2016 Democratic Convention

Democratic Apocalypticism, Like Its GOP Version, Is Bullshit

America is already great, say #demsinphilly, except for all the stagnation, pollution, racism, sexism, etc.

|

Nick Gillespie, Reason

You can be excused for being a bit confused after the first full day of speechifying at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia.

Especially after hearing notables such as Michelle Obama, Cory Booker, Elizabeth Warren, and Bernie Sanders speak, you have to wonder: Is contemporary America "already great," so screw you, Donald Trump!?!? Speaker after speaker extolled the progress we have made over our often-awful past. "I wake up every morning in a house that was built by slaves," said the First Lady, testifying to huge, sweeping changes in everyday life.

Or will our children have to become Uber drivers, driving robots to their fracking gigs in an otherwise jobless future? For every invocation of America as a country so great and wonderful and sweet-smelling that it could be a deodorant flavor (not that we need another one, right, Bernie!), there were two or invocations of just how nasty, brutish, solitary, and short things have become over the last few years. (Forget for the moment that a Democrat has been in the White House and the Democrats even held Congress for a while this century.)

As the warm-up act for Sanders, Elizabeth Warren barely had time to thank her introducer—Joe Kennedy III—and mock Donald Trump "as a man who inherited a fortune" before depicting the horrors of contemporary America:

Housing, health care, child care—costs are out of sight. Young people are getting crushed by student loans. Working people are in debt. Seniors can't stretch a Social Security check to cover the basics.

Again and again yesterday, we were told that the next generation may be the first in American history to have a lower standard of living than its parent's—an anxiety that was also voiced at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland and every election I can remember since the early 1970s. Only the rich get rich in America, and the poor get…obesity and all manner of social dysfunction. We're spending more and more on all sorts of programs to help the poor, the definition of which has grown many times over the past 15 years, under Republican and Democratic presidents. Indeed, last night we were told that a truly fair America would offer free state college tuition to kids in families that made up to $125,000. That's more than twice the median household income.

America has always been an anxious place, especially about money, which might explain some of its dynamism. Individuals, families, and corporate behemoths rise and fall with regularity. Against the backdrop of the politicial conventions, it was announced that Yahoo, a company founded in 1994 and valued at $125 billion in 2000, was being sold to Verizon for $4.8 billion. "Three generations from shirtsleeves to shirtsleeves," runs the old saying. Yeah, if you're lucky. Every new dollar you get is one more you can lose.

To the economic fears, Sanders added existential-global threats. If Hillary Clinton is not the next president of the United States, he averred, "there will be more drought, more floods, more acidification of the oceans, more rising sea levels." If Donald Trump becomes president, the very seas will boil! Americans will be at each other's throats, and the 1 percent will further migrate into whatever secret compounds they've been building the past decade with money stolen from the good working man. Among the many reasons he suggested to vote for Hillary Clinton was that she alone could "end the movement toward oligarchy in this country."

If these particular themes aren't your cup of tea, you can simply call up speeches from last week's RNC, where you'll find a different slate of existential threats coming to America. The Republican nominee Donald Trump spoke for 75 minutes and for most of his speech, he outlined a laundry list of every conceivable fear he could conjure. Radical Islam, immigration (legal, illegal, Mexican, Muslim, whatevs), stagnant wages, rising violence in the streets, and really terrible trade deals were among the litany. It was dark, yes, and authoritarian in that Trump made the pitch that he alone could fix it all. Captain Ahab for president! At the DNC, things were just as authoritarian but perhaps authoritarian by committee rather than individual. Trump is prone to arrogating power to himself, while the Democrats seem more interested in creating new agencies and authorities (such as Warren's own pet project, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau).

Surely it matters that both the Republicans and Democrats agree on at least three out of the top five on Trump's list. Hillary Clinton also believes crime is getting out of hand, that NAFTA and the Trans-Pacific Partnership must be stopped, and that wages must be raised. Based on her record, she likely believes that Islamic terrorism is a big deal, too, and she not long ago held a very different view about immigrants than her current position. And surely it matters that both Republicans and Democrats refuse to outline exactly how they will grow the economy. Instead, they each talk about the clawbacks they will pursue: against the Chinese and the immigrants, in Trump's case and against the 1 percent and the banksters in Clinton's.

One of the reasons why presidential elections (and especially convention seasons) are so draining and tiring is that they are always waged in apocalyptic terms. For at least the past four elections, each contest has been called the most important one in my lifetime. That can't possibly be true. In each one, we were told that the water taps would stop working, the sun would never again rise, and that David Crosby, Stephen Baldwin, or somebody even less consequential would leave the country depending on the outcome. Sadly, that last part also never came true.

Justin Monticello, Reason

So it is once again. Donald Trump is such a terrifying ogre that even many Republicans have said they will never vote for him. Some have even flipped for Hillary Clinton. The mania incited by Clinton is not small-ball, either. One of the reasons why I'm particularly partial this time around to the Libertarian ticket of former GOP Govs. Gary Johnson and William Weld is that they refuse to be apocalyptic.

Part of the reason is that they can't afford to be. They just aren't that much of a threat yet to the established order, so saying the world will end if they don't win carries no bite. But more important, Johnson has the temerity to say what other politicians refuse to: That we live in many or even most ways a world of wonders in which progress continues. He proudly holds up his smartphone and points to technological innovation as one reason for optimism. Where Trump ignores the sharing economy and Clinton wants to strangle it, he wants to "Uber everything."

As Johnson told Reason in a recent interview (go here for video and text):

Has life in America ever been better than it's been today? No, it hasn't! We get along better, kids are smarter than ever, the number one law enforcement tool is (pulls out iPhone) this guy right here when we're witnessing that all the time. When you think about the future and you think about a model of entrepreneurism where the middle man can be eliminated and you, as a provider of goods and services, can make more money, and people that are buying those services pay less. That's an excit– Airbnb! [My fiance] Kate and I, we have a home in Santé Fe. I think we can rent that darn thing out part time for– make an extra $40,000 a year. Well, the city of Santé Fe bans Airbnb. Come on! If that was money in our pockets, we'd be spending that all over Santé Fe. Well, they are protecting the hotel industry, and I just think there is a closed mindedness with Democrats and Republicans. You know, protect the status quo when–

The future is wide open if we'll just get a libertarian bent on the whole thing.

That's a message that is not only largely accurate but especially comforting in an election season that has more Sturm und Drang than a work by Goethe. Many things regarding government need changing, yes, especially debt and spending issues, and Americans overwhelmingly (around 70 percent!) think the country is headed in the wrong direction. But there's no need to panic. In a world with Google maps, after all, we can figure out how to get back on course without freaking out. If only electoral politics was subject to such calm rerouting.

NEXT: Why Trump Will Wreck the Constitution Worse Than Even Hillary

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Housing, health care, child care?costs are out of sight. Young people are getting crushed by student loans. Working people are in debt. Seniors can’t stretch a Social Security check to cover the basics.

    Again and again yesterday, we were told that the next generation may be the first in American history to have a lower standard of living than its parent’s

    Who’s been in the White House for the past 8 years? Do they think they are still running against W?

    1. Everything’s still Dubya’s fault to Team Blue. Should Hillary take office next January 20, I’m not sure who they’ll blame. Maybe Trump?

      1. Still Dubya.

        1. Indeed.

          Bush’s culpability has a longer half life than nuclear waste.

          1. Considering they Still blame Reagan for everything else yes they will blame all republicans except for Lincoln.

            1. until I looked at the bank draft ov $9106 , I have faith that my neighbour was like they say trully bringing home money in their spare time from their computer. . there aunt had bean doing this for less than 10 months and recently cleared the debts on their appartment and bought a great new Lancia . Learn More Clik This Link inYour Browser.

              ???????? http://bit.ly/2abXTUQ

      2. Someone mentioned Reagan and his awful tax cuts a couple days ago.
        Yes, if the government had seized a few percent more of the richy-rich’s ilgotten gains, over the last 30 years, you wouldn’t be in debt for you english lit degree.

      3. They blamed Hoover for quite a while and only a heroic WWII leader could eventually break that barrier.

      4. You’ve forgotten the Koch Bros.

    2. If it weren’t for those meddling Republicans and their obstructionism, we’d be living in Utopia by now.

      Translation: When things go wrong, it’s always the other team’s fault.

  2. “I wake up every morning in a house that was built by slaves,” said the First Lady, testifying to huge, sweeping changes in everyday life.

    Contractors have it harder than you know.

    Her mother lives in the most recent addition, which was built in the 70’s. 1970’s. And the entire house was rebuilt during the Truman administration.

    The pain of construction work in the 50’s and 70’s haunts her to this day.

    1. They’re just jealous they don’t get a pyramid.

      1. Yet. What do you think the Obama memorial on the Mall will look like in 30 years?

    2. Never let the facts get in the way of a good narrative.

  3. “Again and again yesterday, we were told that the next generation may be the first in American history to have a lower standard of living than its parent’s…”

    An entirely appropriate use of apostrophe to indicate possessive of standard of living. Also generation as a singular, correct as well, so fuck off, everything-is-plural Brits!

  4. “deodorant flavor”

    Is The Jacket pregnant and deodorant is one of its odd cravings?

    1. Look, there are starving kids in this country, yet we have 23 kinds of deodorant. The logical next step is to feed 22 kinds of deodorant to children, and flavor matters in determining which ones.

      1. I’m trying to work out what sort of children Gillespie and The Jacket might have together. Do they come out fully-jacketed, or only half-jacketed? Clip, mag, or belt-fed? Will there be litters? Are we going to have to enact common-sense Gillespie control?

        1. Human-skin Jackets with Fonzie-hair collars.

          1. He can gift one of his progeny to Soave, who will be ecstatic at the opportunity to style the collar hair as well.

        2. As I understand it, the Jacket attaches itself to a human host and does not reproduce. When the host eventually dies, it finds a new host. If a new host is not readily available, it goes dormant until an unsuspecting victim walks by.

          1. Winner!

  5. Again and again yesterday, we were told that the next generation may be the first in American history to have a lower standard of living than its parent’s

    I thought that was my generation. I grew up with an in-ground pool. My daughter runs through a sprinkler hastily thrown out on the grass. WHO’S GOT IT WORSE, GILLESPIE?! WHO?!!

    1. You do, because your daughter can move out when she’s 18, but you’re stuck with you forever?

      Or am I projecting again?

  6. “there will be more drought, more floods, more acidification of the oceans, more rising sea levels.”

    This is so fucking stupid. So if these things get worse during Hillary’s four years, will it be her fault?

    1. I thought the sea level rise stopped in 2008?

      All of that is total bullshit. Anyone with half a brain and half an understanding of plate tectonics, volcanism, and the natural cycle of ice ages understands that the fear mongering over global warming by people with political agendas is just that.

      1. It could get warmer-it will be climate change. It could get colder-it will be climate change. I could take a crap in my pants-it will be climate change.

      2. There are some who are truly deranged by the thought of human-created climate change. I remember hearing some idiot call into a show about the Indian Ocean Tsunami, or maybe it was the 2011 Japanese Earthquake asking the scientist they had on (this was on NPR of course) if there was any chance that global warming was creating such huge storms that they could affect plate tectonics and cause huge earthquakes. You could tell the scientist was trying really hard not to laugh.

        Then, you have this gem:
        http://www.slate.com/articles/…..ecies.html

      3. You seem to be under the mistaken impression that the political clamor about climate change has anything to do with actual concern over the climate, rather than it being a handy rolled up newspaper with which the lefties smack the collective noses of their prospective voters to ensure obedience.

  7. Democrats seem more interested in creating new agencies and authorities

    Presidents have term limits. Unaccountable bureaucratic quasi-legislative organizations become part of the edifice, and an edifice is very hard to erode once it’s established.

    1. This.

      Progressivism is rule by unaccountable apparatchiks. The President would be irrelevant if not for the power to appoint Supreme Courts Justices and the head apparatchiks.

      Congress is representative government theater. The IRS told them to go fuck themselves, and nothing else happened.

  8. I do certainly wish someone would have the guts to ask Clinton or Warren or whoever the glaringly obvious questions raised by their “everything is terrible for working people” lines.

    “We gave your party control of the House for 2 years, Senate for 6 years, and presidency for 8 years. If you know how to fix this, why didn’t you? Why is it an even bigger problem now?”
    (answer: obstructionism BOOSH blah blah blah)

    Follow-up: “If occasionally having to work with Republicans is a complete blockade to your solutions, why would electing you now when you’ll definitely have to work with Republicans solve a damn thing?”

    1. Follow up: “Mrs Clinton, you declared that the enemy you are most proud of fighting is Congressional Republicans. How do you hope to pass anything meaningful if elected when you have declared your political opponents to be a greater enemy than communists, totalitarian regimes, and terrorist groups?”

    2. “If you are that concerned for working people, why does your party want to actively destroy all the sectors that working people are currently employed in?”

      1. Democrats don’t actually want people to work-they want them to be free to get free liberal arts education, healthcare, childcare, etc., so they can hang out at the park all day and write poetry.

  9. Someone needs to start counting all the Trump references in articles this week. #Jacketforher

  10. Oh, and the sky is falling, what with the existential threat of unchecked human caused global warming threatening to hold off the next ice age and make average surface temperatures slightly more pleasant.

  11. Krugabe’s column (which I skimmed, the other day) was a big pushback against Trump’s “the end is nigh” bullshit. I didn’t notice a part where he suggested Hillary STFU about teh epidemic of gun violence.

  12. “Kate and I, we have a home in Sant? Fe. I think we can rent that darn thing out part time for? make an extra $40,000 a year. Well, the city of Sant? Fe bans Airbnb. Come on! If that was money in our pockets, we’d be spending that all over Sant? Fe.”

    Did I miss something? Did New Mexico officially change the spelling of their capital? I’ve always seen it as Santa Fe.

    1. Quick! Better alert the Sant? Fe Tourism Board that they need to rename their website!

      1. More like Thomas Owned, right?

  13. Regarding economic insecurities, it’s a fact that median household income hasn’t recovered to the levels of the late 1990s. It’s not just some “feeling” that people aren’t as well-off as previous generations.

    Regarding gun violence, it’s not inconsistent to want to reduce mass shootings while acknowledging that overall violent crime is down. Also, while it’s true that the number of guns in America has increased, the incidence of gun ownership is way down from the peak days of the 1980s. It’s just that fewer people own more guns.

    1. And that includes total compensation and corrects for household size. Right? Right?

    2. to want to reduce mass shootings

      That’s the limit of your desires? To merely reduce them?

  14. Facebook gives you a great opportunity to earn 98652$ at your home.If you are some intelligent you makemany more Dollars.I am also earning many more, my relatives wondered to see how i settle my Life in few days thank GOD to you for this…You can also make cash i never tell alie you should check this I am sure you shocked to see this amazing offer…I’m Loving it!!!!
    ????????> http://www.factoryofincome.com

  15. Facebook gives you a great opportunity to earn 98652$ at your home.If you are some intelligent you makemany more Dollars.I am also earning many more, my relatives wondered to see how i settle my Life in few days thank GOD to you for this…You can also make cash i never tell alie you should check this I am sure you shocked to see this amazing offer…I’m Loving it!!!!
    ????????> http://www.factoryofincome.com

  16. “The people get the government they deserve,” seems to hold true. Most people I talk to are found in one of these camps : 1) want free sh!t 2) want to be told what to do 3) want to say they are in favor of ‘doing something 4) think there needs to be someone to tell others what to do (for their own sake). I’m just naming a few of the statist views, that wasn’t a full list I know.
    Sadly it seems to me people who actually want be as accountable as possible for their own lives are really a small part of our population.

  17. Nick, if Donald Trump wins, David Crosby and Stephen Baldwin will move in with you. Hope you like sing-alongs!

  18. “I wake up every morning in a house that was built by slaves.”
    I don’t. We’re not all that fortunate.

    1. I wake up every morning in a house that was built by Mexicans. Make of that what you will.

  19. With this article, the score on Dem convention articles that slam Trump v ones that don’t is 4 – 2.

    My hopes last week that the wall of anti-Trump articles during Rep week would be matched with a wall of anti-Hillary articles during Dem week are fading fast.

    1. Even when they post anti-Hillary articles, the usual suspects whine and shriek.

      BTW: Look at the number of comments on the anti-Trump articles. Those articles get far more comments than the anti-Hillary ones. Obviously the H&R staff know their audience.

      1. Even when they post anti-Hillary articles, the usual suspects whine and shriek.

        I haven’t checked, but I don’t recall 2/3 of the anti-Trump articles slamming Hillary as well.

        I’m no Trumpster, but I do have a sincere desire that Reason not become just another fungible member of the DemOp Media. We’ve got plenty of those already, but Reason seems on course to join their ranks.

  20. Housing, health care, child care?costs are out of sight.

    Wait a minute. There are many government programs that have been enacted to solve these problems. I mean there are scores of them, each with massive bureaucracies filled hard working, very well-meaning people. Obviously this statement can’t be true.

    Young people are getting crushed by student loans.

    We need to find the people forcing them to take these loans and stop them now!

    Working people are in debt. Seniors can’t stretch a Social Security check to cover the basics.

    When interest rates are kept artificially low the incentive is to borrow and not save. Even the government is following this incentive (in spades). And it’s really hard to believe that the Social Security system isn’t working. Surely this must be a mistake.

    1. Young people are getting crushed by student loans.

      We need to find the people forcing them to take these loans and stop them now!

      ——–

      That only applies to private entities being predatory with their “easy credit”. When it’s the government handing out the money, suddenly the “pusher” isn’t a problem. One of the long list of behaviors when done by individuals or private concerns is criminal while the same behavior is engaged in by government and it’s sound public policy.

  21. Many things regarding government need changing, yes, especially debt and spending issues

    Love how there’s a toss in at the end about “spending and debt”, a sop to those who would use the comment section (much as I have done), but is almost throw away in its placement and the almost shrug of the shoulders level of importance.

    The saturation of debt, the fiscal and monetary policies, and the manipulation of the interest rate are HUGE issues. The elephant in the room issues. The “destroy the fabric of our society” level of issues.

    1. cont

      David M. Walker, former Comptroller General of the United States (1998-2008) pleaded with the citizenry to get its act together. He criss-crossed the US for two years giving speeches trying to get people to wake up. And on Reason? I did a search on the website and there were about TWO references to the man – one that he wrote a paper that was available through the Reason Foundation, and a reference to him that he acknowledged that there was was no GAO oversight of the NSA as of 2008. THAT’S IT. THAT’S the level of concern the brain trust here at Reason has given to the biggest, most far reaching issue that we have.

      It’s easy to be optimistic if you bury your head in the sand and keep ignorant of basic economics. When people SOON find out they are half as wealthy (their own and unfunded entitlements) there’s going to be a “reaction”. It’s not an afterthought at the end of an article, dismissive in its placement. The message should be “why are both parties fear mongering while NEITHER discuss the impending economic/monetary melt down that needs to be addressed? Apparently society killing issues don’t create much of a ripple in the libertarian end of the pool either.

  22. Well, Nicky, I was with you on Johnson/Weld until I read your ReasonTV interview with them yesterday. At about the 10 min mark, Supreme Court appointments are mentioned and Johnson indicates we need a justice that has an originalist view of the Constitution. I am fine with his approach so far. Next he says that he will defer to Weld on this issue. Again, fine as far as it goes.

    Then Weld says that anti-gunner Stephen Breyer is a great justice! And that Obama nominee–the anti-gunner Garland–is a superb choice! Do these fucking MORONs understand that the 2nd Amendment is fundamental to all the other liberties we used to enjoy? Major fuck up so far as I am concerned.

    Add this to Johnson’s gaff right after the Libertarian convention when he told a reporter that he thought the Government should force private businesses to trade with people with whom they don’t want to trade–or associate with as it used to be called. Freedom of association had a long history in this country. It is fundamental to the idea of voluntary activities which is also fundamental to the idea of libertarianism, isn’t it?

    So, I took my Johnson yard sign down and removed the Johnson bumper sticker from my car.

    I would like to hear Johnson/Weld speak directly to the 2nd Amendment. In retrospect, when Johnson used the term originalist, it sounded somewhat insincere–as if he were just checking the block. I would really appreciate it if you would include a request for clarification in your next interview.

  23. Democratic Apocalypticism, Like Its GOP Version

    Interesting that we never have to play “but what about Republicans?” on articles that criticize Democrats. They always start with a ritual invocation of the evils the Repubs.

  24. I was only half listening to Fauxchahontas, but it sounded like she is saying we have a lot of problems after 7.5 years of Obama as President. It kinda made Obama sound bad, didn’t it? Like he hasn’t accomplished much. Did the media report about her slamming his record?

  25. Hudson . true that Chad `s blurb is flabbergasting… last week I got a gorgeous Alfa Romeo after having made $5229 this last 5 weeks and-over, $10k this past-munth . it’s actualy my favourite work I have ever had . I started this three months/ago and immediately started bringin home at least $80, per-hour . pop over to this website .

    ????????? http://www.maxincome20.com

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.