The “new” New Deal recidivism reveals a sclerotic movement stuck in the past. The ubiquitous prefix “new” stamped on any old program reflects the movement’s horror that its ancient pedigree might be discovered. What self-respecting “progressive” xeroxes the past to boldly remake the future? The old New Deal was a mish-mash of the populist, progressive, and social gospel movements that antedated it. If the New Deal’s abandonment of the gold standard did not spark flashbacks to William Jennings Bryan, and its National Recovery Administration did not immediately bring Woodrow Wilson’s War Industries Board to mind, then its very name should have jogged memories. The Madison Avenue-style marketing ploy, an amalgamation of Woodrow Wilson’s “New Freedom” and Theodore Roosevelt’s “Square Deal,” served as a clue to the atavistic nature of the New Deal. The “new” New Deal, then, recycles a 75-year-old political gimmick that, even when first unveiled, was stale.
If “Gimme That Old Time Religion” isn”t Barack Obama’s campaign song yet, it should be. After starting July by endorsing an Obamized version of George W. Bush’s faith-based initiative, St. Barack then appeared praying atop Newsweek in a cover story entitled “What He Believes” and announced a pending joint appearance with John McCain at the megachurch of Purpose Driven Life-author Rick Warren. Who could have guessed that once a black man secured the nomination of a major party, religion rather than race would dominate the national conversation?
Last week, Wilson-appointee George authored the decision codifying homosexual marriage in California, finding for gays and lesbians (and perhaps unnamed others) a “fundamental constitutional right to form a family relationship.” Of the four jurists who overturned the will of 4.6 million California voters and the text of California’s constitution, three are GOP appointees. In fact, Republican governors nominated all but one of the seven judges on the court. The Republican Party is Pete Wilson writ large. Inveighing against judicial activism on the stump, Republican politicians have aided and abetted judicial activism in office. The strange and self-serving lesson that Republicans want voters to glean from Republican judges playing legislator and social engineer is to vote for more Republicans. Conservative voters, generally, grant their wishes.
In the candidacy of Barack Obama, one sees the history of the American Left writ small. Obama is an heir to the paternalist dynasty of the populists, progressives, New Deal, and Great Society; the Hull House-style passivism that demands city hall, the state legislature, and bodies more distant solve personal problems; the social gospel of Reverend Wright that makes politics of religion and a religion of politics; and the anti-Americanism of Ayers and Dohrn. Obama’s insistence that he offers fresh ideas stems from a refusal, common on the Left, to reflect on where those ideas came from or how those ideas fared. To remain ignorant of the Left’s abysmal track record is to perpetuate an ideology that would be dead if not for weak memories.