It is flat out false to say that both major parties have equally crazy extremists. But liberals do make mistakes.
Power, Craziness, And Ideology
It terms of both power and raw craziness, the Tea Party has no counterpart on the left: they are the dominant bloc in the GOP and they honestly believe climate change is a conspiracy, that the President is literally not an American, and that failing to pay our debts might be a good thing.
A third difference between the extreme left and the extreme right is the pedigree of the crazy positions put forward. Wacked-out proposals emanating from both sides start with empirically false beliefs, but Tea Party Republicans hold these beliefs as a matter of bedrock political ideology. How do you have an intelligent conversation about SNAP benefits with a lunatic like Paul Ryan who believes--in the same way that a Christian believes in the resurrection of Christ--that giving starving people enough food to survive removes their incentive to work and acts as "a hammock, which lulls able-bodied people into lives of complacency and dependency"?
On The Far Left: Crazies Talking Only To Themselves
No left-wing analogue to the Tea Party exists. Most importantly, the ideological extreme of the Democratic party is infinitesimally small and utterly powerless. For example, an extreme liberal would want to ban privately held firearms, but you would be hard pressed to find even a precinct captain in Oakland (as liberal an official as exists anywhere in the party) who would take a shotgun away from a deer hunter. In Democratic Party politics, the so-called "extremists" are actually perfectly reasonable people who want hunters to pass a background check and keep their guns locked up. Sure, you can trot out lunatics from PETA, but they aren't going to have positions of influence in the party.
If High Broderism were true, if it were actually the case that government malfunction is equally the fault of extreme elements in both parties, then Democratic House Members would vote in favor of equal human rights for great apes out of fear of facing a primary challenge from the left.
Instead, we live in a world where "journalists" put forward "objective" reports that "balance" the views of radical Reaganists with qualified centerism like "government can't solve all our problems, but maybe it has a role to play in this area..."
Democratic Wrongness Contrasted With GOP Wrongness: Mistakes Versus False Faith
As Demonstrated By Views On The Morality Of Corporate Actions
All this is not to say that Democrats never get things wrong. Take the general example of corporate behavior and the morality of corporate decisions. Logically, there are three possible views:
- Corporations are morally good and generally or always act in a morally good way,
- Corporations are morally bad and generally or always act in a morally bad way, or
- Corporations are amoral and will be as good or evil as the rules society creates to guide their actions.
As a matter of both rational and empirical examination, there is an objective fact of the matter: public corporations are amoral. Guided by the profit motive, corporations will pursue both good and evil ends through both good and evil means. The economic growth that is an essential feature of democratic capitalism requires that corporations have enough freedom to act in a way that generates profits, while also being sufficiently regulated in order to prevent the worst evils and to punish lesser harms after the fact.
Republicans Are Ideologically Committed To Being Wrong About Corporations
How do the two major parties view this question? The Republican Party has successfully purged all elements who don't take the Reaganist view that an action is moral if it takes place in a "free market". By definition all corporate actions are moral ones because they are dictated by the market. This leads to endless varieties of the following non sequitur:
Citizen: Is it moral to treat people that way?
Republican: Treating them that way is what the free market requires in order to remain competitive.
Democrats Correctly View Corporations As Amoral, Not Uniformly Immoral
While Republicans believe, as a matter of ideology, that corporations are following positive morality by reacting to the market, Democrats do not hold the equal and opposite ideological belief that corporations are always immoral. There are no House Democrats working to re-write the corporate structure or to repeal their treatment as persons.
But Democrats Do Tend To Err In One Direction Rather Than The Other
Nonetheless, it is fair to say that the Democrats have a blind spot when it comes to corporate actions. Democrats from the left wing of the party tend to assume the worst possible motives animate all corporate behavior.
This week, a cartoon in The New York Times provided a perfect example of this blind spot. New guidelines were released regarding the use of statins to reduce the risk of heart disease. Many doctors were upset because the new guidelines follow the scientific evidence, something they often find objectionable, especially when it challenges the power dynamic where patients are supplicants in need of wisdom. Specifically, the guidelines suggest you should provide life-saving statin drugs even to patients who fail to respond to harangues regarding diet, exercize, and smoking.
Big Pharma Doesn't Profit Because Patents Have Run
A critical piece of information: these very popular and lifesaving drugs are no longer under patent; Lipitor, Zocor, Lovastatin, Mevacor, Pravachol are all available as cheap generics manufactured by lots of different small drug companies. Guidelines that suggest greater use will do nothing to help Merck and Pfizer, the giants who developed these drugs, as long as doctors prescribe the generic equivalents.
The knee-jerk liberal reaction is often exemplified by humorists, like the Daily Show, where they insist on making jokes premised on a total misunderstanding of the Federal Budget. A perfect example of liberal mistake came yesterday in "The Strip" a weekly cartoon in the NYT. Below are the first and last panels.
But notice something absolutely critical: it is possible for Democrats to believe otherwise. Being wrong is a factual mistake, not an ideological commitment to the belief that corporations are always evil. Joe Lieberman spent 20 years in the Senate and the joke went that he was a Democrat from the State of Pharma. When he got pushed out of the party, it had nothing to do with his love of Connecticut corporations (and everything to do with him being a sanctimonious ass who sought constant attention through mindless dealmaking of the sort lionized by the Broderite Press).
Dinosaurs Did Exist, But Now They Are Extinct
There are no "DINOs"--Democrats in Name Only, because there isn't an ideological laundry list of beliefs that Democrats must subscribe to. If a Democratic member of Congress doesn't believe in climate change or does believe that genetically modified crops are a threat to human health, that doesn't make him a DINO, it just makes him stupid or ignorant or both. Increasingly, that is exactly the opposite of the GOP.