Politics & Policy

Democrats Save the World?

At the DNC convention, Sixties radicals are still truckin' -- and promoting failed ideas from the seventies.

With the official events at the Democratic National Convention taking place just across the street, a hundred or so members of the “Network of Spiritual Progressives” are packed into a hotel room discussing their current plan to save the world.

True to form, the event began with bad folk music followed by a prayer. Not just any prayer, but a prayer by John Dear. According to his official bio, the Roman Catholic priest has been arrested 75 times “because he so fervently believes in peace.” Father Dear declares he is a Jesuit, “but don’t hold that against me,” he adds.

#ad#How fervently does he believe in peace? “Take a deep breath and breathe in that holy spirit of peace . . . and breathe out that holy spirit of peace,” he prays. “God of peace, way of peace, peace. Thank you for all the blessings of peace that you give us . . . encourage us to do your work of peace and justice and disarmament. Help us end poverty and starvation and relieveable [sic] disease and end the war in Iraq and Afghanistan and Palestine and all of our wars and abolish the death penalty and torture and all our nuclear weapons. And help us enact a Global Marshall Plan to feed the world’s poor and justice and peace to all our sisters and brothers.”

So, uh, peace. Got it. But while you can hardly blame a priest for praying for an end to war, they (thankfully) don’t usually pray for specific pieces of legislation. While the “spiritual progressives” gathered here in Denver for DNC convention are every bit as spacey their name suggests, their “Global Marshall Plan” is for real. The Global Marshall Plan — a.k.a. House Resolution 1078 — has 20 Democratic co-sponsors in Congress.

So you may ask, what is the Global Marshall Plan and how does it promise to bring about peace? According to Rep. Keith Ellison, “House Resolution 1078 recognizes that lasting security for America will be best achieved through policies of generosity and caring toward the rest of the world.” All America has to do is dedicate “1%-2% of the GDP each year for the next 20 years toward once and for all eliminating domestic and global poverty, homelessness, hunger, inadequate education, inadequate health care, and repairing the environment of the planet.”

Once and for all? And to think no one had figured out sooner that we could merely legislate the human condition out of existence. Of course, collecting the money is only half the battle. Once we confiscate the necessary funds, according to the NSP’s helpful 32-page booklet on the Global Marshall Plan, all we have to do is “create an international, unbiased, nongovernmental agency for receiving the funds . . . and distributing them in a way that is environmentally sensitive, respectful of native cultures, safeguarded against corruption, protected from manipulation to serve elite interests, and empowering people in each region.”

Right. So what would such an unassailable international authority look like? “This agency or mechanism should be governed by a board of ethicists, religious leaders, artists, writers, social theorists, philosophers, economists, scientists, and social-change activists, all of whom have demonstrated in the ways that they have lived their lives and conducted their public affairs that they give higher priority to the well-being of others than the well-being of the corporate or wealthy elite.”

Why didn’t anyone think of this before? We can just round up a council of wise men and be done with the whole business of politics! It’s also good to know that philosophers, artists, and social theorists are ranked ahead of those charlatans who call themselves “economists.” How soon can we do a voice vote on this thing and move on to, in the words of the plan’s architect, Rabbi Michael Lerner, “a different way of thinking, a different consciousness.”

It makes perfect sense that Lerner would be behind something so supremely naïve. A sixties leftover who once headed the Berkeley chapter of the radical Students for a Democratic Society, Rabbi Lerner is to Judaism what Barney Fife is to law enforcement.

He leads a synagogue in San Francisco, but Lerner is notable as the driving force behind Tikkun, a left-wing bimonthly that reads less like a magazine and more a paean to Lerner’s considerable ego. The latest issue contains no less than four articles bylined by Lerner, and an interview with Lerner on “Jewish History, Israel-Palestine, and the Psychodynamics of Healing.”

But since he’s here at the DNC pushing his inane foreign policy ideas, here’s to hoping that he’s pushing his political strategy suggestions as well. In the latest issue of Tikkun, in an article titled “Election 2008: Why is it Close?” Lerner concludes “there is another factor operating that dares not speak its name: RACISM.”

His solution for helping Barack Obama put the election away? “Imagine the cultural impact if tens of thousands of Obama activists were to volunteer the month of October to go door to door in the contested states and ask people to discuss the issue of racism!” (Dear Barack Obama — Please heed Michael Lerner’s advice. — Sincerely, John McCain)

While Lerner and his ilk are hardly representative of the average Democrat, it certainly is revealing that the DNC convention should serve as an incubator for his pernicious policy nonsense. Democrats are using the spotlight in Denver to insist that the country is center left, rather than center right. But as long as Rabbi Lerner and nearly a tenth of the Democrats in the House of Representatives are pushing the “Global Marshall Plan,” that’s going to be a very difficult argument to make.

– Mark Hemingway is an NRO staff reporter.

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