By Michael Lind, Tablet
The red wave may have turned out to be a red ripple but, despite inflated expectations, it’s not the Republicans who look to have been hardest hit by the midterm election results but the progressive wing of the Democratic Party. Assuming that the House is captured by the Republicans, with or without the Senate, it is clear that the progressive policy agenda, the progressive theory of American partisan politics, and the progressive theory of the American constitution are now quite dead.
Let’s start with the progressive policy agenda. The economic agenda of the Democratic Party today is the “low carbon care economy.” This is a synthesis of the Green New Deal, a crash program to kill the oil and gas industries and replace them with heavily subsidized renewable energy sources, and the American Families Plan, a massive expansion of taxpayer subsidies for institutional child care, universal preschool and elder care. The jobs of the future, in this vision, are divided between a small number of gigs assembling windmills and solar panels which will replace coal, oil, and natural gas in America’s energy mix, and a much greater number of positions in federally subsidized day care centers and retirement homes.
To dramatize the low carbon care economy, the Biden White House last year issued a series of cartoon panels, “The Life of Linda,” modeled on a similar Obama administration cartoon, “The Life of Julia.” Biden’s Linda is an apparently unwed mother who works in manufacturing and has a son named Leo, who grows up to work in green energy: “Thanks to his community college training, Leo lands a good-paying, union job as a wind turbine technician.” The cartoon series explains how both Linda, the single mother, and Leo, the fatherless child, will flourish within an expanded system of cradle-to-grave welfare and education subsidies. As the fantasy world of the cartoon suggests, the progressive agenda sought to appeal to different groups of key Democratic Party supporters who do not share many economic interests. To work, the progressive vision had to unite the Democratic Party’s green donor class with overwhelmingly Democrat-supporting service sector unions like the teachers unions and SEIU as well as the “anti-patriarchal” feminists for whom husbands and fathers are unnecessary and oppressive.