Tuesday, 12 March 2019

Why Isn’t JA Channelling AOC?

Red Star Rising: A very similar set of perceptions fuelled the rise of both Jacinda Ardern and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. In the case of "AOC", the twenty-something, student-loan-burdened, former-waitress from Brooklyn, who proudly proclaims herself to be a “democratic-socialist”, has come to stand for everything that the contemporary Democratic Party is not – but urgently needs to become. In Jacinda's case, however, the radicalism is more apparent than real.

WHY ISN’T JACINDA ARDERN channelling Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC)? This is not a frivolous question. Labour found itself swept into a winning position at the end of 2017 almost entirely on the strength of Jacinda’s extraordinary appeal – especially to voters under 40.

Central to Jacinda’s appeal was the widespread perception that Labour’s new leader represented a definitive ideological break: not only with the Labour Party of Roger Douglas, but also with the woman who did her best to clear away the worst of the mess Rogernomics had made, Helen Clark.

A very similar set of perceptions has fuelled the rise of AOC. This twenty-something, student-loan-burdened, former-waitress from Brooklyn, who proudly proclaims herself to be a “democratic-socialist”, has come to stand for everything that the Clinton-dominated Democratic Party is not – but urgently needs to become.

So far, AOC hasn’t put a foot wrong in the complex dance routine that must be executed to secure a hearing for the aspirations of her locked-out generation. Her energetic sponsorship of a “Green New Deal” for America has made it impossible for House Speaker, Nancy Pelosi, to nudge the radicalism of AOC and her newly-minted congressional comrades into the long grass. In similar vein, the young Brooklynite’s outspoken call for the USA’s wealthiest citizens to be taxed at 70 cents in the dollar on all income in excess of $250,000 has given Overton’s Window a much-needed shove to the left.

A politician of Jacinda Ardern’s acute sensitivity can hardly have failed to notice the bright red glow currently pulsing from the heart of the zeitgeist. She would have watched in awe as Bernie Sanders’ “Children’s Crusade” forced Hilary Clinton to call in all her favours (and Super-Delegates) to head the old socialist off at the pass. But that awe would have turned to horror as Jeremy Corbyn’s socialist revival rolled up Blairism like a threadbare carpet and set the crowds cheering at Glastonbury.

Suddenly, Jacinda’s carefully scripted lines about being a “pragmatic idealist” seemed likely to have a very limited shelf-life. Certainly, her “politics of kindness” trope continues to inspire, but the problem with throwing around such kindly words is that, sooner or later (and preferably sooner!) they have to be matched by kindly deeds. Helping with the barbie at Waitangi looks good on the six o’clock news, but more is needed. Much more.

Does Jacinda get this? Does she understand the huge political potential – and risk – posed by the “surplus consciousness” of tens-of-thousands of young adults laden-down with professional credentials and student debt but denied the security and status attached to well-remunerated employment and a solid career-path? The precarious position of young people in the labour market is amplified even more pitiably for them in the marriage and property markets.

These voters are too well-educated to find solace among the angry populists of the Alt-Right, but they are signing up in droves to the system-challenging – and changing – agenda of democratic socialism. After all, what favours has neoliberal capitalism ever done them?

It’s one of the great mysteries of this government that, on the night the Labour-NZ First coalition was announced, Winston Peters got this – and Jacinda didn’t.

Then again, maybe not. One of the first big political gigs offered to Jacinda was an internship in Tony Blair’s Cabinet Office. It’s hardly the sort of ideological grounding to generate a surge of enthusiasm and support for Bernie Sanders or (God forbid!) Jeremy Corbyn.

Nor should it be forgotten that Jacinda was for a good portion of her life a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. One has only to recall the shining eyes and broad smiles of those Mormon missionaries on your doorstep, or tipping you that friendly wave as they ride by on their bicycles, to remember suddenly where you have seen Jacinda’s political style before.

Those familiar with Jacinda’s CV will object that her stint as President of the International Union of Socialist Youth (IUSY) equips her even more impressively than AOC for the struggle to advance democratic socialism. A little more is required of a true democratic socialist, however, than the ability to call people “comrade” with a straight face. Nor is the IUSY quite the bastion of radical socialist internationalism that its name might suggest. Any organisation that welcomes a far-right CIA stooge like Venezuela’s “Interim President”, Juan Guaido, into its ranks, has some explaining to do!

Finally, there is the problem of the company Jacinda has trained herself to keep. Throughout her entire political career she has surrounded herself with – and been surrounded by – right-wing social-democrats. Blair’s New Labourites; Clark’s incrementalists; Cullen’s DNC-endorsed economic policies; and, most recently, Grant Robertson’s “Budget Responsibility Rules”. She was an enemy of David Cunliffe and, by implication, the hopes and dreams of the thousands of Labour Party members who supported him. And, lastly, it’s a pretty safe bet that, like Labour’s current president, Nigel Howath, she has no time at all for that bane of Blairism, Jeremy Corbyn.

No. Jacinda may envy AOC’s extraordinary political savvy and covet her social media skills. She may even decide to crib some of her best lines about saving the planet and soaking the rich. But anyone anticipating an Ardern-led shift towards democratic socialism (which is still, ironically enough, the official ideology of the NZ Labour Party) is bound to be disappointed.

Democratic Socialism, as practiced by AOC, will be DOA in Jacinda’s NZLP.

This essay was originally posted on The Daily Blog of Tuesday, 12 March 2019.


Mark Hubbard said...

To be fair, AOC's Green Deal, at a cost of up to US$90trillion (when US total govt debt is already an agreed insolvent $23trillion), is in the detail basically the mass extinction of humans.

And I mean this.

Plus in the process what's left of free societies are turned into subsistence, collectivist gulags.

She is a great example of how command economy central banking has destroyed the minds of Millennial free lunchers: she really does believe in MMT - that the US Fed can just print money to infinity forever with no repercussions. Just as Ardern in banning oil explorations on no analysis whatsoever seems to be a believer in Harry Potter politics - that when our power grid grows unreliable, someone will come along with a magic wand and make it all okay for no cost.

There's a huge financial event coming up the pike. And it's human misery, unfortunately (which will have nothing to do with capitalism; indeed only capitalism might have saved us from it, and small governments that didn't control and intrude in the minutia of our lives).

Tiger Mountain said...

Easy enough to nod in agreement with Chris, and I still recall the televised look of unhideable shock captured on Jacinda’s face sitting in a corridor, when David Cunliffe won the ballot for Labour Leader

But the problem goes beyond the current charismatic leader’s political shallowness–how is political pressure to be built to both re-elect a less than optimal coalition, and, attack the Neo Liberal consensus which sees the eternal roll over of SOEs, Reserve Bank Act, free in and outflows of capital, and membership of “5 Spies”? That is the question.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

Judging by the way conservatives are attacking Ocasio Cortez, they are running shit scared of the woman. Similar attacks to those on Ardern – "she's a girl" – "she hasn't done anything" – "she doesn't know anything" and of course for Ardern "how dare she have a baby". So much so in Ocasio Cortez's case that they have had to invent a whole new branch of economics called "practical economics." Because they can't get round the problem that of course she graduated with honours in economics and politics. So of course they treat the green new deal as if it is set policy, cost it extravagantly and try to undermine her that way. In fact there is no way you can cost the damn thing, because it's not specific enough, and because it's simply a proposal, or more realistically a request for proposals – not policy. She knows damn fine that she going to have to negotiate on aspects of that if she even has a chance to put it into operation given the general conservatism of Democrats these days. And let's face it, if they applied the same logic to Trump's wall which of course they don't, they can't cost that out either. So as usual it's lazy politics.

And if you actually read it, is not a great deal of socialism in it at all, just a bit of social democracy. It's freely available here

I'm not sure why American conservatives should worry about a deficit anyway, given that it's ballooned under every Conservative president since Reagan, since they cut taxes and don't worry about the consequences.

Patricia said...

Well, I can’t say I am enamoured with Jacinda BUT if she understands MMT she has my vote forever. The old Chicago school of economics pedalled to a generation of students has done so so much damage to the people of the world that it will be completely gone within 20 years. Future generations will marvel at the stupidly of that generation. Just have a look at this website to see the graphs of how widespread MMT is.

Plugger said...

Jacinda is a scab.

Jens Meder said...

I think in a free and realistic democracy the common sense of a centrist vote will ultimately still prevail over the extremes of the political Right and Left.
Let's see what the next elections will deliver here and in the U.S.

pat said...

It’s one of the great mysteries of this government that, on the night the Labour-NZ First coalition was announced, Winston Peters got this – and Jacinda didn’t.

Seriously? Winston has never done what he said and all theyre both interested in is the treasury benches at the end of the day....we are destined to be served by the self serving...until it all falls over.

My pick ...not long now.

sumsuch said...

Don't know why you brought in Mormonism. We were all religious, young. No doubt she's reading every piece of media -- the real in-tray of politicians.

They're all CVs, apart from the former leader and maybe Jackson, though I doubt it from his soft soap.

Funny, the only talker in the Coalition is Peters.

Water weak. But every minister has their chance to lead us into Climate Change.

Bryan Gould aside.

pat said...

@ Patricia
MMT is flawed as it is modelled on a closed economy.....how many of those can you identify?

sumsuch said...

Third last para captures the tyros who alienate us all. You say the Labour Party President hates Corbyn. And the 'Left' political commentator Stephen Someone on RNZ National Monday morning programme, hosted by the ever slightly tolerable Katheryn Ryan, told us NZ Labour preferred Hillary Clinton over the only Jewish Saint?! The media suffocating...us. Not a NZ thing...Roge. But no one who knows you ever took you seriously.

Tom Hunter said...

I'll say this for her: she looks hot in $3,500 outfits and $800 shoes. Especially sitting on the stoop of some clapped out apartment block.


She's an album cover.

Patricia said...

I think you need to read a a lot more about MMT.

Nick J said...

Mark, this "huge event coming' is a financial crash. We end a cycle initiated by Roosevelt that regulated the financial sector until Clinton signed away Glass Steagall when all sorts of larceny was let loose. Overlay that with the conversion of social democracy to neo liberal corporatism since the 80s you have a perfect recipe for oligarchic authoritarianism run by bureaucracy, private and public. This is the real face of capitalism, it won't save us.

As Roosevelt discovered, capitalism required social democracy to save it.

Nick J said...

When the Right says 'shes just a girl" we know that she has got them on the run. I don't think the Left would accuse Amy or Crusher of being girls, to be a girl you have to display some sign of humanity.

Nick J said...

To Foster "kindness" and fairness Jacinda needs to merely enstate the Admiral Byng principle on the Public Service. Tell the CEOs that their departments need to treat people as citizens who they serve, as opposed to clients they manage. They will fail, so J then needs to very publically shoot a few CEOs.

Nick J said...

Exactly Tiger. It requires a reversal of the neoliberal deforms...scrap the Reserve Bank ammendments, revert to the prior State sector legislation, kill the Local Authority deforms. To do so requires a revolutionary mindset, bit like Douglas and crew. You have to do it covertly and unannounced. I would say it won't happen but never say never.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

And then of course there are the eejits who go on about their clothes, particularly Ocasio Cortez. Now here of course both women are on a hiding to nothing, because the eejits will get them either way. If they wear expensive clothes, it's "how can they afford such expensive clothes when they're Socialists?" – Of course in Ocasio Cortez's example borrowed for a photo shoot but never mind. And if they don't wear fashionable clothes all the eejits will be calling them out for being "dowdy". Which is funny because I don't think anyone has ever mentioned John Key's expensive suits (at least not in a pejorative manner) or for that matter Winston Peters', because I have it on reasonably good authority that his suits cost two or three grand a pop. And I guarantee Trump's suits cost an arm and a leg although he's being ripped off there because they do absolutely nothing for him. And funnily enough it seems to be only conservatives that do this – I might be wrong but I can't remember anyone criticising Maggie Barry's clothes or the clothes of any of the "dragon – ladies" that seem to represent the right these days. Interesting that.
I've been on Quora a fair bit lately and there are a shitheap of these passive-aggressive troll questions about Ocasio Cortez – she's obviously got them worried. And as I said before, making them look like stupid old farts on social media. Well she gets applause from this old fart for that.

Tom Hunter said...

And then of course there are the eejits who go on about their clothes
Actually I was simply using her highly expensive designer clothes as a pointer to how she's just another lightweight socialist who will use the ideology to attain a level of wealth that she could not in the private sector. Like Bernie Sanders and his three houses. A bum until he became mayor in his 40's.

She talks a good game about wealth re-distribution and Socialism but she loves money and the good life just as much as Castro, Chavez and company did. She'll be first in line for the Dacha's comrade. Not you and your family.

And that was just the comment of mine that Chris let through.

I had another comment which had plenty to say about the bone-headed statements she's made to date on numerous things, esp. on matters economic where she supposedly studied at Boston University. Sarah Palin said about 1/10 as many stupid things as AOC did and got roasted by the media. AOC gets praise - well except for the things she said that are so stupid even other Leftists had to haul her up.

On the numbers front my fave was this:
“$21 TRILLION of Pentagon financial transactions ‘could not be traced, documented, or explained.’ $21T in Pentagon accounting errors. Medicare for All costs ~$32T. That means 66% of Medicare for All could have been funded already by the Pentagon. And that’s before our premiums.”

Dear god. The US military would not have spent $20 trillion in all the years since 1940.

Face it GS. She's a moron. The GOP's not afraid of her, they're afraid of a generation that's just as ignorant, and dumb enough to also think the same way; free stuff paid for by someone else.

Aside from that, the GOP are looking forward to her plans for having most things free and claiming that it doesn't matter about the numbers as long as she's morally correct. Roll-on her takeover of the Democrat Party and future elections.

Tom Hunter said...

but I can't remember anyone criticising Maggie Barry's clothes or the clothes of any of the "dragon – ladies" that seem to represent the right these days. Interesting that.

Just you viewing the world through your tiny cycloptic eye again, GS. As usual. Go take a look at The Standard and Lefty comments on Kiwiblog. Plenty of nasty shit in their about the looks of Shipley, Bennet's weight loss+new clothes and of course Collins looks.


But naturally being a Lefty you always insist your side's wearing the halo.

Tom Hunter said...

I'm not sure why American conservatives should worry about a deficit anyway, given that it's ballooned under every Conservative president since Reagan, since they cut taxes and don't worry about the consequences.

One of the things that I love about Guerilla Surgeon is that he's proud of being economically and historically ignorant. I'll leave you with three facts about US economic history and government taxes and spending.

1. The House controls the Budget. That's their job. Presidents propose budgets but they almost always get kicked to the curb. Who controlled the House in Reagan's time? Democrats. Who agreed to tax cuts and increasing deficits? Democrats. Who controlled the House for most of Clinton's time? The GOP. I'll give credit to Bill for not fighting the GOP House's sensible budgets.

2. JFK launched the era of income tax cuts by proposing dropping the top rate on the highest earners from 90+% to 70%. LBJ pushed it through after JFK's death. Reagan and co simply repeated the process twenty years later.

3. Know why JFK and LBJ did that? Because they wanted to increase tax revenue. And those tax cuts did.

But nothing will pentrate your brain. You'll be back here again asap saying exactly the same stupid things.'

No wonder AOC is your hero.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

"Go take a look at The Standard and Lefty comments on Kiwiblog. Plenty of nasty shit in their about the looks of Shipley, Bennet's weight loss+new clothes and of course Collins looks."

There is a difference between the sort of people who comment on blogs and respected members of the press, political commentators, and politicians. There seems to be a concerted effort by conservative members of these groups to attack her looks, and the amount of money she apparently needs to maintain them. But that's on me I should have made it more clear.

greywarbler said...

Tom Hunter
Name the extensive left comments about pollies' clothes on The Standard
and Kiwiblog? Type some out as examples, and give us links to the others.
And particularly the ones where you found lefty comments on Kiwiblog.

And define how you determine such lefty comments? How do you classify them as such? You are definitely a righty, I can tell by your constant BS.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

"The House controls the Budget."
One of your weaknesses Tom is that as usual with conservatives you don't do complexity. I guess we can't blame you for that given the conservative hive mind. The House has to approve the president's budget, and it has to make a decision on whether the thing is to be approved, negotiated, or rejected. Considering that the problems associated with rejecting the budget – as we have seen in the last year or so with your man Trump's budget – could be worse than the problems of accepting a budget they don't like. Not to mention the fact that even in the 1980s, the Democrats could hardly be considered left-wing by any but American standards.
And tax cuts aren't necessarily the whole problem – again your brain can't get round the complexity. With Reagan, it was tax cuts plus increased spending.
Reagan decreased taxes and then had a huge spend up on the military, as did Bush the first, although he did to be fair increase agricultural subsidies and Medicare. But of course then he started a war and it ballooned out even more. And God help us, Bush cut taxes to avoid a surplus! Because his conservative friends thought it might lead to more government spending.
Which is interesting, because one of the actual true things your man Trump has said is that the American infrastructure is really rundown, and they could have done with a bit of that. But as I said before, that's what conservatives do they run everything down, get voted out and then blame the incoming government for all the problems associated with their cuts.
And blow me down you didn't bother explaining that the Congressional budget office thought after a bit of research anyway – something you don't bother to do – that the uptick in tax revenue from Kennedy's cuts were mostly accounted for by economic growth that would have happened anyway.
And yet you come back here day after day week after week spouting the same bullshit about other people not understanding. No wonder people like you elected Trump.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

"Actually I was simply using her highly expensive designer clothes as a pointer to how she's just another lightweight socialist who will use the ideology to attain a level of wealth that she could not in the private sector. "
Her highly expensive clothes were borrowed. Which if you bother to do anything other than brain fart at the sight of them you would have known. Not to mention that if you'd ever been to New York or Washington, you'd know that there is some really good discount shopping there. So even if she had owned them you wouldn't have a clue where she got them.
And of course because she was in nice clothes albeit borrowed, a some sort of champagne socialist. You must have psychic abilities.
And yes she's made some stupid statements, but not nearly as many as your man Trump, and I like the fact that she won't shut up because old white farts like you don't want her to speak. I'm sure that after she learns the ropes she won't be quite so outspoken.
And I must say her interrogation of Michael Cohen was pretty damn good, and even some conservatives admit that – those that aren't blind like you anyway. She certainly looked good compared to some of those conservatives who made fools of themselves on the same occasion.
Oh yeah, she's certainly got you lot scared.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

Grey... Yes it would have been nice to have a link. But I guarantee there were no lefty comments on the whale oil blog, because they're simply not allowed. Or at least they weren't before I was banned from it. I must confess that I go to these ultra right-wing blogs very often, I have a very low tolerance for being dipped in sewage.

Tom Hunter said...

as usual with conservatives you don't do complexity
And you then have the cheek to try and explain how the US House does budgets, with one of the most simple-minded explanations I've ever had the misfortune to read. The House loses nothing by rejecting a President's budget since they are already hard at work producing the detail that has to be produced anyway. It's why most Presidential budgets get voted down and ignored. No loss at all. There's no complexity to the process. At best a President might get one or two ideas picked up and included in the House-Senate budget work.

in the 1980s, the Democrats could hardly be considered left-wing by any but American standards.
A very poor deflection. You blamed GOP presidents since Reagan for blowing out deficits. I simply pointed out to you that the people responsible were the Democrats controlling the House. Whether they were "conservative" or not is immaterial to the point you were making, which is that deficits are only down to GOP Presidents, which is simple-minded, one-eyed thinking.

And the increased spending on the military, for both Reagan and Bush, paled compared to the massive and relentless increases in Social Security/Medicare/Medicaid spendng. All of those have increased both in real, nominal and % of GDP terms - by any measure you care to apply in fact - over the past 50 years. By contrast military spending has declined as a %of GDP and % of the Federal budget in the same period of time - and in terms of nominal spending (say constant $2013) is roughly where it was after the massive drop following the Korean War.

Blaming US military spending and tax cuts for the deficits is a lazy, Left-wing myth that is not supported by historical evidence. You simply do not know what you are talking about.

the uptick in tax revenue from Kennedy's cuts were mostly accounted for by economic growth that would have happened anyway.
The uptick in tax revenue was predicted by a bunch of neo-Keynesian economists (no Chicago theorists or Supply-Siders present in the JFK/LBJ circle in 1963), under any economic growth scenario, including the one that occurred.The CBO was simply applying their standard static-analysis technique, which they still do because it's politically safe, but which economists regarded as crude and unsophisticated even back then.

Certainly nobody then or since has proposed increasing tax revenue by increasing tax rates: with the top rate at 90% they really had nowhere to go. Aging, simple-minded "shake-the-tree" Lefties obviously still think that's how rates-revenue works, but nobody else does, which is why we won't be returning to 90%, or even 70% tx rates in the USA or 66% Muldoon rates here. The money would not turn up.

Tell me again about Lefties ability to deal with "complexity" compared to Righties. That insult is a hoot.

But as I said before, that's what conservatives do they run everything down,...
Most infrastructure spending is done by the states. And If you'd actually spent any time in California and Texas in the last decade you would have noticed the godawful state of infrastructure in the former and the superb facilities in the latter. California has of course been controlled by the Democrats, usually by Super-Majority so even bi-partisanship can be ditched, for two decades, while the GOP have controlled Texas.

So that's another Guerilla Surgeon myth down the tubes. I say "myth" because the word "theory" would give too much credit to your mind.

Guerilla Surgeon said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Guerilla Surgeon said...

Well Tom, condemned out of your own mouth.
"The House loses nothing by rejecting a President's budget "

The house risks a government shutdown. And how much was the last one estimated to have cost the country? And of course in the US system, Congress rarely has enough internal agreement to override a presidential veto. So while in principle they have the power and practice it doesn't work that way. Sorry to burst your bubble there. Trump's problems of course are magnified because neither the Senate nor the house actually want his stupid wall.
Now Congress does construct a budget, and they also instruct the president to present them with a budget. But the president can veto their budget at any time whereupon they have to rinse and repeat.
And of course you realise we have this Internet thing these days and I ran your arguments past a couple of Americans who actually know stuff, and the mildest criticism I got was that you were talking "sort of bullshit". Most of them weren't so kind.
And again you don't really know what you're talking about with regards to military budgets. They been reasonably consistent since World War II with of course the blips caused by the Korean War and the Cold War. But with rather large increases to pay for the Vietnam war and the wars of both Bushes and of course Reagan. Reagan's expenditure – from about 4.7% to about 6.5% of GDP. Although to be fair Bush 1 didn't increase it a great deal, but under Bush 2 it went from from about 2.9% to 4.6% of GDP.
Static analysis? Interesting isn't it because if it's so crude and simplistic, why are they still using it? Almost all economists still regarded as useful. And still in fact used by the Congressional budget office.
And blow me down the Laffer curve. That too is complex – obviously too complex for you. Bush's cut in the tax rates actually produced a decline in tax take for at least two years, and it's probable that any increase in tax take after those two years was the result of a growing economy – which of course is the norm.
Interesting that you should have course compare California and Texas. Texas which has gone through an oil boom, and California which didn't. But even so, California is thrashing Texas at the moment – even according to many Texans. And I have in fact been to both places, and I might say that I prefer the BART in San Francisco to the complete lack of public transport in Arlington, and the pretty damn spotty coverage in Houston.
I notice you didn't mention those states like Kansas under the aegis of extreme right wing nut jobs whose economies are shrinking – and where tax cuts produced huge declines in revenue.
I'll say this, you certainly have balls criticising other people for their lack of knowledge considering yours. But like most of you "righties" if you spent less time trying to think up smart putdowns and cute phrases and put more work into establishing facts you might be worth having a discussion with.
Dammit, I really must learn better editing.

Andrew Nichols said...

Stop it Mr Hubbard. Theres plenty of money in the US to fund AOCs Green Rev. A fraction of the War Machines budget will suffice abundantly and still sadly allow the US to maintain its destructive path. As an aside its interesting that her critics like you never seem to label the ever growing military budget as "unaffordible"