In case you missed it (and thanks to the RNC’s bizarre censure of Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) and apparent endorsement of political violence against police officers, you probably did) Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) recently offered the most blatant proof point yet that far left progressives view climate change as a proxy war against capitalism.
In an interview with Yahoo Finance, AOC declared that capitalism “is not a redeemable system for us.”
She described capitalism as “the absolute pursuit of profit at all human, environmental, and social cost.”
AOC’s argument is folly. The system she describes as irredeemable has lifted hundreds of millions of people out of poverty and is the key to unlocking the innovations that are required for the climate and clean energy solutions of the future.
As Nick Loris, our Vice President of Public Policy, writes in his report Free Economies are Clean Economies, countries that embrace economic freedom are twice as clean as less free economies.
George Mason University economist Donald Boudreaux puts it succinctly. He says we are “cleaned by capitalism.”
In normal political times, when a prominent member of one party makes an outlandish statement like AOC’s the other party marshals a robust and clear rebuttal. In this case, a normal political party would make a passionate case for economic freedom (less government, lower taxes, less regulation, private property rights and the rule of law). But these are not normal times.
Instead of countering AOC, the RNC was busy trying to explain that its censure resolution of Liz Cheney, characterizing January 6 as “legitimate political discourse” was not condoning the actions of a mob that beat police officers and crushed one in a doorway. A bipartisan Senate report concluded that seven deaths were connected to this day of “legitimate political discourse.”
The Wall Street Journal editorial board rightly asked, “Why are Republicans wasting time dividing their own supporters? … When political parties try to purge non-crazy dissenters, the result is that they get smaller.”
Meanwhile, National Review called the censure of Liz Cheney, “morally repellent and politically self-destructive.” NR writes, “The action of the mob on January 6 was an indefensible disgrace. It is deserving of both political accountability and criminal prosecution. Aspects of it are also fit subjects for a properly conducted congressional inquiry. It is wrong to minimize or excuse what happened that day.”
Having drafted thousands of statements for elected officials, there is no way the RNC did not know exactly what it was doing with its language and phrasing, which makes the effort even more repulsive. Violence against police officers is wrong in all cases. Republicans who accept the RNC language lose all credibility to condemn acts of violence committed by progressives.
The Trump loyalists who masterminded this act of political malpractice and cowardice have deluded themselves into believing they are outsiders uniquely qualified to divine the will of the people. They are not outsiders. They are establishment insiders attempting to claw their way back into power. And they have no problem habitually lying to and abusing their own supporters in the process. This playbook is hardly new and inventive. More than 2,000 years ago, Cicero said, “Human nature being what it is, all men prefer a false promise to a flat refusal.” While far from Cicero’s rhetorical class, Trump has mastered the art of the false promise.
In Breach of Trust: How Washington Turns Outsiders Into Insiders, a book I wrote with the late Representative and Senator Tom Coburn in 2003, we called this timeless crowd careerists who pursue power over principle. For the careerists, the perfect political moment to do the right is always a mirage that is just beyond the horizon of the next election. But for leaders, the perfect political moment is now.
The war against capitalism is real. The right thing to do to protect our natural and economic environment is to make the case for economic freedom, focus on the future and tell defeated politicians what’s past is past.