The Magical Thinking of Far Left Political Journalism

The name Walker Bragman sounds more like it would be, say, that of a rich person from the Hamptons, than a socialist political journalist. But both of those things are true, it turns out, though I would put the journalist in scare quotes. Walker Bragman describes himself as a contributor to The Daily Poster and Jacobin magazine, and has over 47,000 followers on Twitter. Here are couple of real tweets from him from a week ago:

Dems are about a month into controlling the House, Senate, and presidency and they haven’t delivered relief they said would be immediate. They haven’t abolished ICE or closed the detention facilities. They haven’t ended U.S. support for genocide or apartheid…

They haven’t established universal health care or forgiven student debt. They haven’t created a federal jobs guarantee or universal basic income. And I have very little faith that this stuff is coming down the road.

There are so many issues there.

Democrats are continuing to work on the relief he is referencing, but creating large-scale legislation takes some time, something you know, a political journalist would presumably know.

Many of those other things mentioned are ones that President Biden, and many other Democrats as well, has been against. The abolishing ICE portion is particularly odd since that was a big thing for a hot minute in 2018 and then left the stage. In 2018, when House Republicans suggested having a vote on legislation from three progressive Democratic members, those members said they would vote against their own legislation. President Biden’s Homeland Security Secretary said during his confirmation hearings in January that he wouldn’t. Again, these are things that a political journalist should know.

In the face of public opposition from Democrats, why would a political journalist think that there was any “faith” that those things would be coming? That could be read as a joke or as satire, but he seemed to making a genuine statement there.

When someone pointed that President Biden hadn’t run on this stuff, but asks anyway how it could have been done in a month, he responded with this:

Much of this — not all of it — could be done through executive order.

One reply to that was this:

Very child-like thinking. Magical thinking, even. Do you think EOs manifest into operation with the signature? This proves you are naïve.

The claim that at least some of that could be done by executive order isn’t just something that Walker Bragman made up. For example, you can find people on Twitter saying that President Biden can enact Medicare for All by executive order. That is something that you might think that Senator Bernie Sanders or some similar figure would have mentioned by now if true. Of the mentions of it that I ran across, when a source was cited for that claim, it ultimately came back to an article written by far left journalist David Dayen in the American Prospect, which he is also the executive editor of. The article makes a case for this being true, but doesn’t cite any legal source that backs the argument, and also states the statue being referenced to justify the claim wasn’t designed to do be used that way. I liked David Dayen’s book Monopolized, but it doesn’t make him look to be the executive editor of a publication that would run an article making a claim like that without any more than a journalist argument, much less to have been the writer of it.

When it comes to those on the far left claiming that there are simple solutions to avoid the difficult issues that come with legislating, a lot of it can be explained, I think, by the type of populism that defines it these days. But much of it also has the impact of allowing the far left to criticize Democrats and ignore Republicans. There were quite few prominent far left people that seem to be anti-anti-Trump, Walker Bragman, for example wrote an article in 2016, “A liberal case for Donald Trump“.

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