Democrats and socialism

Niall Ferguson is the Milbank Family senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford. He is the author of The Square and the Tower: Networks, Hierarchies and the Struggle for Global Power

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez speaks alongside Sen. Ed Markey at a news conference about the Green New Deal, in Washington, on Feb. 7, 2019.

PETE MAROVICH/The New York Times News Service

Last week I began to understand how the Democrats will lose the 2020 presidential election. The reality is that they are not one party, but two: a liberal and a socialist. The former can beat Donald Trump – but not if it is associated with the latter.

Socialism is a term for so long regarded as anathema in the United States that it used to be avoided altogether: Instead of socialism, one said either progressive or the s-word. These days, however, the s-word is no longer taboo. In their eagerness to recruit a new generation of young voters, the Democrats have – not for the first time in their history – admitted a faction of radical ideologues into their midst.

Exhibit A is the “Green New Deal” unveiled on Thursday by the Bronx’s very own La Pasionaria, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC), and the rather less glamorous 72-year-old Massachusetts senator Ed Markey.

Now don’t get me wrong: I’m not in denial about climate change. But the measures proposed in the Green New Deal to “achieve net-zero greenhouse-gas emissions” are breathtaking. Comrades, we’re talking about a “10-year national mobilization” on the scale of the Great Patriotic War … sorry, I meant the Second World War. By the end of the Green Leap Forward, 100 per cent of U.S. power demand will be met from “clean, renewable, and zero-emission energy sources,” which means geothermal, hydro, solar and wind – nukes are out, according to the FAQ sheet on the “10-Year Plan” released by AOC’s office.

“All existing buildings in the United States” are going to be upgraded “to achieve maximum energy efficiency.” And, there is going to be investment in high-speed rail “at a scale where air travel stops becoming necessary.” The people’s commissars are also going to “guarantee a job with a family-sustaining wage, adequate family and medical leave, paid vacations, and retirement to all people of the United States.” The highlight of AOC’s FAQ sheet was the pledge of “economic security” for people “unable or unwilling to work.” …

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