Democrats — a party in search of an agenda
© Victoria Sarno Jordan

Lost in the ongoing welter of the anytime-anywhere vilification of President Donald Trump and his presidency is the Democratic Party’s alarming lack of an important piece of political hardware — an agenda.

One would think after the biblical beat down in the 2014 midterm elections followed by the apocalyptic Presidential defeat of the all-but-invincible Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonTexas man indicted over allegations he created fraudulent campaign PACs FISA shocker: DOJ official warned Steele dossier was connected to Clinton, might be biased Pompeo’s Cairo speech more ‘back to the future’ than break with past MORE (who was also agenda-challenged), Democrats would have gathered in some safe space, tended to their wounds and microaggressions, and humbly prayed for guidance and inspiration — to articulate a party platform of redemptive action that would resonate more meaningfully with mainstream America.

But perhaps it was the very magnitude of the defeats, the sheer scope of the repudiation — that has resulted in the Democratic Party’s paralysis to enunciate any kind of unifying message.


Now, sadly, as we watch liberals and progressives stumbling their way back to Oz, their only solidarity is a truffle pig obsession with destroying all things Trump, condemning him in the most insulting language, and espousing a hard Left ideology straight out of central casting for Waiting for Lefty.


Of course, the grand avatar of this “creeping socialism” remains septuagenarian Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersTexas man indicted over allegations he created fraudulent campaign PACs Overnight Energy: Wheeler weathers climate criticism at confirmation hearing | Dems want Interior to stop drilling work during shutdown | 2018 was hottest year for oceans Dems offer measure to raise minimum wage to per hour MORE — with strident support from comrades Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenMoveOn leaders stepping down before 2020 election Julián Castro calls for ‘tuition-free’ public colleges, apprenticeships Native American leader asks when US will come to its ‘senses’ after Trump’s ‘racist’ attack against Warren MORE, Tom Perez, and Keith Ellison. Ironically, Sanders has never identified as a democrat and has tried to soften his full-throated socialism by calling himself a “Democratic Socialist” — insinuating that his brand of socialism is a modern doctrine, a “fair capitalism,” a kind of “minimalist socialism” — something light and airy like cotton candy and achieved through proper re-education and democratic processes.

No doubt this approach has accounted for his continuing appeal among young voters (and aging hippies), whose idealism and thin grasp of history allows them to remain blithely unaware of the Mount Everest of dead bodies amassed by socialist philosophies — affording old Leftists like Sanders and like-minded intellectuals to tip-toe gingerly around the corpses. 

For now, he and the New Democrats seem content simply to regurgitate the call for a “political revolution” — presumably dreaming of centralized governing committees made up of the poor, the downtrodden, the disenfranchised, the working class, the unions Joes . . . all singing Pete Seeger and Woody Guthrie anthems, rejoicing that the village will soon get a new tractor.

But hearing their demands, it is apparent that not only do Democrats want a political revolution but a social revolution as well — first, replacing many of those serving in the existing government and then reorganizing the cultural, economic, and industrial frameworks of America, in effect, altering the entire structure and lifeblood of our society.

Given such lofty aspirations, the obvious question is How? 

Through what agenda?

Exploring the DNC website for answers, one discovers the current Democratic mindset is long on collectivist ideals and rhetoric but woefully short on pragmatic solutions. Filled with lists of bulleted topics and their high-minded explanations, one is hard-pressed to find an argument — some kind of compelling rationale for converting America into a European-style welfare state and altering the very nature of what makes Americans uniquely who we are.

And predictably, never missing an opportunity to disparage, the site is larded throughout with petty insults and thinly veiled aspersions about Republicans and the current administration, who from the DNC’s perspective, are a malignancy that needs to be excised by any means necessary.

In lieu of an agenda, the overarching Democratic mantra remains the same as it has been since Karl Marx — economic inequality — whose solution also endures: denouncing the rich.

Democrats have long made it an art form of guilt-tripping America’s producers and achievers for their successes—insisting that what they have earned is not really theirs but stolen from society.

Sound familiar?

Who can forget Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaFormer congressmen, RNC members appointed to Trump administration roles If Republicans rebuked Steve King, they must challenge Donald Trump ‘Family Guy’ says it will stop making jokes about gay people MORE’s famous collectivist assertion on the 2012 campaign trail: “If you’ve been successful, you didn’t get there on your own. . . . If you’ve got a business — you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen.”

To Obama and the Democrats, credit for one’s achievement really belongs to the State — subtly implying that individuals have little chance of accomplishing anything on their own without the help or “cooperation” of government.

Since the days of Joe the Plumber and Obama’s call for wealth redistribution, the Democratic Party has insisted America’s top 1 percent of earners pay more than their 40 percent of the federal tax bill, and that the top 10 percent pay more than the 70 percent they ante-up annually. It’s not enough.

They must pay their “fair share.”

But Democratic numbers never seem to add up.

For example, “free public college tuition,” just one in the cornucopia of Bernie Sanders’ entitlements, would be paid for by a financial transaction tax (FTT), a 0.1 percent tax on all Wall Street financial transactions. The thought being, let the fat cats pay for burgeoning college costs.

However, as pointed out by the Adam SmithDavid (Adam) Adam SmithDems seek House panel's support to block military funds for Trump border wall 2019 should be Trump’s free trade year Congress poised to push back at Trump on Saudi Arabia, Syria MORE Institute, the proposed FTT tax would have an effect of reducing the number of financial trades — thus generating less revenue rather than more — and any initial short-term gains would be offset by a larger hit to the general economy down the road.

Echoed by the Tax Foundation, an independent tax policy think tank, “it (FTT) is a poor tax base that results in ‘pyramiding’ by taxing the same economic activity multiple times.”

In fact, when the FTT was introduced in Sweden in the 1980s, not only did it prove to be an inadequate revenue raiser, but also caused decreases in the capital gains tax — resulting in a decline in overall tax revenues.

In the end, the Democratic Party’s moral-sounding “agenda” to fight economic inequality reveals itself nothing more than collectivist hocus-pocus to retract the rights of producers in favor of those who feel it is their “right” to make claims on the production of others.

As William Boetcker, an influential American religious leader, once counseled, “You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong; you cannot help the poor by destroying the rich.”

For Democrats: hating President TrumpDonald John TrumpPentagon update to missile defense doctrine will explore space-base technologies, lasers to counter threats Giuliani: 'I never said there was no collusion' between the Trump campaign and Russia Former congressmen, RNC members appointed to Trump administration roles MORE, boycotting his inauguration, calling for his impeachment, and resisting him spitefully at every turn does not an agenda make — nor is it a blueprint for a political party that American voters can place their trust in. 

Russell Paul La Valle is an opinion writer whose work has appeared in the The Washington Post, The New York Times, New York Daily News, Newsday and The Village Voice.  and many others. He is a former contributing editor to the philosophical think tank, The Objectivist Center.

The views expressed by contributors are their own and are not the views of The Hill.