Wrecking the American Dream | The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
Wrecking the American Dream
Robert Stacy McCain
by
Suburban area north of Austin (Roschetzky Photography/Shutterstock.com)

One of the basic tasks of the political Left, not only in contemporary America but on a worldwide basis ever since the French Revolution, is to identify those social institutions that are healthy and functional, then ruin them completely, and call this result “reform.” Sometimes millions of people die as a result of the Left’s appetite for “reform” (e.g., collectivization of agriculture in the Soviet Union), but always innocent people are made to suffer on behalf of the allegedly idealistic motives of the self-anointed progressive “reformers.”

Scarcely half a century ago, America’s system of higher education was the envy of the world, but that was before the Left instituted the kind of “reform” that produces unemployed Gender Studies majors saddled with tens of thousands of dollars in student-loan debt for degrees that don’t qualify them for any gainful employment. If you criticize the Left’s hegemonic influence in academia, of course, you will be accused of being “anti-intellectual,” as though leftists have a natural right to define the purpose, content, and structure of intellectual endeavor; anyone who doesn’t share the Left’s values is thereby disqualified from participation in academia. Our universities now exist not to provide young people with useful knowledge and career skills, but rather to indoctrinate them with the Left’s destructive belief system and train them to become political activists. Anyone who dissents from this agenda — even such eminent scholars as University of Pennsylvania Law Professor Amy Wax — becomes persona non grata on campus. As Thomas Sowell once remarked, “The next time some academics tell you how important diversity is, ask how many Republicans there are in their sociology department.”

Joe Biden has no clue about the Left’s agenda for America’s future because, let’s face it, the Democratic Party’s nominee has no clue about anything. Clearly in an advanced stage of senile dementia, Biden is a sock-puppet mindlessly repeating left-wing rhetoric written for him by young progressive staffers. The addled geriatric is being used as a “moderate” Trojan Horse to advance the agenda of a party whose ideological center of gravity is somewhere in a range between Nicolás Maduro and Pol Pot. Everyone can see the bait-and-switch charade Democrats are attempting to perpetrate. However, the national news media — another institution that the Left has completely ruined — are doing their darnedest to pretend not only that Joe Biden is a sentient and credible candidate for president, but that he is so overwhelmingly popular he’ll win in a landslide.

The one question the media don’t want Americans to contemplate is what will happen if indeed Landslide Joe is elected. Because the Left — that is to say, the radicals who actually control the Democratic Party, and who would be empowered by Biden’s election — has some mighty ambitious plans for “reform.” Eight years of the Obama administration failed to accomplish their goal of “fundamentally transforming the United States of America,” or else Donald Trump never could have been elected. So this time, Democrats are going finish the job. And by “finish the job” of course I mean completely ruin everything.

Consider, for example, the Biden plan to destroy suburbia. The media were busy pretending that no such plan existed until Trump blew the whistle on the Democratic Party’s proposal to abolish zoning for single-family homes.

The president announced on Twitter on June 30 that he was “studying the AFFH housing regulation” he described as “having a devastating impact” on suburbs, and declared that Biden wanted to make these regulations “MUCH WORSE.” Many were mystified by Trump’s sudden interest in housing regulations, but it appears the president was inspired by an article by Stanley Kurtz in National Review: “Biden and Dems Are Set to Abolish the Suburbs.” In his article, Kurtz explained the political significance of housing policy:

The suburbs are the swing constituency in our national elections. If suburban voters knew what the Democrats had in store for them, they’d run screaming in the other direction. Unfortunately, Republicans have been too clueless or timid to make an issue of the Democrats’ anti-suburban plans. It’s time to tell voters the truth.

I’ve been studying Joe Biden’s housing plans, and what I’ve seen is both surprising and frightening. I expected that a President Biden would enforce the Obama administration’s radical AFFH (Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing) regulation to the hilt. That is exactly what Biden promises to do. By itself, that would be more than enough to end America’s suburbs as we’ve known them, as I’ve explained repeatedly here at NRO.

What surprises me is that Biden has actually promised to go much further than AFFH. Biden has embraced Cory Booker’s strategy for ending single-family zoning in the suburbs and creating what you might call “little downtowns” in the suburbs. Combine the Obama-Biden administration’s radical AFFH regulation with Booker’s new strategy, and I don’t see how the suburbs can retain their ability to govern themselves. It will mean the end of local control, the end of a style of living that many people prefer to the city, and therefore the end of meaningful choice in how Americans can live. Shouldn’t voters know that this is what’s at stake in the election? [Emphasis added.]

You don’t have to be a housing-policy expert to be shocked by the warped thinking at the root of the radical policy that Biden has embraced. The problem in America, according to the Democrats, is not our crime-ridden inner cities (“Chicago homicides increase 50 percent in 2020, 139 percent in July alone, data shows”). No, the real problem is those folks living quietly out in the suburbs, with their three-bedroom homes, their quarter-acre lawns, and their tree-shaded cul-de-sacs. According to Democrats, it is wrong for prosperous suburbanites to enjoy their safety and tranquility, and therefore the suburbs must be destroyed.

Here is a representative quote from Biden’s housing agenda:

Exclusionary zoning has for decades been strategically used to keep people of color and low-income families out of certain communities. As President, Biden will enact legislation requiring any state receiving federal dollars through the Community Development Block Grants or Surface Transportation Block Grants to develop a strategy for inclusionary zoning, as proposed in the HOME Act of 2019 by Majority Whip Clyburn and Senator Cory Booker. Biden will also invest $300 million in Local Housing Policy Grants to give states and localities the technical assistance and planning support they need to eliminate exclusionary zoning policies and other local regulations that contribute to sprawl. [Emphasis added.]

What is “exclusionary zoning”? Well, if your local zoning ordinances prevents someone from putting a liquor store or a strip club in your neighborhood, that’s “exclusionary.” Basically any kind of zoning is “exclusionary” in some sense of that word, but what the Democrats particularly have in mind are policies that seek to prevent overcrowding by limiting the construction of multi-family housing (apartments, duplexes, townhouses, etc.). Suburban life is characterized by a pattern of low-density development — owning a single-family home on a relatively large lot is practically synonymous with “the American Dream.” But this dream would be diminished (to say nothing of your diminished property value) if just down the street from your quiet cul-de-sac neighborhood a developer were to erect a massive complex of cheap apartments. However, such high-density development is exactly what Democrats mean when they promise “affordable housing,” and if you’re living in a prosperous suburb, this is the nightmare they’re planning for your community.

This is not “reform,” it’s revenge: Democrats hate suburbia because most suburbanites vote Republican. Anyone can look at a map of the 2016 election results and figure this out. For example, Hillary Clinton got 85 percent of the vote in Baltimore, Maryland, whereas in nearby Carroll County, Trump won by 17 points. In Missouri, Hillary got 80 percent of the vote in St. Louis, but in suburban Jefferson County, Trump won by more than a 2-to-1 margin. Similar patterns could be pointed out all across the country, and Democrats have therefore embraced a policy agenda intended to punish people who live in Trump territory.

If it seems far-fetched to imagine Biden advocating a policy by which federal regulators could render your local zoning laws null and void — are Democrats really that crazy? — you may want to look at what happened in Oregon last year. In that Democrat-controlled state, the legislature rammed through a bill described as “effectively a state-wide ban on single-family zoning.” Local communities in Oregon can no longer prevent homes from being carved up into duplexes and triplexes, a measure implemented in the name of “affordable housing.”

State Rep. Tina Kotek, the Democratic speaker of Oregon’s House of Representatives, claimed the measure was about “choice,” declaring that eliminating single-family zoning would allow “different opportunities in neighborhoods that are currently extremely limited.” Some residents of those neighborhoods were less than enthusiastic about the “opportunities” the legislature imposed on them. One resident of Portland’s affluent Eastmoreland neighborhood warned the measure would “encourage wholesale redevelopment of existing neighborhoods, and the eventual elimination of most single family houses.… Tree canopy and open space will begin to rapidly disappear, as lots are built out to the absolute limits, and quality of life will plummet.”

Of course, we do not yet know whether or not such dire warnings will prove prophetic, but the point is that such destructive outcomes are now possible in Oregon, and that this is what Joe Biden and the Democrats have in mind for the rest of the country: No more local zoning commissions, no more “not-in-my-back-yard” (NIMBY) battles between neighborhood residents and greedy real-estate developers. Uncle Sam is going to take charge, and “inclusionary zoning” (whatever that means) will be imposed from sea to shining sea. And if you don’t think this a smart idea, Democrats will call you a racist. Accusations of racism are always their closing argument, no matter what the issue is.

Such was the argument of a Boston Globe editorial over the weekend, praising Obama-era housing policy as “a critical tool to address racial discrimination and segregation” and denouncing “Trump’s noxious rhetoric” as “the president’s latest appeal to racism.” If you’re living in a neighborhood of million-dollar homes and worried whether your neighbors might sell out to developers of “affordable housing,” is your mood going to be improved by having the insulting accusation of racism added to your problems? I doubt it, and if the Globe’s editors want to locate “noxious rhetoric” in this dispute, perhaps they should check their own words.

The Left enjoys playing the role of inquisitor, accusing anyone who disagrees with their “progressive” agenda of racism, greed, or some other moral failing. Such was the case with the Jacobins in France, who invented “counter-revolutionary” intrigues to blame on les ennemis du people they sent to the guillotine. In Stalin’s Soviet Union, peasant kulaks were the scapegoats demonized and slaughtered for the sake of the revolution. Now the suburban homeowner has become the kulak in the neo-Stalinist vision of our latter-day Bolsheviks as they anticipate the November triumph of Landslide Joe. All the polls tell them Biden is a shoo-in — he leads by more than seven points in the latest Real Clear Politics average — and Democrats chortle with glee imagining the humiliation they’ll inflict on those suburban Republican voters.

“Affordable housing” is the wrecking ball with which Democrats intend to destroy your tree-shaded way of life, not because they expect to derive any benefit from ruining your neighborhood, but simply because they take sadistic pleasure in destruction. We’re now three months away from Election Day, and time may be running out on the American Dream.

Robert Stacy McCain
Robert Stacy McCain
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