Sheldon Whitehouse – A Propaganda Campaign
Saturday, July 07, 2012
Last month Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D) joined self-declared communist Van Jones and Senator Bernie Sanders – an unapologetic socialist – at the DC-based “Take Back the American Dream Conference.” Most notable was Whitehouse’s participation on a panel called “98 to 2: Raising Taxes to Invest in America and Promote Fairness.”
Besides the fact that it may be difficult to understand exactly how this woman missed the whole “Occupy / Kill the 1%” thing, this woman was posing a serious question: Going forward, how should Democrats confront the idea that all Americans should be free to keep as much of their own wealth as possible? How can they counter the wisdom of keeping wealth in the hands of the private sector rather than those of Washington elites? And, perhaps most importantly, how do Democrats defy the claim that it is immoral to presume that one has a right to someone else’s property?
Sitting beside Senator Whitehouse on last month’s panel was Guy Molyneux from the Hart Research Group, who tried to deny the veracity of Republican reasoning. “In our research, that Republican argument really is not persuasive to most voters. They do not buy the idea that most people who make over $250,000..are job creators. They don’t buy the idea that it’s going to have a substantially negative impact on the economy to raise taxes on people at that level.”
Still, Molyneux would “not counsel Democrats to spend most of our time arguing back-and-forth about exactly what the net effect on jobs would be of raising taxes on high income people [because] there is a certain superficial plausibility to the idea that higher taxes is more likely to be bad than good for the economy, and it takes time to explain why that’s not necessarily true in this case.”
Yeah, it really sucks when you have to, you know, explain things.
But if a Republican argument is “superficial,” the very thing a Democrat would want to do is delve into the details in order to expose its logical errors. So isn’t it reasonable to suspect that Molyneux is advising Democrats to avoid “arguing” not because “it takes time,” but because he’s intimidated by the exactitude of the case Republicans have been making?
Additionally, it’s pretty laughable to hear a progressive complaining about the “superficial plausibility” of Republican arguments, as there is nothing more base and simplistic than the Democrats’ whim to take from some in order to provide for others.
As much as leftists have flattered themselves by establishing a reputation of supreme intelligence, there is still nothing so unsophisticated and “superficial” as the practice of tax-and-spend. As famed economist Milton Friedman once said, “The argument for collectivism, for government doing something, is simple. Anybody can understand it. If there’s something wrong, pass a law. If somebody is in trouble, get Mr. X to help him out. The argument for voluntary cooperation, for a free market, is not nearly so simple. It says…if you allow people to cooperate voluntarily and don’t interfere with them, indirectly through the operation of the free market, they will improve matters more than you can improve them directly.”
Liberalism, not conservatism, is the ideology of the mindless and emotional.
Democrats: Losing the Argument
Taking all of this into account, it sure is difficult not to understand Molyneux’s advice as typical liberal instruction – that is, to abandon the debate altogether in favor of shallower politics.
Especially when we consider the rest of Molyneux’s guidance: “Obviously we want to reject [the Republican] claim…But mostly we want to move back to [saying that] it is overdue for the wealthy to pay their fair share of taxes, and as a country we simply cannot afford to keep handing out new goodies to the richest people in our society. That is a much better point for us to be arguing…because Republicans really have no answer to that…There is no argument they can make on a fairness terrain that will work.”
The panel’s moderator would add to Molyneux’s remarks, contending that the $3.7 trillion federal budget and its annual trillion dollar shortfalls don’t represent “a spending crisis,” but rather “a revenue crisis.” And while the “[Democratic] base would accept that,…the large number of folks in the middle, who we ultimately need here, they’re not going to buy that. They really think there’s a spending problem.”
The Left comprehends just what the Conference’s website-homepage says: “Two years ago, the corporate-backed Tea Party didn’t just win an election. It won the argument.”
So is it any wonder that Sheldon Whitehouse has decided to employ arbitrary terms such as “fairness” this election season, even while the progressive income tax code has resulted in the top 10 percent of income earners paying 70 percent of all federal income taxes – and while about half of all tax filers pay no income taxes at all?
Is it any surprise that Whitehouse is championing the “Buffett Rule,” legislation technically known as the “Paying A Fair Share Act” – a tax hike on millionaires that has been exposed as a “political gimmick” (Forbes) that “solves no significant economic problem”? (CNN)
A Sinister Campaign Strategy
When Whitehouse had his chance to speak, he explained to the audience how he tricks Rhode Islanders into supporting him: “What works well for me at home…I say, look, I don’t know a single small business in Rhode Island that is going to be made or broken by tax rates. What’s going to make or break small business is whether people are actually coming through the door to spend money, whether they have customers. And the only way they’re going to have customers is if the middle class is part of the economic recovery. And while the middle class is being left behind in the economic recovery, that’s where the attention needs to be. That seems to be convincing.”
It’s true. Placating to the “middle class” and fueling class warfare does wonders in “convincing” Rhode Islanders to vote for socialist-Democrats who have an insatiable compulsion to tax “the rich” at the onset of every economic dilemma.
But at a time when President Obama is declaring that the 2012 elections are about choosing between “two fundamentally different visions” for America, wouldn’t it be appropriate for Senator Whitehouse to actually clarify how siphoning more money out of the private sector by taxing “the rich” would serve to make the middle class “part of the economic recovery” – and precisely how this policy would result in more private-sector taxpayers so the nation can finally burst out of this economic malaise?
But having admitted that “the aim of [the Buffett Rule] is not to lower the unemployment rate,” it seems Whitehouse has already chosen his political strategy for the 2012 elections.
Confronted by ideas that are superior to his own tired liberalism, he has decided only to arm himself with calculated campaign rhetoric that he’s hoping Republicans will “have no answer” to. Instead of running an honest campaign, Whitehouse will elicit and prey upon the worst facets of humanity – greed, anger, and a lust for other people’s money.
Travis Rowley (TravisRowley.com) is chairman of the RI Young Republicans and author of The RI Republican: An Indictment of the Rhode Island Left.
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