So why, in the era of individualization, is the American political left still selling top-down mandatory standardization in everything from health insurance to local electricity generation? When nearly every thriving national brand succeeds by empowering Americans to seek and achieve different results, only the Democratic Party is peddling redistribution and a system that on its best day generates only mushy mediocrity.
Liberal statism is not only detached from the individualist ethic that drives this century’s Americans, it is locked into its detachment by incurable pessimism. Democrats cannot abandon redistributionist policies without accepting that Americans, working hard by their own damn selves with tools they’ve been given by a power far greater than a federal agency, can cross class lines and become financially secure. The left not only needs pessimism, it is defined by pessimism.
There will be times when pessimism, and its nasty cousin envy, will be enough of a tag team to win national elections even in this age of individual innovation — especially when we as Republicans fumble as we did in 2012 and present ourselves as the economic class that demands to be envied.
Those exceptions notwithstanding, the trajectories of the two political movements relative to the arc of our culture are clear. The top-down national policy party bears more resemblance to the Oldsmobile while the bottom-up individual freedom party has a chance to ably represent the App Generation.
Brad Todd is a Republican ad-maker, strategist and founding partner of the advertising and opinion research agency OnMessage Inc.