On its first full day in office, the new Trump administration was greeted with the "Million Woman March," said to have been attended by far more than a million people if you include all of its multiple venues. But what were they all marching for? Clearly, they were against everything Trump; but beyond that, If there was an explicit positive policy agenda, they weren't saying much about it. What I can find are quotes of what some of the speakers said, most of which sound like rather vacuous of platitudes. For example, there's this from Madonna:
“The revolution starts here,” she told the crowd as thousands of marchers began heading toward the White House. “The fight for the right to be free, to be who we are, to be equal. Let’s march together through this darkness.”
Well, all right then! Perhaps it would have been more straightforward if they had just hired Professor Flagstaff (Grouch Marx) from the movie Horsefeathers as their spokesperson to comment on the incoming Trump administration:
I don't know what they have to say/ It makes no difference anyway/ Whatever it is, I'm against it!
To figure out what was actually being promoted here, we'll have to look elsewhere. Most if not all of the marchers either characterize themselves as "progressives," or would at least agree that by joining this march they were allying themselves with the progressive movement. Certainly, the list of organizations calling themselves "partners" of the march is a who's who of the progressive establishment. The problem for the progressive movement, in my view, is that it has steered itself into multiple dead ends, yet offers an agenda of proposals consisting of nothing but more of the same. In large part, that's why we got Trump.
So, to all you progressives and fellow travelers who see before you years of implacable opposition to anything and everything Trump, I would suggest that you think about some of the more important of those dead ends into which progressivism has steered itself. Do these things really constitute the alternative agenda that you support?
Education. Somehow, it has become a key feature of the progressive movement to oppose educational choice for poor and low-income children and their families. Actually, it's not "somehow" -- we all know the reason why. It's because the teachers' unions have immense resources by reason of dues checkoffs from their members who teach in government schools, and that money is the number one source of funds for supporting the progressive movement. And thus we found last week ultra-progressive Senator Elizabeth Warren at a confirmation hearing doing her best to somehow head off the nomination of school choice advocate Betsy DeVos for Education Secretary.
Is there anyone in politics more sanctimonious than Senator Warren? Sanctimony is the demeanor that you put on when you claim to occupy the moral high ground; but when you don't occupy the moral high ground, sanctimony just looks ridiculous. Here are some statistics on New York City charter and public schools reported in the Daily News last August:
Test scores released by the state Friday show 94% of Success Academy students passed the 2016 math exam and 82% passed the reading exam. . . . By comparison, 38% of students in traditional public schools met state reading standards this year, up from 30.4% in 2015. And 36.4% of city kids passed math tests in 2016, up from 35.2% in 2015.
Isn't anybody in the progressive movement embarrassed by the pathetic performance of the "traditional" schools in our cities? Of course, here in New York Success Academies is constantly blocked from expanding because of opposition from the teachers' union and the de Blasio administration. And there among the sponsors of the Million Woman March we find, for example, the American Federation of Teachers (teachers union for, among other places, New York City), and the Alliance for Quality Education (an AFT-backed front group). Marchers: Did you realize that you were allying yourselves with these despicable people?
Poverty. The progressive answer to poverty is government-funded "anti-poverty" programs. At the beginning of the War on Poverty in 1965, there were no "anti-poverty" programs, and there were about 28 million people said to be in "poverty" in the United States by the government's official measure. Today, governments at all levels spend about $1 trillion per year on "anti-poverty" programs, and there are about 43 million people said to be in "poverty" by the same government official measure. OK, progressives, after more than 50 years of abject failure, it is time to take some ownership of this.
Is there actually anybody today who could still possibly believe that a government "anti-poverty" program, no matter how expensive, is ever going to raise a single person out of poverty? But the progressive movement continues blindly to promote aggressive expansion of the same failed programs. At this post back in 2013 I reported on the aggressive efforts of the Obama administration to promote the expansion of the food stamp program, which resulted in the number of recipients exploding from about 28 million to 48 million during a time of supposed economic recovery. Of course, nobody was removed from poverty. Similar federal and state efforts, many as part of Obamacare implementation, vastly expanded participation in Medicaid. After years of rapid expansion of these means-tested programs, people were then supposedly surprised to discover that the reported income and assets of the lowest income people had been driven down. Of course the poor had become poorer -- they had to, to qualify for the progressive programs!
Crime control. According to FBI statistics here, the average murder rate in the United States as of 2015 was just under 5 per 100,000. But a not-insubstantial group of big cities has a murder rate that is a large multiple of the national rate. The leader is St. Louis, where the murder rate is near 60 per 100,000, some 12 times the national norm. In Detroit, the rate is 44; in Baltimore, 50; in New Orleans, 42; in Chicago, about 30. Other cities with drastically high murder rates include Cleveland, Oakland, Memphis, Milwaukee, and Newark. Do you notice anything that these cities have in common? They have all had mayors from the Democratic Party stretching back as far as human memory can stretch.
But what about New York, you ask? Its murder rate is only about 4 per 100,000 -- actually below the national norm. Yes, but when Democratic Mayor Dinkins left office at the end of 1993, the murder rate was close to 25 per 100,000. We then had 20 years of Republican mayors (Giuliani and Bloomberg), during which the rate declined from 25 to 4, where it remains today. The difference represents something like 40,000 people just in New York, most of them black, who are alive today, but would not have been under the prior regime.
I frankly do not know what is the "secret sauce" of the Republican mayors and their police commissioners that has brought the murder rate down so drastically in New York. I do know that the carnage in the high-murder cities is completely unacceptable. And I do not understand how "progressives" can be willing to associate themselves with the people who continue to run these cities.
Climate change. Look again at that list of "partners" of the Women's March, and you will find most if not all of the major environmentalist promoters of climate alarmism: Greenpeace, Sierra Club, 350.org, etc., etc. Whatever you might think of the hypothesis that human emissions of greenhouse gases might cause catastrophic global warming, there can be no disputing that the solution proposed by these environmental groups is to increase the price and decrease the availability of energy in a way that is guaranteed to keep the poor poor. I first pointed out the perverse nature of the concept of "climate injustice" in an article back in 2013 titled "The Looking Glass World Of Climate Injustice." Whether it is a highly-regressive carbon tax or intermittent wind and solar energy sources that will increase the cost of electricity by five or more times, everything proposed by progressives to ameliorate their perceived climate crisis will be a disaster for poor and low income people.
So, marchers, these are the people and policies with which you have just associated yourselves. Are you sure that you don't want to think about this a little? Could a Trump administration really be worse?