In recent primaries around the country, several left leaning or socialist candidates won their elections handily. The biggest upset was Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s defeat of fellow democrat and longtime incumbent, Representative Joe Crowley from New York’s Bronx district. Her platform matches the cradle-to-grave programs popular in Scandinavian countries. (Click) With taxes and government assistance, she hopes to end economic inequality in this country.
Though short on specifics, she can point to Sweden as one model. With a successful safety net system that reaches back to the 1960s, one wonders why the United States has been slow, even hostile, to following its example. (Click) Our Puritan background and our history may have something to do with our reluctance. The Puritans were strong adherents to self-reliance (Click) and taming the wild west required much of that. In any case, our nation decided to limit government involvement in our private lives.
This view is the hardpan background upon which Ocasio-Cortez and her socialist adherents must sow their new seeds. The task won’t be easy. New leaders will require patience and expect slow progress.
Technology may push change a little faster than in the past, however. If robotics and artificial intelligence causes too many jobs to disappear, then the nation, as it did after the Depression, will be forced to redistribute wealth. Even so, these left-minded dreamers must keep their eye on the model countries. Even utopia has its limits.
Coinciding with the wave of immigration, Sweden has raised its marginal tax rate to 60%. The hike is proving to be insufficient. Social programs are buckling and the public’s tolerance for more taxes is waning. (“The Thinning Swedish Welfare State,” by Amanda Billner, et al, Bloomberg Businessweek, July 2, 2018, pg. 29.) Concomitantly, the Sweden Democrats, a party with Nazi roots, has increased its support by 25%. (Ibid, pg. 29.)
History warns us against visionaries who eschew slow and steady change. But, to chart a new course for the ship of state requires more than righteousness and passion. It requires deliberation. “Progress is neither swift nor easy,” advises Madame Curie. (Click) For the good of their objectives, I hope the new visionaries can remember that. In a democracy, ideology can’t be forced. If it is, then, like lions, enemies will hide in the grass and wait for the right moment to attack.