Liberal economic policies are consistently more successful than the conservative policies of reduced taxation and unrestrained capitalism. One need only look to the near collapse of the economy in 2008 for one of a multitude of examples from history on how liberal policies rescued the economy from the disastrous results of the conservative, free market crowd.
Conservative economic policy embraces the unrestrained capitalism that has resulted in historical as well as contemporary harm to the health of citizens. Historical products of unrestrained capitalism in the U.S. include slavery, child labor, the massive pollution of water and air. More contemporary disasters created by unrestrained capitalism include the economic catastrophes of the Great Depression and the Great Recession.
Liberal policies on taxes funded infrastructure and public education, expanded the middle class and raised the quality of life for all Americans. The Conservative economic policy of “trickle down economics,” beginning with Reagan, reversed the trend of expanding middle-class wealth, created the greatest consolidation of wealth into the top 1 percent in the history of the world, and stifled economic mobility (five socialist countries now have more economic mobility than the U.S.). If the actual results of tax policies are considered, liberals measure success by the distribution of wealth across all economic classes. Conservatives define success as the creation of wealth for 5 percent of the population. Perhaps the most immediate contrast of the two economic philosophies in our lifetime is that of Clinton and Bush. Clinton raised taxes and the result was job creation, economic growth and the first budget surplus in a generation. Bush reduced taxes and the result was stagnant job growth and the largest budget deficit since Reagan.
Over-regulation may be associated with impeding economic growth, but under-regulation is associated with catastrophic disasters. Industry might complain that EPA regulations have stifled growth (although the benefits of clean water and air cannot be denied). How much environmental regulations stifle growth is a theoretical argument, whereas the results of deregulation are undeniably catastrophic. Deregulation of the financial industry nearly destroyed the U.S., along with world economies, and it took a liberal solution of government intervention (TARP) to prevent a total collapse. Conservatives argue that government intervention and taxes only harm the economy, but that is an ideological argument not rooted in historical fact.
So, given the historical accomplishments of Liberalism, why the animus and why the muted defense from liberals? One answer is that liberals no longer have political power, or the potential for political power. Liberals have not held power in government since before Bill Clinton (who was no liberal) and will never hold power again unless a political/social revolution occurs. The reason why is that politics itself has become a marketplace and money rules. A dozen or so families and corporations now dictate the market (policy) and there is no market for ideologies other than creating more wealth for fewer people. The labels of Democrat and Republican have been rendered meaningless as far as working class Americans as concerned. They may talk differently, but in the end money talks louder. The corrupting influence of money in politics has reduced our ability to effect meaningful political change to a thin veneer of episodic elections serving only to mask the money to be made from those elections. Liberalism doesn’t have a chance … until or unless there is another catastrophe.