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Daniel Henninger – Why Can’t the Left Govern?

Daniel Henninger – Why Can’t the Left Govern?

In a recent article at the Wall Street Journal, columnist Daniel Henninger posed this question:

Why Can’t the Left Govern?

Surveying the fall in support for the governments of Barack Obama, New York City’s progressive Mayor Bill de Blasio and France’s Socialist President François Hollande, a diagnosis of the current crisis begins to emerge: The political left can win elections but it’s unable to govern.

Once in office, the left stumbles from fiasco to fiasco. ObamaCare, enacted without a single vote from the opposition party, is an impossible labyrinth of endless complexity. Bill de Blasio’s war on charter schools degenerated into an unseemly attack on poor New York minority children. François Hollande’s first act in 2012, like a character in a medieval fable, was to order that more tax revenue be squeezed from the French turnips.

Mr. Obama’s approval rating is about 43%, Mr. de Blasio’s has sunk to 45% after just two months in office, and Mr. Hollande hit the lowest approvals ever recorded in the modern French presidency. The left inevitably says their leaders failed them. The failure looks self-inflicted.

Mr. Henninger is a very smart man and although I’m probably not qualified to do so, I will attempt to answer his question.

The reason the left can’t govern is because the left has no interest in governance. The left is, was and always will be interested in only one thing; activism.

Obama is an activist president. The judges Obama has appointed to the United States Supreme Court are activist judges. The vast majority of media figures who support Obama and the Democratic Party are activist journalists. Obama’s base is made up almost entirely of activist voters.

It’s impossible to effectively govern a nation if you view it as fundamentally flawed. Leftists have won a number of elections in recent years but they can’t run the government while they’re holding protest signs against the country they were elected to serve.

Featured image via the Wall Street Journal.


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“It’s impossible to effectively govern a nation if you view it as fundamentally flawed.”

I could not agree more. Since first paying attention to the campus unrest of the 60s I have seen a steady stream of hated for and blaming of America for all the world’s ills. When given power, those on the left have to fake it, because they have never had an interest in seeing a thriving, powerful America.

I think there’s a more fundamental reason for the failure of Collectivist governance…

they’re delusional. They start from a set of predicates that are false. Nothing good or rational comes out of that, nor can it.

Conversely, you can move from being an activist to sound governance, as American history shows.

    Skookum in reply to Ragspierre. | March 28, 2014 at 1:29 pm

    Modern liberal-progressives are psychologically immature, which accounts for such delusion and other dysdunctional manifestations.

Midwest Rhino | March 28, 2014 at 11:33 am

One of my working theories is that communism (or socialism, “leftistism”) is just organized crime with a government kicker.

Rumor was in old days everyone in say, NYC, signed on with the union window cleaners, cuz otherwise your shop windows would somehow end up broken. But that’s just low level thuggish control. At government levels you have to come up with some propaganda, like commies always do.

So when they break things (private health insurance, energy from XL pipeline, closing pretty clean coal plants, etc) … it is always alleged to be for some greater good. Obama had a long list of donors enriched by the solar “greater good” boondoggles.

That is where the activism comes in. The Green Party is a bunch of commies .. they take over the Sierra Club, they push global warming crap, and underneath they want control. Government control of education has happened and they not only get big bucks, they get control of the kids.

But it seems obvious that activism is just propaganda. They get crappy teachers high pay and we can’t fire them. They don’t care … they actually like a dumber populace.

Quantitative easing has only harmed our recovery and enriched the rich. But of course they claim it is for some greater good. They break our health care system, claiming in time they will get to “universal care”, which would be no doubt full of government union employees just like our public schools.

Pelosi and the rest I believe have intimate ties to organized labor/crime, sometimes going through some middle men. There are some tools that get played as sincere “activists”, but at the DC level, leftists seem willing to sell out the country’s foundation entirely, for their organized regime of power.

Activism is just the lame excuse that somehow passes for truth in our dumbed down PC world. They have been planning for fifty years on how to break our society down and control us. This is why institutions of religion are prime targets, or the Boy Scouts, or any legit institution of traditional values.

Well, partly. Nobody ever claimed that the theatre critics are themselves decent playwrighters or actors.

But the hypothesis doesn’t address why these losers get elected. Nobody likes perpetual whiners, but somebody’s voting for these turkeys anyway (somebody besides dead people and other non-existent voters, that is).

    Gremlin1974 in reply to tom swift. | March 28, 2014 at 11:55 am

    Let me begin with saying that I believe that liberalism is a form of Mental Illness, I don’t defend that assertion except to say that I base it on 20 years of medical experience, most of which has been in treatment of mental illness, developmental disorders, and School Nursing.

    Now, as to why leftest get elected the answer is simple. Leftest appeal to the emotional reactions of voters and not the thinking/intellectual/logical reactions. It is so much easier to be emotional than to think and reason. This is part of the reason they want to tell people what to think instead of teaching them how to think for themselves. It is why they try to legislate thought and why when challenged they have to devolve into emotional arguments such as racism and prejudice, because they can’t actually defend their arguments and assertions with reasoned logical thought.

      JackRussellTerrierist in reply to Gremlin1974. | March 28, 2014 at 8:10 pm

      “It is so much easier to be emotional than to think and reason.”

      The hugest BIBGO! ever.

      For far too many years kids (now adults, and continuing) have been taught shortcuts, cheating and the easy way. Few are willing to do the hard work needed to achieve excellence. At this juncture, the most we can hope for are a few who are naturally competent. Burgeoning, TRUE scientists? Most are polluted with libtard thought, same for many professional fields. Even some doctors and engineers think via the libtard model now.

      First, it was our institutions. Then they came for the hard sciences, and they’re winning. Meanwhile, our dear Grand Ol’ Jellyfish Party leaders and electorate sit on their hands tsk-tsking the whole thing.

    JackRussellTerrierist in reply to tom swift. | March 28, 2014 at 8:01 pm

    Answer: Public education, which is now more like pubic education.

I knew the answer to this question when I was 15 living in a house full of Marxists. It’s a little discouraging to realize how slow the Right’s mainstream braintrust is to understand the Left.

If your objective is to have a revolution, you will not govern effectively.

This is a “F*ck the System” presidency.

The answer is simple.

They can’t govern because they don’t understand HOW to govern. All they know to do is promise whatever it takes to get elected, and then pay off their cronies with sweetheart deals.

They don’t CARE that SS, Medicare and now Obamacare are completely and totally unsustainable. They’ll be out of office before the bill comes due. So they kick the can down the road.

    JackRussellTerrierist in reply to Olinser. | March 28, 2014 at 8:18 pm

    I disagree that they don’t care that those matters are unsustainable. I believe that is the goal. The false promises and the dumbed-down electorate are simply a matter of establishing the necessary prerequisites for the larger agenda. I don’t know if “to eunuch (the U.S.)” is a verb or not, but that is the frontier, as they see it.

The morons keep going back to failed ideas and philosophies.

You simply can’t carry five pounds of shit in a four pound bag.

    JackRussellTerrierist in reply to Paul. | March 28, 2014 at 8:23 pm

    It’s more like 100 lbs. of shit in a 4 lb. bag, first of all.

    Second, the failed policies are the objective. Looking at all obastard has done, one has to ask him or herself what else could he do to decimate as powerful a republic?

Henry Hawkins | March 28, 2014 at 12:44 pm

People whose whose raison d-etre is as political outsiders demanding change will of course struggle as insiders effecting those changes. Part of it is because political activism doesn’t train one well for bipartisan governance. The greater part is that the change they activate for is largely made up of individual plans and policies that simply don’t work, a realization that dooms their governance.

    JackRussellTerrierist in reply to Henry Hawkins. | March 28, 2014 at 8:29 pm

    Let’s call it what it is: self-interest. They spew their BS to the dumbed-down electorate, then do what they really want to do, which is get re-elected in order to turn this republic into a socialist republic with themselves sitting as the power elitists. Mostly libtards, but even some conservatives, fall for it.

Governing requires that one works within the framework of laws. Those laws, in a nations such as ours, are typically enacted via a process in which representatives of the people or the people themselves vote on those laws.
The left has no interest in governing because they are at heart, Marxists and Communists. They do not wish to work within a framework of laws, rather they deem themselves worthy of dictating rules, regulations, laws, and edicts. Try as they might, they abhor the freedom that our country gives to the individual citizen and with it power, and their contempt of that individual shows in every thing they do.
They do what every committed communist does, they manipulate the masses who cannot see or are uneducated as to what the communist actually is in order to get into power(via promises of equal outcomes for all and punishment for those who have more), then once in government, they see to circumvent the government’s restraints in order to proclaim their own power.

If you presume that Democrat politicians are being honest when they claim their motivations are to help the poor, the middle class, etc then indeed one would have to assume that they are completely incompetent at governing.

As a fundamental point of reference was your average American better off in 2006 before the Democrats took Congress or now?

But if you instead presume that their only real goal is to acquire more power and wealth for themselves, then you get to see the genius of the left.

Obama has spent his entire administration looting the treasury on behalf of Democrat client groups and killing the notion of representative government. He has been spectacularly successful at implementing his vision.

    Juba Doobai! in reply to 18-1. | March 28, 2014 at 2:01 pm

    I’ve been watching Foyle’s War. In one of the episodes in Season 8, Sam,s husband, newly elected, brings down his boss. The boss’s crime? He hired a land assessor to value the land at double its actual worth so that the landowner from whom it had been requisitioned for military use would not be able to repurchase it at the agreed on current value. The guy’s rationale? The landowner was a greedy developer who wanted to use the land to get rich rather than plant it with crops at a time when the country needed his acres for food production. The pol says he didn’t lie, cheat, and steal the man’s land for the money. Oh no! He was purer and more virtuous than that. His party? The Labor Party, bunch of left wing, socialists hacks who thought they were better and more virtuous than everybody. No honesty with the Left.

Juba Doobai! | March 28, 2014 at 1:55 pm

The left can’t govern because they’re not interested in governance. Governing implies dialogue, a willingness to reason, to persuade. The Communists are interested in none of that. They are the hammer and sickle crowd: cut you down and crush you. They only want to mandate, to force, to punish if you don’t do what they want. That’s not governance; that tyranny.

    tom swift in reply to Juba Doobai!. | March 28, 2014 at 2:45 pm

    Governing implies dialogue, a willingness to reason, to persuade.

    That’s one way to do it, but not the only way.

    Stripped of details, all forms of socialism are based on the conviction that conscious and deliberate control of all aspects of an economy will be more efficient – that is, will maximize benefits while minimizing costs – than an uncontrolled economy, i.e. one dominated by natural or market forces. Now this has a certain appeal, and not just to criminals. Intellectuals – people who believe the world’s problems are best addressed by thoughtful cogitation, with no actual experience or experiment necessary – are particularly prone to fall for it.

    From the idea of rational economic control it’s just a small intellectual hop, skip, and jump to the idea that all aspects of society would benefit from similar manipulation by a guiding intelligence.

    But for these convictions to have any chance to work, there must be both central control of all aspects of society, and complete information available to the central controllers. In other words, the state must be authoritarian and coercive, and have the best possible surveillance system. Mussolini called it the “totalitarian” state, and he meant it in a good way.

    To belabor the point, a socialist state absolutely requires all this if it is to have even a merely theoretical chance of functioning. It doesn’t have to be evil (though it probably will be), it doesn’t have to be criminal (though it probably will be), but it must be totalitarian.

    From there, the rest follows. Voting is irrelevant, as the running of society is done by the experts who make up the central committee. When engineers are running the boiler room of a ship, they don’t ask anyone else to vote on what the valve settings should be and how much coal should be shovelled in; they know what to do without polling the amateurs. And so with the Central Committee.

    This was one of the explicit appeals made by the Communist Party of the USA. Members didn’t have to trouble themselves thinking, as the Party had big brains available who would worry about what Party doctrine had to say about all that complicated stuff. All the members had to do was cough up their dues (the CPUSA was always very attentive to dues) and take orders.

    The fallacies of the socialist dream are obvious enough. Even if the Central Committee remains scrupulously honest, a group of veritable Catos, and remains under the control of intelligent sorts (which would be most unusual for a committee), it can’t succeed, because nobody knows how to run a society in all its details. It’s a bit more complex than feeding a ship’s boilers. So a society run along socialist lines by a central committee is doomed to failure. But even after it fails, the totalitarian surveillance state will persist.

    Now during my formative years, liberals and socialists were very distinct animals. But over the past decades they’ve moved closer and closer. I now tend to agree with what Norman Mattoon Thomas, a perennial socialist candidate for US president, said in 1944 – “The American people will never knowingly adopt socialism. But, under the name of ‘liberalism,’ they will adopt every fragment of the socialist program, until one day America will be a socialist nation, without knowing how it happened.”

    Thomas was wrong, though. Some Americans will have a pretty good idea of how it happened. But it will be too late to do anything about it. The putative benefits of socialism will fail, as they always have so far, but the dreary, inefficient, and oppressive totalitarian state will remain.

The left is, was and always will be interested in only one thing; activism.

I would take that train of thought to the next stop. Activism may be their method, but the goal of their activism is power over others. They’re unable to obtain that power in the free market of ideas by convincing you that their way is better, so they always turn to collectivism and force.

How liberals operate when they don’t get their way.

He continued his rant:

The NRA, which they’re behind this of course, they want guns everywhere. Jesus Christ! I would like to invite one of the NRA board members, and I’ll be armed, let’s just get this over with, OK? Come on down to Georgia and I’ll be packing heat and you be packing heat or whether you want to or not, I don’t give a damn, it’s up to you. And you come, meet me someplace, and all of a sudden, see, we have stand your ground here, and all of a sudden I’m going to feel real goddamned threatened by you! And I will shoot you! If I feel threatened. The law says I can!

The “progressive” Left are a bunch of self-centered Id-ruled tyrants with no sense of propriety or boundaries. Their interest lay solely in wielding Power like a weapon to enforce their will. And they’ll say and do and lie about anything to achieve that position.

Progressive fascism is a religion in which the believers work together to destroy our country so they can rebuild it as a progressive fascist utopia. A utopia where they control the state and the state controls every aspect of society.

Not much different than Nazism, Communism and Muslims. They all believe that the ends justify the means. That they have to control society because they know better than everybody else.

This religion guides them to work together for the cause. Teachers teach their students to hate the country and indoctrinate them into the progressive fascist cause. MSM progressives manipulate the news and lie to their viewers/readers for the cause. Federal employees break the law so their dear leader can use the government against their “enemies”.

Activism is a symptom not the cause. The left cant govern because they suffer from Perpetual King for a Day Syndrome. King for a Day is an intellectually lazy mind game that we played in college three decades ago, though I’m sure it has migrated to k-12 education due to the progressive bent of today’s teachers. Basically it is group of people sitting around dreaming of all the ails of the state/country/world one could fix if one has the ultimate plenipotentiary power to effect monumental changes in one day.

To understand why I use that seemingly contradictory phrase, one has to look back at the history of utopianism (I suggest Levin’s Ameritopia as as a good start). While most everyone has dreamt of utopia or Heaven on Earth, the left is far more susceptible to carrying this irrational idealism throughout their lives. I called King for a Day intellectually lazy because it allows the participants to ignore reality – sure it is a mind game but its fundamental premise is one can entirely disregard human nature. Humankind are not Borg.

A side journey at this point is rather important. All economic/political systems this world has experienced have ignored/disregarded/fantasized Human nature. On the right there has never been, and will never be, a free market. There are always cultural, societal, and governmental controls over markets. Robber Barons existed because the existing power structures allowed them – the greed for power and wealth working hand in hand. On the left there has never been, and never will be, a harmonious communal society. Privileged idealism allowed for, and in fact encouraged power and wealth hungry tyrants and dictators to purge their countries of non-like minded citizens.

Now getting back to the difference between left and right (and note I’m leaving out Monarchies – left or right they believed a divine providence to rule), idealism is far more pervasive on the left; it is encouraged, imbred, and indoctrinated in their core soul. Feeling good about doing good is all that matters, irrespective of the outcome. In fact, today’s left believes that merely because their ‘heart was in the right place’, they are indemnified against all the plight, suffering, and death their idealism has caused.

The left plays King for a Day, every day, and perpetually ignores the reason they havent succeeded in creating their heaven on earth is their own delusional idealism.

The left can not rule because they believe that human nature is malleable, that they can cajole, or if necessary thrash, imprison, or kill, those that do not agree with them, to gain acquiescence for their brilliant idealism – their myopic vision of Utopia.

    bains in reply to bains. | March 29, 2014 at 2:51 pm

    I add that, today, it is unproductive to accuse those with whom you debate of a host of provocative labels; Marxist, Communist, Socialist, TeaParty, Libertarian, Christian Conservative… Islamist… jihadist.

    Given the climate of western culture, we all know it is only the middle three that really draw the ire of prominent media. Noteworthy they are scared to death of the last two, and complicit with the first three.

    The reason I am reluctant to use the first three terms is that it is counterproductive (most of my friends and family have been conditioned by the leftist culture I allude to below). While it is much more accepted to call a small-l libertarian a TeaBagger, it nonetheless rankles. The reason for this cultural disparity, Marxism is the root of all modern leftism. And leftists are loath to acknowledge that foundational premise of their ideological bent.

    I was born a bit before our current Presisdent. My sister was earning her M-Div about the same time Obama got his M-Law. My BA-Hist pre-dated those and my BS-ENG post-dated them. I know the tenor of education of that time.

    A majority of my History/Poly Sci/Philosophy (socialogy and economics as well) Profs had been adherents to or sympathetic to, the Marxist ideologies rampant within the University a decade earlier. After all, it was the hip thing in the 60s and 70s. So in the 80s, my professors were not committed Marxist nor committed Communists. But they were very sympathetic to the underlying principles. They made no bones about what their preferential governing system should be.

    Visions of Lenin’s Vanguard. They were the enlightened, privileged, and they were entirely isolated from the trials and tribulations of the masses they so wanted to ‘help and serve’ (read rule and control – the masses are too stupid to know what is in their best interests). This the ideological underpinnings of today’s prominent left.

here’s most of why they can’t govern and their idea’s always end in catastrophe… first, from the start their idea’s are based in delusions and pretty much all hardcore emotional feelings, irrational idea’s or illogical thought, the prequisities for such are all deluded…
so the end result always doomed to total failure

the foundations of liberalism are basically based on this,
it’s like trying to build a castle out of cards…
a normal person would say you build a castle out of stone/walls …because then the foundations would be solid and not crumble at the smallest amount of pressure.

but to a liberal in the medieval peroid… building a stone wall would in some way contribute to (that hoax) global warming or would siphon money to someone who may benefit from whom isn’t them (the leftists).
….and thus they would literally force you or try to get the king to pass laws to force you to build it out of cards
even though an entire castle made out of cards wouldn’t be cost effective costing billions more just to do vs walls… but it would shatter the moment someone touched it, or worse provide no protection from a foriegn army should they decide to invade.

if they can’t get force to do it with goon thuggery (unions) …then they need to be in control to change the laws in their favor …to force you to do their biding.

but the libs are so concerned about their delusions..
that they don’t care about bad results or the consquences of their actions…

…that to bring up these facts and details would drive them into insane emotional tyranical rage libs would try to give a reason for their delusion… but they wouldn’t be able to form a rational arguement and so they would have to resort to calling you a racist, or a hater… to mask their own stupidity.

reality just tends to be against them 99.9% of the time.

I actually don’t know if it’s intentional, or accidental… sometimes I think what they do is intentional – more because they hate the success of nation and usually are jealous of those who have some degree of natural prosperity while they are stuck being total losers.