Article Share: Democrats Have the Green Party Blues

From The Wall Street Journal:

Democrats Have the Green Party Blues

The party’s environmental extremism puts it at odds with working people whose aspiration is prosperity.

The political commentariat has unleashed a torrent of words since the 2016 election analyzing what befell the Democrats. Donald Trump won because of his TV fame; he tweeted his way into the White House; the Russians did it; etc.

Why not spend a few more words on the current demeanor of the Democratic Party? It was losing badly in elections at all levels as early as 2010, well before Mr. Trump came along. Despite its deeply flawed candidate, Hillary of the indiscreet emails, it won the popular vote for the presidency and therefore still has to be taken seriously.

Its members and backers, particularly at influential media organizations like the New York Times , the Washington Post and MSNBC, have been heaping abuse on the new president, suggesting Mr. Trump’s victory was illegitimate. When they hurl the words “fascist” and “plutocrat” wildly, their anger begins to sound pathological.

We know that the Democrats have been, since the New Deal, the party of government. Some of the outrage at Mr. Trump comes from federal bureaucrats who fear for their jobs. That’s understandable enough—simple economic determinism, as the Marxists might say.

But recent history reveals something else that may help explain the Democratic Party’s problems. Whereas it became the party of labor in the late 1930s and then snatched the civil-rights banner out of Republican hands in the 1960s, of late it has veered in a direction that does not particularly suit the interests of either working people or people of color with ambitions to climb the economic ladder. It has become, in essence, America’s Green Party, eclipsing the tiny party that bears that name.

Underlying the Green philosophy is a distrust of economic growth. That’s what distinguishes Greens from garden-variety environmentalists who simply want a safe and clean environment, as everyone does. Although the Greens operate under the flag of environmentalism, they have greater ambitions. They are a modern manifestation of a back-to-nature movement, feeding on the guilt and anxiety that accompany scientific advance.

Greens adopted the Democratic Party precisely because it is the party of government. They see government power as the way to suppress the animal spirits of private enterprise that produce innovation and new wealth.

Under Green influence, Democratic lawmakers, when they controlled Congress, designated large tracts of the American West as new “wilderness areas.” They fostered the Endangered Species Act, which has been an effective barrier to industrial or agricultural development in more than a few states, often on specious claims of endangerment. They vastly expanded the amount of private property officially designated as “wetlands,” thus restricting its use. Other examples abound.

And of course the Democrats, with Al Gore as their Joan of Arc, took up arms against fossil fuels with the fantastic claim that burning them endangers the planet. If that isn’t a call for a return to the dark ages—literally—what is? Without oil, coal and gas to run the power plants that supply electricity for lights, household appliances and factories, the economy would shut down. In Australia, Green attacks on coal have in fact caused blackouts.

To demonstrate how Green the Democrats have become, one need go no further than President Obama’s statement last year that climate change (the new code word for global warming) is the nation’s No. 1 problem. He also claimed 97% of scientists agree that “climate change is real, man-made and dangerous.” But actual scientists don’t agree 97% on much of anything.

The modern Green movement got traction from the 1968 founding of the Club of Rome at that city’s Accademia dei Lincei. Describing itself as a global think tank concerned with the “future of humanity,” it produced a global best seller called “The Limits to Growth,” predicting, inaccurately, that at the then-current rate of development mankind would soon exhaust the Earth’s natural resources. Maurice Strong, a self-described socialist and former oil tycoon, imported the Club of Rome’s philosophy into the United Nations, launching the U.N.’s propagation of the global warming theory.

Working people, fed up with the diktats of the Greens who infest their farms and factories, were a major factor in the election of Mr. Trump. The Greens, concentrated in coastal blue states, were shocked that anyone would question their motives. But to many Americans it looked like the Greens were disdainful of the aspirations of working people to live the good life—and there may have been some truth to that. When Mrs. Clinton described them as “deplorables,” that was the last straw.

If the Democrats want to make a comeback, they should think about purging their ranks of these zealots. Greens want to deprive the economy of its basic energy sources, and they have little regard for the consequences, mainly because they don’t think they will be among the victims. It might take some doing, but ditching the Greens is, if you’ll excuse the expression, Democrats’ best path out of the wilderness.

Mr. Melloan is a former deputy editor of the Journal editorial page and author of “Free People, Free Markets: How the Wall Street Journal Opinion Pages Shaped America” (Encounter, 2017).

Appeared in the September 7, 2017, print edition.

Original Article