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Retreat from reality

03 Apr 2019 | OP ED Watch

On NBC’s apparently misnamed “Think” Steve Krakauer calls AOC “a perfect role model for millennials” not because of her fleeting online fame but because “she is walking the walk, grinding out real policy solutions in Congress. Good heavens. Are you really that detached from practical things that you regard her pie-in-the-sky proposals, paranoid rants and blaming of staffers as how practical things get done?

In his superb 1987 monograph A Conflict of Visions Thomas Sowell argued that a crucial difference between the two main philosophies of public affairs, which he calls “constrained” and “unconstrained” although “right” and “left” will do nicely too, is that the latter places far more emphasis on good intentions and far less on sound methods. As a result conservatives are far more interested in what has worked in the past and liberals in what we dream of in the future.

The result can often be a frustratingly persistent talking past one another or shouting vainly across a mental gulf. But to quote Philip K. Dick, “Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, it doesn’t go away.” And thus it is that any number of high-minded, not to say high-volume, preachers of painless transitions to alternative energy, harmonious melding of environmental and economic concerns and a future in which everyone gets everything at once find that when they achieve political power things get messy and frustrating.

It has happened to AOC, in fact, as even her colleagues are shuffling nervously away from her not despite but because of her power to get ill-informed online supporters wildly enthused about “plans” that can’t work and aren’t even coherent. That journalists would hail her as a pragmatic role model for youth only serves to raise questions about how they manage to do their own jobs on deadline.

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