Ed Driscoll

2013: The Year The Progressive Narrative Collided With Reality

I’m late linking to these year-end wrap-ups, but since they point the way towards November, allow me a few minutes to attempt to lace them together. First up, Bill Frezza of Forbes describes the recently departed year as “2013: The Year The Progressive Narrative Collided With Reality:”


Progressivism has been on the rise for the past century since a pedantic Princeton professor seized the White House with a mere 42 percent of the vote. From “He kept us out of War,” to fighting a “War to end all Wars,” Woodrow Wilson became the prototype activist president. He relegated the concept of strictly limited and enumerated powers to the dustbin of history while helping to turn the Constitution into a “living document.” The federal government was set on a new course with a social, economic, and cultural footprint that has been expanding ever since.

Progressivism reached its pinnacle in the presidency of Barack Obama. Running on “Hope and Change” and claiming the mortgage meltdown was “Bush’s fault,” he went on to achieve passage of the Affordable Care Act with Wilsonian promises that will forever be linked to his name. But unlike Wilson’s “War to end all Wars,” which was not proven a lie until after its author had passed from this world, Obamacare inconveniently began unraveling before it was even launched.

And so, 2013 may prove to be the year the progressive spell was finally broken. The crash of Obama’s signature health care legislation, the Detroit bankruptcy, a hapless foreign policy as ill-defined as the Syrian red line, the meteoric growth of Food Stamp Nation, millions of long-term unemployed leaving the workforce, college graduates begging for jobs while struggling under $1 trillion in loans, the collapse of the global warming juggernaut, the debasement of the dollar with nothing to show for it but a stock market bubble—there are just too many progressive fingerprints on an unbroken string of failures for a good-intentions hall pass to carry much weight this time.

If Republicans are smart enough to just get out of the way and let Democrats stew in their own juice, rather than fall into a string of self-defeating culture war traps, the 2014 midterms could become a wave election. Obama may well come to envy Wilson’s inability to carry out the burdens of office in his administration’s final days.


At Real Clear Politics, Robert Tracinski adds, “We Told You So:”

Over the holidays, Obama selectively suspended the individual mandate, and extended a series of rubber deadlines for final signups in the online health insurance exchanges.

A record two million people visited HealthCare.gov on Monday, while state exchanges, too, experienced record traffic and new applications ahead of the Dec. 23 deadline—which, at the last minute, became a Dec. 24 deadline—to apply for health insurance in order to have coverage in place by Jan. 1.

This was already an extended deadline from Dec. 15, which was supposed to give insurance underwriters and carriers just enough time to have their clients signed up and ready to go for the start of the new year. But now they’re swamped with less than a week to go.

It is easy to laugh at how panicked, pathetic, and desperate this all is, and this is an excellent opportunity to reinstate Tracinski’s Rule of American Politics, which states that “the left must be suppressed, hounded, mocked, vilified, and made to feel ashamed of itself. The idea is that we need to keep their heads down and keep them on the defensive, because the moment they feel confident and emboldened, they will attempt to take away all of our liberties.” [Emphasis mine — Ed.]

But it is also very ominous, because these suspensions and constantly changing deadlines indicate that there is no law any more, just presidential edicts.

George Will described the president’s habit of announcing changes to the law at press conferences and complained that he is effectively treating the White House press room as a third chamber of the legislature. Will eloquently sums up ObamaCare as “a tapestry of coercions mitigated by random acts of presidential mercy.”

Or as I put it way back in July:

ObamaCare is not really a law. It is an open-ended grant of power and a set of vague guidelines and aspirations, with all of the details to be filled in by the executive branch.


In his column at NRO, titled, “The Year of the Dud,” Victor Davis Hanson adds, “Obamacare may take its place among Sasquatch, crop circles, and the Loch Ness monster as one of the great hoaxes of all time:”

Before the 2012 election, Americans swallowed hook, line, and sinker the con that they could all at once keep their existing health plans, keep their own doctors, keep their 25-year-olds on the family health plan, never be denied coverage for a costly preexisting condition, sign up instantaneously on a website, buy insurance only after becoming seriously ill — and yet save $2,500 in annual premiums as part of the bargain. And all that without any new taxes on the middle class.

In 2013, the ruse was revealed. Voters learned that nothing is free, and that it’s impossible to get more coverage for more people at less cost. Plans were canceled, doctors were dropped, premiums soared, websites crashed. Medicare was raided. Taxes were raised on everything from medical devices to real-estate sales. Medicaid enrollments spiraled.

Which is why Jonathan Last is predicting “2014: The Year of Obama’s Reckoning:”

“Civil society” is the layer of organizations, associations, and traditions that have historically mediated between individuals and the state. It is the source of a great deal of good and has long been revered as an important aspect of democratic self-government. But today’s liberals find it an annoyance. They believe instead that the power of the state must be made ever more expansive and irresistible. They wish to sweep away imperfect civil society so that all individuals may—must!—have direct, personal encounters with their government.

The American left didn’t always think this way.

The corruptions of Obamacare are manifold. The president proposed it without having any real goals for it. Democratic legislators voted for it without liking it. And now, even as it fails, smart people who should know better are being stampeded into defending it. Each of these ill turns were prompted not by wisdom, or necessity, or even ideology, but rather by simple, base partisanship. There will be a price for all of this. And the first part of the bill comes due on November 4.


To follow up on my post yesterday, keep your doctor, change your senator if he or she lied to you on that topic, and drive the left into the river:

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