No matter where you get your news from, American politics are viewed as an endless struggle between good and evil. It’s easy to blame the other side. For many Democrats, it’s obvious that Republicans thwart progress towards a perfect society.
But what happens when Republicans aren’t standing in the way?
In 18 states, Democrats control all levers of power, holding a majority in both the executive and legislative branches. They run the government, in fact, they are the government. But, in key respects, many blue states are doing worse than the mindless administrations of their conservative counterparts.
In the quintessential liberal state that is California, it’s hard to overlook the sunshines and avocados when the average price of a house in the Bay Area is $788,679 dollars. A cornerstone of an equal society, affordable housing should be built in every neighborhood. Refraining access to high-quality public services, education, and mental health facilities are a permanent disadvantage to children growing up in such neighborhoods. Democrats agree with me. In fact, housing is mentioned over 100 times in the 2020 Democratic Party Platform, a document discussing the exact end goal for the progressive party. They even say verbatim, “Housing in America should be stable, accessible, safe, healthy, energy efficient, and above all affordable.” Now, what exactly does California do when it comes to housing?
The Californian government hardly attempts to build affordable housing, and it is nowhere near sufficient to keep up with California’s ever growing population.
Throughout California, there are entire cities claiming to be progressive, liberal, and innovative. Driving around my neighborhood, I see lawn signs emphasizing the importance of democracy and equality, but where is the affordable housing? The homogeneity of single family suburbs is a reaction to the rejection of duplexes and higher density housing. In 2013, the Palo Alto City Council passed Measure D, offering to build a 60 unit complex made specifically for the elderly. The complex was intended to be built on 567 – 595 Maybell Ave. Instead of proceeding with the project, the seemingly liberal Palo Alto population pushed to overturn the legislation. The petition worked. Now, if I was to drive to this plot of land, I would see only a few houses, all built for single families and each worth 5.1 million dollars. Local politician Bob Moss said, “If you want to keep Palo Alto the kind of neighborhood and community that we all treasure – low intensity, low density, safe for kids to walk to school – you’ve got to vote against Measure D.”
The hypocrisy doesn’t just stop in California. Democrats are constantly crying for a wealth tax in America. Rightfully so, for decades, the rich and powerful have taken advantage of the United States economic system, yielding extreme concentration of wealth at the very top and producing dysfunctional economic outcomes. However, of the top ten states with the most exacerbated tax inequality, three are states with complete Democratic control. Number one being the famously “progressive” Washington (ITEP.org, “Impact of State and Local Tax Systems on Income Inequality”).
The Democratic Party’s inability to do anything continues. When Joe Biden was sworn in January 20, the Democrats had control of the presidency, Senate, and House of Representatives for the first time in over a decade. After a strong start with the American Rescue Plan, the Democrats have puttered forward, slowly losing momentum and now appearing at a standstill. One potential explanation for this is what can be called “The Iron Law of Institutions,” that people within institutions like the Democratic Party are primarily interested in maintaining power inside the institution, rather than the institution’s overall success. People living and professing liberal values do not seem to take positions that are consistent with such values. Especially considering that conservatives go to great lengths to overturn or attempt a less liberal America. Democrats don’t take nearly as much effort as their right-wing adversaries.