Liberals still making excuses for capitalism

Even after Nina Turner's defeat, they still refuse to look in the mirror.

Daniel Marans, in Jewish Currents on Nina Turner’s defeat in Ohio:

Right now, moderates are saying that this is the death knell for the left, while the left is blaming big money. The truth is, everybody should be expecting big money, and this is a very telling failure of execution on the part of progressives. The ideological implications are less clear. For instance, Data For Progress found that while Turner’s unfavorables went up over the course of the race, support for Medicare For All remained stable. So I think there needs to be a much higher standard for professionalization in left-leaning campaigns. There’s a hanger-on problem in the left political subculture—you have a lot of Bernieworld people who end up filling not just volunteer positions, but consulting gigs and major campaign roles. When left-wing candidates aren’t willing to confront uncomfortable truths about the things they’ve said and done in the past, because the people around them keep them insulated, then they’re going to keep losing.

If you were reading this blog after last years’ presidential primary, you may recognize the argument Marans is making here as what I’ve called the bootstraps theory of elections. The premise is simple: because elections proceed within a truly competitive marketplace of ideas, you can never blame capitalism for anyone’s defeat. Losses must always be understood as a direct referendum on the merits of a campaign — its ideas, its messaging, its strategy, and so on — and to insist otherwise is to simply make excuses.

This is the subtext at work when Marans sees the left “blaming big money” and responds, as if in counterpoint, that “everybody should be expecting big money.” The assumption here is that if you expect big money you should be able to overcome it.

Why does Marans simply take this for granted? Let’s apply his own reasoning. When leftists insist that perhaps we could not have overcome big money, Marans concludes that this is our way of rationalizing “uncomfortable truths” that we “aren’t willing to confront.” If this is fair reasoning, then I’d like to propose an alternative: Marans simply is not willing to confront the uncomfortable truth that capitalism has broken democracy. He has an ideological need to believe that capitalism can coexist with a functional electoral system, and this forces him to shift blame away from big money. Extending the Marans argument even further, we can speculate about another reason he refuses to blame capitalism: “the people around [him] keep [him] insulated” from these unpleasant ideas, since it is professionally lucrative for his circle of journalists to avoid contemplating ideas too far outside of the liberal capitalist mainstream.

I am not a fan of this kind of polipsych punditry, and think that journalists like Marans are much more useful when they report on facts than when they float speculative theories about what motivates socialists to disagree with their analysis. But if we’re going to play amateur psychoanalyst, I think my theory that liberals are in denial about capitalism is just as plausible as what Marans is selling here.