cannot be set aside just because we want to.

#39 Comment By Rob G On January 11, 2019 @ 7:21 am

“The abuses of the 19th Century happened where government abdicated or was unable to fulfill its basic responsibilities to prevent force, theft, fraud, etc.”

But in many cases this is simply because the corporations “got there first”, or had the advantage of some other imbalance of power. See the history of that era. There are numerous examples where the business interests simply overpowered the resistance. You can hardly blame a small midwestern town or farming community for not being able to stand up to the railroad companies.

#40 Comment By Thomas Hobbes On January 11, 2019 @ 5:32 pm

Haigha says:
The abuses of the 19th Century happened where government abdicated or was unable to fulfill its basic responsibilities to prevent force, theft, fraud, etc. But those are all things that even the most ardent libertarians affirm are the proper role of government. The existence of those abuses cannot therefore justify the regulatory state or the welfare state.

What you mean is that the existence of those abuses does not justify the regulatory state for you. Lots of people disagree for reasons that do not defy logic, many of them are orthodox Christians.

I love how you keep bringing up the “welfare state” as we are talking about crony capitalism. What does the welfare state have to do with the abuses of the 19th century? This is the classic Reagan era Republican response: when people talk about the evils of crony capitalism, explain that this is due to government corruption (which it is) and then propose cutting welfare and reducing taxes on corporations and the rich as a solution. None of those things will reduce crony capitalism. The true goal of these policies is dismantling the New Deal and Great Society (and to enrich cronies!). People like Social Security and Medicare though, so the government must be driven toward bankruptcy (through cutting tax revenues) in order to justify dismantling “entitlements”. Once that is done, the poor and unlucky will properly feel the pain of their poor decisions or bad luck again, but crony capitalism will continue to worsen. When Republicans (or Democrats) actually talk about cutting regulations they almost never frame it as reducing crony capitalism because they are almost always doing it in a way to aid a specific crony and don’t want to call attention to that. Instead they talk about “job creation”.