Progressives vs. Democracy

The health care debate reveals a nasty tendency within liberal politics.


At press time, the House-Senate reconciliation over some version of a health care bill was still lurching along. Although key details were changing daily, one fact has remained constant: Any legislation that might end up passing through the Democrat-controlled Congress will involve enormous new government subsidies, onerous mandates on private insurance companies (and their customers), and tighter government controls on a large and growing percentage of the U.S. economy.

Yet the process has already proven to be an unconscionable disappointment to many liberal legislators and commentators. Their increasingly shrill reaction to the debate has revealed a disturbing strain of American political thought that cannot comprehend how anyone could disagree with a big-government solution to health care without being evil, stupid, insane, or all three. Faced with the infuriating complication of democratic dissent, advocates of greater government involvement in health care, including some federal officials, have unleashed a vicious campaign against a sizable political minority.

For many, the Obama administration botched reform from the get-go by ruling out one longstanding progressive goal: a universal "single payer" system, in which the government spends every health care dollar, instead of the current 50 percent, with no competitive market in medical insurance at all. "In the real world," declared the incendiary Rolling Stone columnist Matt Taibbi, who combines Hunter Thompson–style invective with policy wonkery, "nothing except a single-payer system makes any sense." Having to live in our allegedly nonsensical world has driven single-payer enthusiasts mad.

Their consolation prize was supposed to be a "public option," a government-run insurance plan that all Americans could buy into (not just the elderly and poor, as with existing Medicare and Medicaid), theoretically outcompeting private insurers on both cost containment and care quality. But when the on-again, off-again public option appeared (prematurely, it turned out) to have died in the fall, it was, Taibbi wrote in October, "the moment when our government lost us for good. It was that bad."

Such uncomprehending hyperbole is not limited to opinion journalism, and it has been only sporadically directed at the people who actually hold power. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D- Calif.) in July slammed health insurers—who have largely supported and helped shape most reform efforts this political season—as "immoral …villains," even while she continued to back plans that would force every American to buy insurance from them. Pelosi's counterpart in the Senate, Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), called the many U.S. citizens who spoke out against health care legislation at town hall meetings last August "evil mongers."

The hate bath of policy disagreement was just warming up. Washington Post business columnist Steven Pearlstein echoed George W. Bush's you're-either-with-us-or-with-the-terrorists formula in an August column. "The recent attacks by Republican leaders and their ideological fellow-travelers on the effort to reform the health-care system have been so misleading, so disingenuous, that they could only spring from a cynical effort to gain partisan political advantage," Pearlstein wrote. "They've become political terrorists, willing to say or do anything to prevent the country from reaching a consensus on one of its most serious domestic problems."

If the mainstream press was boiling, what about the progressive netroots? A Daily Kos blogger who calls him/herself "Nuisance Industry" voted to deport those citizens who don't acknowledge the wisdom of the public option. "You heard me, get out," Nuisance wrote, in a popular post that was cheered by hundreds of Daily Kos commenters and jeered by only a few. "You hate the people here enough that you want them to die.…You are un-American. Get out of my country.…You'd rather have our people die than provide them health care that doesn't bankrupt them."

Compared to such vitriol, the administration sounded like a voice of temperance, if not reason. Still, the executive branch also has played the evil-or-stupid card. In August, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs blamed public opposition to ObamaCare on "misconceptions" rooted in deliberate disinformation. The voters, alas, are dupes. President Obama has repeatedly gone after the lying liars above them, using the kind of shadowy language that hints at conspiracy.

"I will not stand by while the special interests use the same old tactics to keep things exactly the way they are," the president said in a September speech to Congress. "If you misrepresent what's in the plan, we will call you out." Call you out, yes, but not by name— an understandable strategy, considering that all the major corporate interests within the health care industry have been busy negotiating with (and lending support to) the White House and Congress. "Because we're so close to real reform," Obama similarly warned in a Labor Day speech, "the special interests are doing what they always do: trying to scare the American people and preserve the status quo. But I've got a question for them: What's your answer? What's your solution? The truth is, they don't have one. It's do nothing."

 Illiberalism, Left and Right

It takes an impressive amount of willful ignorance—or some worse quality—to conclude that opposition to a complicated overhaul of a complicated health care system could only be rooted in a do-nothing fondness for the status quo. For extended demonstrations to the contrary, read the magazine you are holding in your hands, starting with "The Gatekeeper" (page 22), "Markets, Not Mandates" (page 44), and the interview with Whole Foods CEO John Mackey (page 36). As Mackey learned the hard way, offering alternative solutions to health care's problems is an invitation not to discussion-advancing dialogue but to discussion-ending boycotts.

You would think that the dissonance between advocating sober cross-partisan policy discussion and preemptively dismissing the political opposition would be enough to make some heads pop, but you'd be wrong. Los Angeles Times columnist Tim Rutten in August bemoaned the lack of "substantive and realistic discussion of the critical issues surrounding healthcare reform," then in September wrote that ObamaCare's opposition "is overpopulated with nuts, fundamentalists and paranoids who won't be easily stopped by a few congressional reprimands." The president himself, in his address to Congress, said his door was "always open" to those bringing "a serious set of proposals," even while ruling out any attempt to break the link between employment and insurance.

The odd debate reveals something disturbing about how American progressives, in and out of power, view politics. After eight years of what they perceived as illegitimate, dangerous, and idiotic government, it was time for their set of sweeping solutions, so inarguably right, to be enacted. The attitude is disturbingly illiberal: They know the proper solution to a problem, a solution that involves commanding the resources and liberty of the entire country. Anyone who objects or obstructs is dangerous and deserves to be ignored, shouted down, marginalized, even deported. There are decent, smart, independent thinkers who want to make sure all Americans should live and be well. Then there are those, wallowing in their own greedy crapulence, who, because either their pockets or their heads are filled with the filthy detritus of insurance industry cash and lies, want Americans to die. That second group, it should go without saying, scarcely deserves a place at the table of American democracy.

This tarring of the minority is not limited to progressives. From a perspective of political "realism," the conservative writer James Pinkerton suggested in October at Fox News' website that libertarian-leaning voices in the debate need to realize that government management of huge parts of the health care economy are so universally popular that it's a waste of time and brain power to even talk about opposing them. Such voices should back Republican proposals for big-government solutions and show "respect for the majority," he concluded.

There was a legitimate point buried in Pinkerton's piece. Libertarians who expect American politics to produce pure libertarian policies (or even to stay within the limits of the U.S. Constitution) are as delusional as the progressives who thought the public option (or even a single-payer system) was inevitable. But that doesn't mean health care free marketers shouldn't fight as tenaciously as they can to sell their points to the public and policy makers. And is it really showing "respect for the majority" to pass a bill that not even the majority of legislators will read in full, let alone understand?

Eternal Recurrence

Public talk about health care is, in the end, just talk. It's likely that some time during this administration, a set of words will issue from Congress, and President Obama will sign those words. Suddenly, people will be unable to do things they used to be able to do, under penalty of fines or eventual jail time. Suddenly, people will be required to do things they didn't formerly have to do, with the same framework of threats and penalties. People will be forced to pay for things that a group of people in Washington have decided they have to pay for. The legislation will create a new set of incentives and costs, with results as unintended as the current health care system was unintended by those who invented Medicare, who linked insurance tax deductions to employment, who barred interstate competition among insurers, and who forced all insurance companies to offer certain kinds of coverage.

Something approaching true market competition—which, in other areas, has never produced a field as increasingly expensive and confusing as the current health care industry—will not be tried. We will continue to wonder why the health "market" causes social problems of a sort that no other market does. And with costs unaffordable, with outcomes still unsatisfying, politicians will once again systematically rethink health care markets. That pattern will continue until government realizes that the troubles with the health care economy are exacerbated by its attempts to solve them, and chooses, carefully and thoughtfully, to disengage itself from the industry.

In the meantime, the national debate will move on to other items from the progressive wish list, starting with a massive cap-and-trade bill aimed at reducing the emission of greenhouse gases. If the health care debate is any guide, calls for deportation may soon reach an all-time high.

Senior Editor Brian Doherty ( is the author of This Is Burning Man (BenBella), Radicals for Capitalism (PublicAffairs), and Gun Control on Trial (Cato).

NEXT: Our Way or... Well, Our Way

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  1. Some of us have not gotten our print issue yet. Why is that?

    1. Because it’s early December, and this is in the January issue?

      1. HA-no.

        It’s OK, everyone. I’m home from work and the print issue came in the mail today.

        You know, for a magazine called “Reason” you people sure take a long time to deliver. Real libertarians would have them here on the first day of the month. And not sent by USPS. What hypocrites, and you guys even use ROADS!

        1. You smell strong of sarcasm, sagacious one.



  2. Oh hell, why is Obama waiting? Just issue Directive 10-289.

    1. I was thinking maybe an Article 58.

      Yes, I fully acknowledge that I have just qualified myself for the Godwin award for the day (or at least something comparably close).

  3. [A]dvocates of greater government involvement in health care, including some federal officials, have unleashed a vicious campaign against a sizable political minority.

    And that’s just it. The “sizeable minority” must always be crushed in order to bring about the “change” that the mob, at any given time, is clamoring for. When an election doesn’t provide the victors an ostensible mandate, they will, eventually, resort to coercion. It has always been thus.

    1. First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win.

      1. …and then you become them.

  4. The health-care debate has just revealed this to YOU? You must not interact with the moonbats very often.

  5. So the proposition is that we should forget about the Constitution and become a pure democracy?

    1. Except when there is popular opposition to progressive ideas. Then we need enlightened dictatorship.

    2. If the constitution mandated universal health care, that would be the proposition.

      1. Turning to History the German leader and his Italian counter part before WW2
        laided their plan for their countrie out and you might be supprised to see that its hardly different than Mr. 1’s which included Health care.

  6. That pattern will continue until government realizes that the troubles with the health care economy are exacerbated by its attempts to solve them, and chooses, carefully and thoughtfully, to disengage itself from the industry.

    Ha ha. Good one, Brian.

    1. Ha! I LOL’ed at that too.

  7. Randy Barnett thinks the mandate will be unconstitutional…..age-today/

    not that that will slow them down. Why let that piece of paper stand in the way of progress?

    I agree with P Brooks. Very, bitterly, funny.

  8. There will always be black markets. Why is that Mr. Progressive?

  9. I understand the cosmobligation to stick some “Republicans totally do it too!” in everything ever, but that’s a truly shitty counterexample. There are some good ones out there, I’m sure, but Pinkerton is a typical Beltway conservatism-is-already-defeated RINO type, not a “GIT ON ZE TRAINZ!” maniac like our lefty friends are.

    1. I’ve always wondered why a bunch of self-styled non-conformists keep insisting that everyone else “get with the program”.

  10. The recent attacks by Republican leaders and their ideological fellow-travelers

      1. Didn’t you know, there’s a massive libertarian subversion afoot. Funded by savings accounts stored up from ancient Icelandic clans gold hordes.

  11. Democracy is a shitty system of government.

    1. bingo.

      1. I think I said something about this once…

  12. Obama Sucks

    Democrats SUCK

    I’m voting republican. Hopefully, I’ll be voting for Sarah Palin, Dick CHeney, Or Ann Coulter. I’ll vote for any republican.

    I don’ care anymore.

    This article is actually speaking about ME. I’ve had it with the Democrats. I’m NOT a Democrat. I’m a Liberal (Progressive)…and There is no party representing us.

    1. I haven’t been paying an exorbitant amount of attention to H’n’R lately… what is the definition of a “Liberal (Progressive)” these days?

      1. It’s definitely not a democrat.

        A democrat is nothing more than a log-cabin republican

        1. Hey Alice,if you’re done with the Democrats, and you want to keep dope alive, why not vote Libertarian?

          1. If Alice is truly done with the Democrats, he should vote Green or help support the CPUSA.

            He is, after all, a progressive.

    2. No offense, but I think you’re just venting. I felt the same way about the GOP after 5-6 years of their rule, but in the end I just couldn’t bring myself to vote for Obama. McCain was an awful candidate, but I held my nose and voted for him anyway (vpted Ron Paul in the primary). If you’re really a liberal/progressive, you’ll “come back to the reservation” in 2010 and 2012.

      1. So how’s that Hope and Change you voted for working out? Has your erection subsided yet?

    3. I don’t believe for one second that you’re a progressive, Alice, but I’ll respond as if you were.

      Democrats may be to an extent corporate whores. But as you seem to realize, we have two choices for the most part. Democrat or Republican. There is no justification for any sane person to vote Republican, ever. Swallow your ideological puritanism and go with who’s more likely to advance your interests, rather than obliterate them forever.

      1. go with who’s more likely to advance your interests, rather than obliterate them forever

        IOW, ditch the Republican/Democrat kleptocracy and vote Libertarian.

        1. Tony wouldn’t do that. The LP isn’t lefty enough for his tastes. We’re too individualistic, too. Collectivists hate that sort of thing.

      2. “A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves money from the public treasure. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates promising the most money from that treasury, with the result that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy followed by a dictatorship, usually after approximately 200 years. “

        1. Bold prediction… seems to assume voters are rational.

          1. Kind of like how economics assumes that market participants are rational.

        2. That quote was awesome. From what I’ve heard, sounds like The Road to Serfdom, but I haven’t read that. Source?

          1. Alexander Fraser Tytler Lord Woodhouselee (Scottish history professor at The University of Edinborough in 1787)

            1. So did the British government collapse in 1987?

              1. No but here is the whole story to read about this “quote”. Google is a dangerous tool!


      3. Hey Chony why don’t you try advancing your interests on your own dime?

      4. Irony on Parade: “There is no justification for any sane person to vote Republican, ever.” Hey, Tony, that thing that just flew over your head was the point of this article.

    4. Alice you should be happy with the Dems OR the GOP if you’re a progressive.

  13. A psychotic is a guy who’s just found out what’s going on.

    -William S. Burroughs

  14. Deportation? Where do I sign!

  15. Ah yes, the enlightened statist dichotomy reveals itself. Agree with us on everything or we won’t stand for anything but total control of everything.

    …and Matt Taibbi can snorkle my tumescent crap-poker.

    1. I wouldn’t insult tumescent crap-poker snorkerlers by associating a creep like Matt Taibbi with them

  16. I remember the left wing going berserk over the gay marriage votes in California and Maine. After California in particular, they were taking all of their rage towards black voters and trying to convince themselves that it was all the Mormons’ fault.


    1. Nothing tops the meltdown after Sarah Palin’s RNC speech (although her speech at MCcain’s announcement of a veep pick comes close).Check Weigel’s post here for example.He totally abdicated the “dispassionate journalist” persona and and went full-blown nuts.

  17. Deportation *snicker* shit in their hand and fill the other with items checked off their wish lists, which gets full first matters little, I’m not going anywhere.

  18. So you mean an ideological movement dares to advance its policies despite a lack of popular support!? My God, those progressives are uniquely awful in their disrespect for American democracy.

    1. I believe his point is that progressives profess a belief in democracy until the results of the democratic process turn against them. Just as conservatives profess a belief in constitutional restraints until it is their policies being restrained.

    2. progressives are uniquely awful in their disrespect for American democracy.

      Uniquely awful in that they’re going to do it despite not having the money to do so and despite having no legal right to do it. And anyway, fuck you.

      1. As long as creditors lend and the Supreme Court upholds, I see no truth in your words.

      2. And anyways, MY point is that this element of anti-democratic sentiment that Doherty appears to believe inherent to “progressives” is, in fact, an effect of the realities of governance. It is pragmatism, not ideology, that Doherty has identified.

        1. yes, pragmatic totalitarianism

          1. Indeed it seems many progressives believe that more power concentrated in the “right” policy-makers would be a good thing. Whether or not that would be or lead to totalitarianism is another question.

        2. Yes, but idea of “what works” is different from yours. I don’t really care if it works for you…

  19. As one of the horrible progressive monsters who dream every day of the sound of one boot stomping upon the throat of free markets eternally, I naturally spend every second of my Marxist, Marxist day reading what those far more intelligent, honest, and liberal than myself write.

    And as I read through this piece, I found no mention of two words: “Death Panels.” There was a lot about my fellow fascist liberal brothers in arms & evil, but not those two words.

    I’m tempted to go on at length about how liberals are never, ever to meet hyperbole with their own, or to make emotional arguments, as it is acceptible from our wingnut betters, but pure, 150 proof Hitler from us.

    But alas, I feel I’ve stifled your free speech enough. Good evening.

  20. Fuck off, Tony…

    1. Don’t worry, I have no intention of gracing this hysterical right-wing screed with my presence (except now).

      Would this Doherty person ever describe teabaggers as “shrill” because as far as I’m concerned they’re the fucking definition of shrill.

      1. I’m sure those red coats thought those yanks were shrill as well.

      2. It’s always time to be civil when your party is in power.

        Where’s the outrage? I demand outrage. Possibly with giant puppets, and posters comparing the president to Hitler. Also, we could use a few flag burnings. Since everyone is threating to deport us an accusing us of unpatriotism anyway, perhaps we should embrace them.

      3. Hey, Tony, ever see some of the Code Pink demonstrations?

        1. Yes, and they would definitely qualify as shrill, and I would argue their antics are counterproductive. But at least they’re protesting things that actually exist.

          1. Better to protest a massive new tax and bureaucracy and usurpation of individual liberties while it’s just a bill than wait until it’s too late.

            1. massive new tax and bureaucracy and usurpation of individual liberties

              Yeah exactly the opposite of this hysterical nonsense is what I was referring to.

              1. They are protesting massive spending, massive new bureaucracy, more government and less freedom. That’s what’s being proposed.

                Why should they wait for the bills to pass? Then you would say “well you should have said something when we were having the debate!”

                They are saying something.

                They are saying NO.

  21. The same thing was happening with the Warmers branding their critics as ignorant bumpkins who didn’t understand the basic tenets of science.

    Indeed, Gore and Co. had moved on from arguing their position to calling people who didn’t buy into AGW – or buy into the statist “solutions” for AGW – “deniers” on the level of the most fundie creationist.

    The climategate emails have been a powerful antidote to such rhetoric, I think. Too bad there is no such antidote for such rhetoric in the health-care mess.

  22. What the hell is the story on Tony? Is he really as moronic as he sounds or this this some inside joke no one has let me in on?

    1. He’s a bad faith asswipe griefer who thinks he has some holy mission from Obama to both dismiss us as completely irrelevant and promote libertarianism as the greatest evil ever known. Also posts under the name Chad, thus the blended moniker “Chony.”

      He’s basically the piece of shit that falls off a cat’s ass hairs in the middle of the hallway some hours after he’s last used the litterbox.

      1. How do you come up with these insults? And are you planning to collect them on a blog anytime soon?

        1. That’s not a bad idea. I’ll have to make a compilation.

          1. 1. Set the insults to rap
            2. Provoke Eminem into a verbal dispute where he inevitable threatens to kill you.*
            3. $$$

            * You think a guy who has banked on making his life a public spectacle would not be so thin skinned.

            1. Likely the third time I’ve avoided using the ‘-ly’ suffix today. Fighting my subconscious on that one. They are an aesthetic impediment to the English language, proper or not.

      2. Tony is, indeed, quite the hobbledehoy.

    2. I don’t understand his purpose here actually except to provide easy rhetorical wins for libertarians.

      If it weren’t for him, Chad, and MNG we wouldn’t have a venue to refute progressive statist talking points.

      We get to refute the left, and then point out how the right does the same or similar things in the context of the discussion.

      It’s perfect.

      The result is the casual reader who might be receptive to a philosophy of freedom is inoculated against the fallacious talking points which might be used to pull him back into the system.

      As I have said before, if it were not for them we’d have to have someone here pose as a progressive to serve this function.

      1. statist talking points

        Not all of us can be as rhetorically nuanced as the person who yodeled something about “massive new tax and bureaucracy and usurpation of individual liberties.”

        1. That’s just it, Tony… that’s the only path Democrats are proposing – massive new tax and bureaucracy, and fuck individual liberties.

          Why should we trust your party now that it’s in the process of abusing power? We’re barely a year past the PREVIOUS administration abusing its power. Enough of this shit already.

          1. Because expanding access to health care is not the same thing as wiretapping and torture?

            1. Because expanding access to health care

              Begging the question.

              If you wanted to expand access no one would be against it.

              But that’s not what is being done, is it?

              You’re amplifying all the factors that limited supply, caused overutilization, and increased cost in the first place.

              Everything being proposed will make less health care available, and will thus kill many thousands of people.

              Replicating the cancer survival rates in all the nations you so envy will mean real dead americans

              What do you think those rates mean. Survival rates Tony.

              As awful as waterboarding is it never killed anyone, much less innocent people.

              Why do you hate the idea of making more health care available?

        2. That’s what’s being proposed that people are protesting. You asserted they were protesting something that didn’t exist. The bills exist. The effects will be real. Why should they wait till it’s too late?

  23. [A]dvocates of greater government involvement in health care, including some federal officials, have unleashed a vicious campaign against a sizable political minority majority.

    Check the current polling, gentlemen.

  24. Ironically, calls for “deportation” will, in fact, reach an all time high, save for when they’re most needed, during “comprehensive immigration reform,” wherein calls for deportation will be roundly condemned as “inhumane.” It truly boggles the mind.

  25. Mr. Doherty.

    You point out the obvious: many so called “liberals” are completely illberal in temperament and inclination. Whereas the Enlightenment produced attempts to base human relations on individual freedom, reason and tolerance, only the US Consitution managed to approximate that noble ideal in reality. In Europe the liberal movement first went off its rails, producing the bloodbath of the French revolution, then various versions of utopian socialism, Marxism, fascism and communism. These all share in common a collectivist desire to yield more power to the state at the expense of the individual. They all seek to achieve nominally liberal ends by illiberal means, and revert to totalitarianism or the brute violence of a police state whenever threathened.

    The modern “progressive” movement is another variation of confused, intolerant liberalism run amuck. Its use of these names is part of its grand deception. Its reliance upon the centralized power of the state to achieve its ends are more typical of autocratic or monarchial governments of the distant past.
    “Progressives” are attempting to bring this form of omnipotent government back, and therefore deserve the name of “regressives.”

    We had to fight a revolution against monarchial government to establish a limited government based on freedom. We may have to do so again.

    1. As a liberal I assure you that I do not endorse the utopian fasciosocialist-communist form of government. But you have to take me at my word.

      1. I am glad to hear that. Once we can dispense with the attitude that all the truth, justice and moral right is on our side, while the other guys must be greedy, corrupt racists, (as Harry Reid said recently and Doherty’s article points out other examples), then maybe we could get on with solving the real problems we face as a nation.

      2. But your party does that, Tony. Guilt by association.

      3. What expansion of government or new tax or new spending would you be against Tony?

        1. I’ve had to clean that man’s colon on more than one occasion. Apparently, he wipes his anus with copies of the Congressional Record, and he insists on watching Rachel Maddow in my waiting room AND in the exam room.

          Quite frankly, between that and all the government cheese the man eats, it’s a wonder his lower intestines haven’t exploded yet.

  26. Great article. I think that your last point is off the mark though. It is not that government doesn’t realize the impact they have on the markets in which they intervene; it is that the incentives to “nudge” them to act rationally on that knowledge are absent. Reason is one source of knowledge and inspiration for restoring the Constitutional limits on government that will restore those incentives.

  27. It is not that government doesn’t realize the impact they have on the markets in which they intervene

    Yeah after two millennia (in the west, longer in the east) this idea of ‘unintended consequences’ of market intervention is getting stretched a bit thin.

  28. Hey, if the conservatives passed a health care reform bill during the decade rhey controlled Congress, the problem would have been solved.

    Instead conservatives made it worse with SCHIP, Medicare Drug Benefit, paying insurers an extra 12% over Medicare costs to offer Medicare Advantage, and a bunch of other stuff.

    In the three decades since the Reagan revolution made the US conservative, health care as a share of GDP has risen from 8% to over 16% of GDP, while France, Germany, Israel, Britain, Japan have only gone from 6-7% to 8-9% while delivering better care overall than the US. At few times in the past three decades have the conservatives not been in a position to block legislation.

  29. It’s neo-fascism – ruling the masses instead of leading them. We want leaders, not rulers.

  30. “Anyone who objects or obstructs is dangerous and deserves to be ignored, shouted down, marginalized, even deported.”

    I don’t criticize Progressives for talking this way, because I view them exactly the way they view me, and for similar reasons. Our values are 180 degrees in opposition and, since they’re dedicated to my enslavement, in the long run one can’t live them so long as they dominate the media, academia, and government, i.e. all the levers of influence and power in the country. In the end, unless they give up — which is beyond unlikely — it must come to civil war, unless they are neutralized and marginalized. That’s possible, but not if we view them as just reasonable folk with a different outlook, as the author seems to suggest.

    However, if this: “Libertarians who expect American politics to produce pure libertarian policies (or even to stay within the limits of the U.S. Constitution) are as delusional as the progressives who thought the public option (or even a single-payer system) was inevitable.” is true (I don’t believe it is), then the time for that civil war has already arrived.

    Fortunately, the author’s implication of this passage “Something approaching true market competition?which, in other areas, has never produced a field as increasingly expensive and confusing as the current health care industry?will not be tried.” to the contrary notwithstanding, nothing is inevitable in human affairs. No one can say when, or even how, the tide will turn toward freedom. We may be the last, lonely voices crying in the wilderness, or the vanguard of a second Revolution. It’s too early to tell. One thing is certain, though, we’ll never approach the project with zest and confidence by relying on cynics like Mr. Doherty to guide us.

  31. The Democratic party has lost all honor and decency. November, 2010 cannot get here fast enough.

  32. The largest democracy in the world and 62% of the people are eagerly disregarded by their leaders. I hope we have time. I am 68 and would like to believe I left the country free er than I entered it. As I review what I let happen during my lifetime I shiver in shame. Schools, Energy, Freedoms all shanghaied by communist organizers.

  33. This is one of the best articles I have seen all year.

  34. The plans to solve HC digust me. Democrats and Progressives villify even their own congress members for thinking there is a better way to solve the HC dilemma. Instead we get a bill that may be less govt then orginially but is still going to rely on government to control costs, something it cannot do. No matter how many subsidies, taxes or cuts and government programs HC will not go down. Free market solutions are the best way to solve the problem. To bad Congres is not interested in those things, only things that increase their power and control in our lives.

  35. We are not a democracy, we are a representative republic! Why can’t everyone get that right! Our founders did not believe in democracy because they feared mob-rule. That is what has happened in California,

    We need to realize that we have a complex society and that both political extremes need to start fighting the real common enemy; the multinational corporations! They are the ones really responsible for all the mess we are in right now and those in power are beholding to them and so these corporations are in control!

    We need to join together and stop fighting each other and fight the real enemy!

  36. Hannah Arendt realized that Totalitarians love to expand bureaucracy and these Democrats will do just that. ObamaCare and Cap and Trade will give them total control over every aspect of our lives. The Democrats are not about freedom and Democracy but about becoming the only Party in America and censoring those who disagree with them.

  37. To anyone on the left suggesting anyone of any party not consenting to be one of their lemmings be deported or jailed or what have you for what’s in my head– come on and try it. Oh, waitaminnit, I forgot. You don’t do things yourself, you hire them done. You hire violence done, and then imagine you get to decry it and what sometimes comes along with it, too. You also forget who has most of the guns.

    There has been an attitude among we Democrats that we’re so delightfully disorganized that nothing any of us says can be held against anyone else in the party, because it’s a true “big tent” party with people of all views. But I think no Democrat gets to neglect to publicly condemn raving extremists like the would-be deporters– I assume they’re Democrats– without having that legitimately held against them. It’s just too insanely beyond the pale.

  38. Exactly spot on. There’s been little debate on health care between the various ideological camps. From the beginning it’s been “my way or the highway because we won the election”.

    In my way of thinking about these things, democracy is a consensus-reaching process attempting to ensure that the laws reflect agreements freely concluded between voters, politicians and special interests on an ongoing basis. The problem for the Democrats’ progressive agenda is that the past two elections did not signify voter consensus with its implementation. Instead, the voters were rejecting the Democrats’ political opponents.

    Now the voters seem to be turning against the Democrats in response to their progressive agenda with which they do not agree. Yet they do not seem to like the conservative or libertarian agendas, either. What should result is a muddle in the middle whereby laws are made that reflect no broad consensus and do nothing to fix problems while wasting borrowed trillions in the flaccid attempt, i.e. what we’ve had since George Bush the Elder. Where this will ultimately lead I dare not name.

  39. does this innovation mean higher quality of service or simply more difficult process full of new bureaucratic difficulties?

  40. Progressivism is a political attitude favoring or advocating changes or reform. Progressivism is often viewed in opposition to conservative or reactionary ideologies. The Progressive Movement began in cities with settlement workers and reformers who were interested in helping those facing harsh conditions at home and at work. The reformers spoke out about the need for laws regulating tenement housing and child labor. They also called for better working condition for women.
    Regards : Buy Cisco

  41. My only point is that if you take the Bible straight, as I’m sure many of Reasons readers do, you will see a lot of the Old Testament stuff as absolutely insane. Even some cursory knowledge of Hebrew and doing some mathematics and logic will tell you that you really won’t get the full deal by just doing regular skill english reading for those books. In other words, there’s more to the books of the Bible than most will ever grasp. I’m not concerned that Mr. Crumb will go to hell or anything crazy like that! It’s just that he, like many types of religionists, seems to take it literally, take it straight…the Bible’s books were not written by straight laced divinity students in 3 piece suits who white wash religious beliefs as if God made them with clothes on…the Bible’s books were written by people with very different mindsets

  42. Like your writing! Still you can do some things to improve it.

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