Lately, here in the United States, we have witnessed an astonishing socio-economic trifecta which tells us where we stand. Unfortunately for progressive thought, we are not in a good place, to wit—
1. In the McCutcheon decision, wealthy campaign donors were given the go-ahead to buy political candidates and elections by the "conservative" majority on the Supreme Court. This decision follows on the heels of the Citizens United ruling, which got the ball rolling vis-a-vis dismantling the 1974 Federal Election Campaign Act. The court's four liberal justices understood the consequences.
In their dissent, the court's four liberal justices called their colleagues' logic "faulty" and said it "misconstrues the nature of the competing constitutional interests at stake." The dissent continues, "Taken together with Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, today's decision eviscerates our Nation's campaign finance laws, leaving a remnant incapable of dealing with the grave problems of democratic legitimacy that those laws were intended to resolve."
Unfortunately for democratic legitimacy...
2. A Princeton/Northwestern study found that there isn't any democratic legitimacy to defend in so far as "the preferences of the average American appear to have only a minuscule, near-zero, statistically non-significant impact upon public policy." The study found that policy in the United States is created at the behest of an economic elite.
And we have recently learned just how small that elite group is...
3. The work of University of California-Berkeley economists Emmanuel Saez, Gabriel Zucman and others has recently come to the attention of our mainstream media. It turns out the Occupy folks got it wrong. It wasn't the top 1% of earners which posed a problem for democratic legitimacy. It was the top 0.1%, and within that smaller group, the top 0.01% who received most of the income gains of the last 30 years. And with the publication Thomas Piketty's Capital In The 21st Century, those paying attention have come to understand that the grotesque inequities of 19th century capitalism will likely be repeated in the 21st.
All these events or findings are of a piece. Taken together, they document the ongoing failure of the classic liberalism which dominated 20th century economic thinking.
The progressive dream dies hard, but before I get to that, permit me to pound the final nails into the liberal coffin.