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February 13, 2019

CONRAD BLACK: The Democrats’ French Dilemma.

An eminent former cabinet member and I are having an amicable running debate about what level of concern is justified by the steadily more extreme espousal of lunatic policy positions by influential Democrats. Personal income top tax rates of 70 percent (Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders), nationalized health care (Kamala Harris), open borders and sanctuaries against federal immigration laws (most audible Democrats), the killing of live new-born children (flirtations by many, apart from the governor of Virginia, who took the initial plunge on his way all the way down last week), and now, a green dictatorship that would radically renovate every building in America, abolish road and air transportation, and require brigades of people to diaper flatulent cows (the inevitable Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Senator Ed Markey, inter alia). My well-travelled friend thinks that as the polls seem to support a good deal of this foolishness, it is very dangerous.

I think it is a welcome development, as in their frustration that Donald Trump has emerged as a serious challenge and not just an electoral fluke who can be easily purged and disposed of, the Democrats are getting everything off their chest in a mighty primal disgorgement.

Radical political change, even mere hustings-posturing and salonniere-bombast, always becomes more and more exaggerated before it snaps back. Genuine revolutionary movements go farther and farther until they reach the law of 22 Prairial—the French Revolution’s “Law of the Great Terror.” The Committee of Public Safety accelerated and expedited executions of the accused, after pro forma trials and on the flimsiest denunciations. (Michael Avenatti-level allegations, in other words).

Then, suddenly, Thermidor arrives. The majority soon is composed of people who think they might be next, chaos is at hand, and a little ordinary government starts sounding like a good idea again. . . .

The United States is not revolutionary France and these explosions of policy idiocy among the Democrats are acts of frustration and dispossession (of a sacred right to govern), and the level of civil disturbance is much less than it was during the worst of the Civil Rights-era divisions and the Vietnam War protests. The country is becoming very prosperous and is certainly not being defeated or humbled in the world, and no serious person is calling for violence, though Maxine Waters and a few of the other Democratic extremists come close at times, and the president has suggested that some of his hecklers could profit from a punch in the face. But instead of the logical course when a party in a democracy is defeated—regrouping and mapping out a strategy to win the next election—what we have is the Democrats fast-forwarding in a race to be the most outspoken and avant garde on every issue, as they watch their whole policy agenda go up in flames.

I’m a bit less sanguine than Black, but the entertainment value is certainly high.