Friday, January 30, 2015

Grandstanding Leftists

Much of the American Left and similar movements worldwide are motivated by a desire to appear concern about an issue than to actually do anything about it. This obviously leads to bad policy as people push for things that make them look good, instead of things that solve the issue supposedly at hand.

This is seen in poverty politics, where many activists push for policies that create incentives to become and stay "poor" (as defined by government metrics) instead of working to enter the middle class. The focus of most government poverty programs is to make poverty (again, according to the government) as comfortable as possible. This serves two purposes for the grandstanders; first it allows them to brag about "helping the poor", and second, it creates from them a permanent underclass to continuously "help"

Note that by promoting a government program, the grandstanders pay no direct cost to support their claimed intentions, rather they shift the cost onto the public at large. They still take full credit for the program, and often accuse the people who are actually paying for it of being miserly when they criticize it.

It's not just poverty, of course. On the issue of crime, the Left often pushes for lower and more lenient sentencing of criminals, often based on racial metrics. But again, the people pushing the policy do not bear any of the costs; they do not attempt to help reform or re-integrate convicts into the community, nor do they permit the convicted to live near them. Yet the Left will brag about how compassionate they are because they allow violent men to leave prison early, with the almost certain result that those men will be back in prison after creating new victims.

On gun control, the supporters push to do something about gun violence, but the bans they push for have never reduced violent crime and have in some instances helped violent crime to rise. But the cost falls on other people, as the wealthy grandstanders who push for these laws personally averse to owning guns, and create exceptions for their personal bodyguards and gated community watchmen. Again, these costs fall on other people with no benefit, save the ability of the grandstanders to boast about how concerned they are about gun violence.

And on the environment the situation is even worse. While the left promotes policies that support "clean" energy while funneling money to their friends, they will never attempt or fund a local litter pick-up, river cleanup or other local environmental steps themselves. While they condemn the average person for taking too-frequent showers or driving gas-intensive cars, they own huge mansions that consume the average annual energy budget of a family monthly, hold conferences in exotic locales at energy-intensive venues, fly private jetliners and drive in up-armored SUV convoys. Clearly, above all the others, this set of grandstanders does not care even a little bit about their cause. Not only do they not make any personal sacrifice to further their claimed cause, they seem to do everything they can to set it back.

There's an interesting story from Daniel Hannan, a Member of the European Parliament. On one of the many charity votes taken by that body, MP Hannan stood and suggest that the Members give the per-diem bonus pay (paid on top of regular salary) to the cause they were voting. The sole response from the supporting members was one of seething rage. MP Hannan exposed them as grandstander. The same attitude holds true in much of American Leftist politics.


  1. Not sure any group is that monolithic but points well-taken... Reminds me too of the converse, where people demand Pro-Life but balk at "classic" welfare, which targets impoverished single mothers.

  2. The catch with classic welfare is the fear that it *creates* single mothers, but giving people an option to fall back on.

    And no, no group is monolithic. There are sincere Leftists, but that's not the point. :)