Nothing in politics happens by accident

In a stream-of-consciousness sequence too convoluted to recap here, I was reminded this week of my seventh grade English teacher, who would on occasion look out across the 30-or-so of us young-skulls-full-of-mush and select one to demonstrate the use of a new word in a sentence. 29 of us students would then learn by watching her chosen victim perform or flounder. One such was the young lady in the seat bolted to the front of my desk: she got inchoate, a rarely-used word none of us knew until her discomfort created whats now called a teachable moment as we flipped the pages of the dictionary. Soon we all knew that it derives from the Latin verb incohare and means incomplete. Adjectivally, it describes my work-in-progress view of Vermonts supposedly deep-blue, new-leftist political reputation. Im beginning to notice that the dominant gentry-leftism Ive written about in these columns for years eject Omya, free Tibet, shut down Vermont Yankee, build wind-towers, dont build wind-towers, stall private-sector development, intervene in Darfur, proclaim public educational excellence, dont intervene in Iraq, eat/buy local, save the polar bear, reduce the human presence, and so on notably lacks the monetary redistributionist aspect seen in real capital L, Leftism. In none of the domestic political rhetoric Ive read or heard in the last year has the phrase spread the wealth around been used. Instead, Id argue, the governance pattern in taxation, regulation, attitudes regarding economic growth, capital investment, demographic shifts, and judicial prerogative, is conducive (from the Latin conducere, to lead towards) a two-tier socio-economic model as middle-class shrinkage leaves a demographic gap between the upper income-and- political-power quintiles (and, dare I say, classes) and the lower ones. These trends may well have been set in motion by accident, as the in-migrating flower children of the 60s learned that living off the land was too hard and living off politics was easier, but after four decades of continuance and intensification it requires a willing suspension of disbelief (from the Clinton language) to think that its unintentional any more. Closer to the mark, Im beginning to think, is that current levels of, and directional trends in, taxation, regulation, demographic shifts, and so on, reflect not a Golden Dome oops, we didnt mean to create middle-class unaffordability, and now we admit our error and well fix it, velociter, (an admission never heard under the Golden Dome) but an FDR New Deal maxim explaining that nothing in politics happens by accident. If, as Im beginning to think, the upper-income and frequently trust-funder gentry-left cohort (from the Latin cohors for the tenth part of a legion) is less interested in the usual Leftist ambitions for classless and egalitarian societies (except for those in charge, of course) and more interested in evolving a markedly two-tier society where the superior are comfortably served by the (subsidized) inferior, that set of concepts doesnt preclude some more-typical-of-the-Left objective planks within the governance platform: Latest addition to a list already containing such things as single-payer health care is food distribution. Heres gubernatorial candidate Gaye Symington on the subject in her Rutland Herald op-ed dated 26 July 07: Political leadership can and must provide an overall vision for the new diversified Vermont agriculture, as well as economic resources to build its infrastructure. Why bring government into food distribution and processing? Because, explains Symington, its way to help us realize a uniquely Vermont agricultural economy whose authenticity adds value in an otherwise anonymous food system. Translated from the Montpelier-speak, thats advocacy for a taxpayer-funded, government-run beyond-the-farmgate bureaucracy to insure that the gustatory demands of ecologically-superior local-vores are suitably serviced. And who are the most vociferous localvores? Well, they sure aint, with rare exceptions, the lower-income (subsidized) and middle-income (shrinking) class cohorts. Eating local, almost by definition, means willingly paying more for the small-scale labor-intensive products of pond, meadow, and garden than for the less costly products of a despised large-scale industrial agriculture; and even an inchoate thought can comprehend that the fiscally superior quintiles can so afford more than the inferior ones. Stated differently: in a truly Leftist egalitarian-in-class-and-income society, wouldnt such expensive food specialization, and taxpayer support for it, for a self-selected few, be discouraged and indeed proscribed? Im beginning to think so, which explains why Im beginning to think that, in contrast with the usual Leftist rhetoric, Vermonts gentry-leftists are indeed sui generis. Look that one up for yourself. Former Vermonter Martin Harris lives in Tennessee.

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