The Democratic primary race has brought into relief the differences between the social democratic and liberal views of markets. Social democrats like Bernie Sanders have an unrelenting, antagonistic, belligerent, semi-paranoid attitude toward Wall Street, toward capital, toward management. They want to fight, to break up, to overthrow the established order. Liberals like Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama and Marty Nesbitt and Tony Miller don’t oppose markets so much as they want to refine them, control them, order them according to their preferences. Tame the excesses, redistribute from rich to poor, punish bad practices, encourage consumer safety. Their judgment of markets isn’t moral so much as practical. These liberals ask how do we make democratic capitalism work? And more specifically, how do we make democratic capitalism work for them?
What I love is the finery in which they cloak their self-promotion and ambition, their quest for money and status and power, the way they pretend their billion-dollar acquisition of a company whose revenues derive from taxpayers and whose existence they lamented and sought to restrict is a valiant attempt at education reform, a noble exercise to rectify past wrongs, a sacrifice on behalf of working adults, a last-ditch attempt to save an industry’s soul, when all they are doing is exploiting connections and Marty Nesbitt’s status as the president’s best friend. And they call the University of Phoenix a racket.