Don’t take a bite; take a Chomsky!

Noam Sayin’?

What he's sayin' could save the Democrats.

What he's sayin' could save the Democrats.

Kyle Cunniingham, Staff Writer

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Noam Chomsky is a touted intellectual on the modern left. I am referring to the real left, not the Jigglypuff, short-tempered, authoritarian-leaning speech police one might find in an oversensitive safe space at UC Berkeley, but the principled followers of progressive ideals; liberty and equality of opportunity, both for fellow progressives and for conservatives. Noam Chomsky is perhaps the most refined voice of this latter leftist group, lampooning the evils of the U.S. government and the world economic tendency towards oligopolistic control and increasing wealth inequality. Chomsky transcends petty politics and, as such, warrants a bolstering article of adoration, the thesis of which is that the modern left is failing and ought to head in the “radical” direction wherein Chomsky lays rather than the centrist direction the Democratic Party leadership favors.

How do I know the Democrats are moving right? Firstly, the trend is not new. It began under Reagan, arguably even during the Carter Administration, giving my position clear and robust historical evidence. There is a political phenomenon known as the “Overton Window,” essentially defined as the ideological norm of a society. During the aforementioned period, President Carter favored the financial elite with economic policies and was principled yet ineffective in his handling of the Iranian Hostage Crisis. This resulted in a mass disillusionment with the left, paving the way to Reagan’s major victory in the 1980 election. During the subsequent conservative presidencies of Reagan and Bush, the Overton Window was allowed to creep right. It crept very far to the right. The trend was exacerbated in the following years, as even Democratic presidents have conceded up front to previously Republican ideas; Clinton’s graham-Leach-Bliley Act repealed FDR’s Glass-Steagall banking regulation and Obama’s now infamous Affordable Care Act, which models the right wing individual mandate system of healthcare, are two examples on a long list. The Republicans have subsequently run further to the right, and the window shifted with them. In an international political context, the elected right wing, especially the current tea party and likely imminent wave of alt-right candidates in the 2018 midterms, are conservative extremists, favoring (generally) ludicrous theocratic measures, anti-scientific dogma, antagonistic foreign policy, and backwards, baseless, elitist, establishment economic theory that bolsters the rich to no end. The elected leaders of the left in America, then, are moderate international conservatives, favoring social progress, which is behind the zeitgeist in an international context, and corporatist international and economic doctrine. This is a result of special interests being allowed to purchase politicians through farcically lax campaign finance restrictions, which allow the rich to elicit a quid pro quo relationship with candidates wherein their wealth expedites the candidate’s journey to power and the candidate is sure to pick up the phone whenever their rich donors call their office.

Why, then, is this article named after Noam Chomsky; how can I be certain that he is the solution? Well, there is a large, glaring caveat in the referenced political shift in the U.S.; it applies only to the politicians, perhaps because they represent only their donors, hence a tiny minority of the American public. However, it can also accurately be stated that it applies to attitudes that pierce the veil and land in the lay. There is an undeniable feeling, very pervasive and shown through extensive polling, of center-right identification among the populous of the United States, resulting from a fundamental psychological notion, the mere exposure effect. Simply put, the U.S. is used to robust right-wing ideology, thus they assume to varying degrees that there must be some truth in it, and even substantial identification with the so called “left” would still warrant this center-right label. Issue by issue, however, the public is aligned with the left without debate; policies like single-payer healthcare and progressive marginal tax rates that raise higher brackets more and cut lower brackets further have multiple polls showcasing their majority of support from the American people. But alas, the political climate of the U.S. is such that even a popular Democrat, Barack Obama, with a supermajority on Congress can only pass a formerly Republican healthcare plan (mind you, without a single Republican vote). This conciliatory approach, to be conflated with nothing except the weakness it truly is, is what led to the major losses in the 2010 and 2014 midterm losses, to the ascension of Donald Trump to the president, to the likely slaughtering of the Democrats in 2018 if they don’t change course. Given the choice between a conservative and a weak liberal who will eventually buckle and agree with the conservative, history vindicates the truth that most will choose the former. People are fatigued with the pseudo-leftist position that favors the status quo and seemingly stands for nothing at all.

Enter the ideas of a man like Noam Chomsky. While I have not addressed him much, it is not very necessary that I do. He is well-known and, furthermore, well-respected. His positions are surely too radical for some, or perhaps too advanced as the tenants of Anarcho-syndicalism are elusive to even some studied political junkies, but that is beside the point. His direction, a path lined with leaders like Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, who polling consistently rank as the most popular elected officials in the federal government, is the correct direction for Democrats to move if they wish to win. It is the only direction for the Democrats to go. If not, we can hope for, at best, the continued rush to the right of the Overton Window, the disintegration of international relations and environmental issues, and the swift demise of a once-great nation, ironically carried out in the name of returning it to greatness.

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