What the Obamas and Jarrett represent as a the ideal modern liberal throuple is the logical end point of the rent-seeking and regulatory capture necessary when government enters into an unending quid pro quo dance with major institutions. The populist rhetoric deployed by the original progressives against the unchecked power of corporate entities and elites and the need for government to step in to the gap ignored the way these processes actually play out. Obamacare’s essence was branded as empowering people, but of course, in practice it actually empowered major entities in the health care industry. A bill that was supposed to help people is also about funding hospital consolidation, the pharmaceutical industry, insurance companies, and a host of for- and non-profits. The largesse of government takes from the taxpayer and expects something in return – namely, that these large institutions will bend to the will of the powerful, in return for protection from risk.

A few months back, in a piece for Commentary, I wrote: “History may ultimately consider Obama’s 2008 nomination as a representation not of progressivism’s resurgent appeal, but as its death rattle—a speed bump along the way to the Democratic Party’s becoming a fully corporatist, Clinton-owned entity. In practice, the party now resembles a protection racket with an army of volunteers, with friends who never suffer and enemies who never relax. And who are those enemies? Not big business or Wall Street, which has paid their way to new alliances; not America’s insurers, whose products Democrats have made it illegal not to buy; not privacy-challenging government, which Obama has expanded to unprecedented degrees. No, the only enemies who really matter to today’s Democratic Party are those wayward intolerant social-policy traditionalists with their un-American views of religious liberty.”