There's a troubling contempt for democracy in [the progressive] approach to politics because it assumes that your opponents have nothing of substance to contribute to the discussion. Moreover, this assumption inexorably leads liberals to think that if we could just let the experts run things, then everything would be great.This was the faith of the original progressives who pushed, in the words of legendary news commentator Walter Lippmann, the "mastery" of scientific governance over the "drift" of messy markets and disorganized democracy. The New Deal and the Great Society were grounded in the same vision of infinitely capable technocrats.
Even John F. Kennedy argued that the problems facing the country "deal with questions which are now beyond the comprehension of most men" and should therefore be left to the experts to settle without subjecting them to divisive democratic debate.
Just last year, Peter Orszag, former Obama Office of Management and Budget director, was making the same argument. "We need to counter the gridlock of our political institutions," Orszag argued, "by making them a bit less democratic." The answer to our problems, Orszag proclaimed: "Automatic policies and depoliticized commissions."
It's no wonder that this mindset led to the creation of ObamaCare. Indeed, this is the real principle at the core of the act: the idea that if we can just give the experts, the commissions, the panels and boards enough power to do "what all experts" believe, then everything will be great, particularly if we can force citizens and businesses alike to heel.
Tuesday, July 03, 2012
The Technocratic Threat
Jonah Goldberg on the technocratic agenda underlying Obamacare:
This is the great divide that distinguishes all aspects of American, indeed all Western, politics. It transcends national, ethnic, class, religious, and party divisions. It pits those who still retain some faith in democracy against those who would cede control of all aspects of life to expert opinion, and it is the aspect of contemporary political culture that most terrifies me.
Read Jonah's piece here.