McCotter on Democrats, Identity Politics, Socialism, and Kid Rock

American Greatness contributor and former Congressman Thaddeus McCotter joined AG publisher, Chris Buskirk, last week on The Seth and Chris Show to discuss—among many other things—”Why Socialism Blows.” Have a listen:

Chris Buskirk:   Hi, I’m Chris Buskirk, he is Seth Liebsohn, welcome back to the Seth and Chris Show, final hour of the final day of the week, hope you are having a good Friday afternoon. Hope you’re going to enjoy the weekend. We’re gonna try and help you ease into that weekend. We’re joined by Congressman Thaddeus McCotter, he is a five term congressman from Michigan.

Thaddeus McCotter:   Not anymore, man. Not anymore.

Buskirk:  Well, I said were, I think I had my tense right.

McCotter:  Huh?

Buskirk:   I think I had my tense right. Didn’t I say “were?”

McCotter:   No, no, no. I got a …

Buskirk:    You were a, you were a congressman, now you have reformed. You’re recovering.

McCotter:   I’ve been promoted back to sovereign citizen.

Buskirk:  Are you Macomb County?

McCotter:  No, no, no, the other side.

Buskirk:  Wayne?

McCotter:   West. Wayne County, yeah. Wayne County, where I live, and then I had south west Oakland County.

Buskirk:    Well I don’t know if you’ve seen this, Thad, or not, but Hillary has very book come out, called What Happened, and Amazon is accused of slashing over, I’m reading the headline, of slashing 900 negative reviews of her book off of the website, have you been on Amazon filling out a bunch of negative reviews on What Happened?

McCotter:    No, I’ve been trying to get positive reviews for my new novel Nain Rouge Blues. Yeah, I’m not buying her book, I pretty much have an idea, it’s everybody’s fault but hers.

Buskirk:    Yup, you just saved everybody 30 bucks, and I don’t know how many hours of reading it, that’s it.

McCotter:   I forgot, I should’ve said, “Spoiler alert.” I would be … it would be very disheartening to think Amazon would be doing that, ’cause the whole purpose of the internet is free expression, really. Communication between individuals however …

Buskirk:   That’s so 1990’s. Didn’t you know now it’s all about controlling our thoughts and what we think and say?

McCotter:    Yeah, well good luck with that. Free people don’t like that. And I mean I understand that the owner of Amazon also has the Washington Post, and a big, fat CIA contract, but I’m not a conspiracy theorist. I can’t imagine that he would care that Hillary’s getting bad reviews. Do you, really, Chris? That doesn’t sound like them at all.

Buskirk:   No, it is purely a coincidence. I’m sure that the things have nothing to do with one another.

McCotter:   Well it’s nice to know 900 people … well, the good news and the bad news is, 900 people bothered to put a bad review of what is a patently a bad book. But the sad part is, is that some of them might’ve actually paid for it.

Buskirk:   God, I hope not. I can’t imagine paying for that book. There’s a … I don’t know if you saw this, there was circulating on Twitter a couple of days ago, there’s a picture where somebody’s taken copies of that book, like it looks like it’s in a Barnes and Nobles, and has lined all the shelves with the book and with the four or five shelves up and down and then all the way down as far as you can see, and it says, “A picture of what hell looks like.”

McCotter:   Well, no, I mean, it’s not that bad because no one’s forcing you to read it. And hell you would be forced to actually take it off the shelf, pay for it, open it and read it all the way through and memorize it.

Buskirk:   That sounds-

McCotter:   She’s … what everybody forgets, and I personally, I think it’s great that she’s out there, because everybody’s … the media, obviously, but everyone seems to be missing that there is an intense civil war within the Democratic Party between the establishment, represented by Hillary Clinton, and the Sanders regressive wing, which is the socialist wing. And they’re going at it tooth and nail, tooth and nail. A lot of those 900 bad reviews that may have been axed by Amazon are not all coming from right wingers. Those, I bet, are a lot of Sander’s people in there, too.

Buskirk:   Yeah, that’s what interesting is … actually I was reading, I actually did this, this falls under, “What I read so other people don’t have to.”, I was actually reading part of Hillary’s book, and the part that dealt with Sanders, it is fascinating. She’s just mad at him, cannot imagine why he did not rally around the flag when she won the nomination and didn’t go all in for her, and I’m thinking, “Oh gee, I don’t know, maybe it’s because he knew that you and the DNC and Debbie Wassermann Schultz had cheated during the primaries to make sure that he couldn’t win.” And, I don’t know, maybe he thought that was wrong in some way, and that he didn’t want to support her for to the hilt afterwards.

McCotter:   Yeah, and it glosses over the fact that there are stark divided within the Democratic Party over which direction to go, which policies to pursue. To say that somehow Sanders was doing this as a personal pique against her, is absolutely wrong, he does, like it or not, sincerely believe in his socialist principles and putting them in front of the country and so do his supporters, and their democrats. So for her to try to pretend that this was somehow personal rather than political or philosophical within their party is a great disservice to not only Mr. Sanders, but to anybody who cares to see where the Democratic Party wants to go and take America with it.

Buskirk:   How do you see the divide in the Democrat Party? What are the factions?

McCotter:   Well I think you have your traditional business oriented business government liberals that don’t mind nosing up the business and expanding the social welfare state. The identity politics runs through, and obviously the redistributionist principles is pretty much all that unites them, then you have the Sanders wing that takes everything to an extreme and truly believes in socialism, largely because they never experienced it or open any book, Hillary’s or others, that would explain to them why this is bad for them and for America.

Buskirk:   And then those are … that, you think, is the two factions you’ve got the, basically the Sanders people on the one side and that’s Sanders on the one side and Clinton on the other?

McCotter:   Well I don’t personalize it like that, it’s basically establishment versus the progressives, and it’s a spectrum. And really the old Bill Clinton coalition of centrist Democrats is gone. It’s gone, even the establishment Democrats really are much further left than the Clintonites …

Buskirk:   Much further, I agree.

McCotter:   Yeah, and they scoop Jackson Democrats. Good luck finding one of those today, let alone the Truman Kennedy Democrat.

Buskirk:   Do you remember a book that came out in 2002 called The Emerging Democratic Majority?

McCotter:   I remember hearing about it, but again, not being in Hell, I didn’t bother to read it.

Buskirk:   It was a big book on the left, but it also influenced a lot of Republican strategists, it was written by John Judis and Ruy Teixeira, and basically the thesis was this, was that demographics will drive the country to the left because it kind of says, as the country becomes less white and less Christian, it becomes more leftist.

McCotter:   Yeah, but one of the reasons I didn’t read the thing was because that premise itself is inherently prejudicial, isn’t it? It makes assumptions about individuals based upon identity politics is repugnant to me.

Buskirk:   Yeah, no, that’s right.

McCotter:   Every individual is unique with a mind of their own, man. And just ’cause I’m … if I’m born one way doesn’t mean I think one way.

Buskirk:   Yeah, that’s right, and here’s why I bring it up, is because John Judis, one of the two authors, he’s published something in The New Republic yesterday and recanted. Said it basically makes at least part of the point that you just made, but he … here’s how he describes the divide, ’cause he’s writing as a man of the Left, he’s a Democrat, he’s a leftist, he’s self-identified. And he says this, here’s how he describes the split within the democrat party, he says, “On the one side you have populaces like Bernie Sanders and Rust Belt Democrats like Representative Tim Ryan of Ohio who argued that the party lost 2016 by neglecting working class voters while catering primarily to identity politics. On the other side there’s an equally vocal contingent that makes the opposite case that the democrats will blow it in 2018 and 2020 if they take voters of color for granted and focus their energy on wooing the white voters who backed Trump.”

This same group, these people, and he talks about a guy named Steve Phillips at the Center for American Progress who represents those people, he wrote a new book called Brown is the New White, he represents the identity politics group and he says, this guy says this, he says, “Trying to woo the working class is a fool’s errand,” this is what Phillips says, he says, “The Democrat Party must be race conscious and not race neutral or colorblind.” Those are his quotes.

McCotter:   Yeah, but Judis still hasn’t really retracted it, he’s saying they’re stirring up identity politics, it’s still-

Buskirk:   No. No, you have to read further down, it’s a long, long article.

McCotter:   Yeah, but he … but look, to say that Sanders and Tim Ryan, and the working class voters and everybody, just … he didn’t use the word socialism, did he? So here he is waxing over the fact that the Democratic Party, the Sanders wing wants to have socialism, and somehow working class America all want socialism because it’s for the best interest of them all is insane. It shows that he has no idea how to win working class voters or any American voters, and the cap, again, your birth determines your station and thoughts in life is inherently bigoted. In fact, I’m not angry, I’m heartened by the fact that they have no idea what they’re talking about. I just resent the fact that they don’t get called out for being bigots. I want you to try and think about if someone, a conservative wrote a book that in any way said the way your born is determinative of the way you will think and behave in life. What do you think would happen to them? Let alone advocate it as a political strategy.

Buskirk:   Yeah, this is the point. He actually does make a point similar to that, which surprised me later on in the piece and he says this, he says … and he’s a social scientist, so he looks at, he’s looking at these trends, he’s saying you can’t do it because people don’t think that way about themselves. Maybe get an immigrant group, you know, Koreans or something, it doesn’t matter what, who think of themselves self-consciously as being X, in the first generation, but as time goes by, they just think of themselves as Americans. And that I think is heartening. I found this article interesting, primarily because of who’s writing it. If it was … it’s not something I generally agree with because of a lot of the criticisms you’re making, but somebody on the left, who maybe is seeing that, maybe there’s a little hope for some of them to …

McCotter:   No, it’s bad news for the Left that Americans identify as American.

Buskirk:   Yes. That, right.

McCotter:   I would agree with that.

Buskirk:   Right, exactly right. We’re gonna run to a break, we’ll be right back with more of Thaddeus McCotter, a former Congressman from Michigan.

I am Chris Buskirk, he is Seth Leibsohn, welcome back to the Seth and Chris show, we are joined by Congressman, former Congressman Thaddeus McCotter of Wayne County Michigan. He is also a contributor to American Greatness, Thad you’ve got a new piece going up, we’re gonna publish it tomorrow. And reading it, I don’t know, people might be surprised to find out you’re not a huge fan of socialism.

McCotter:  No, you know, call me crazy.

Buskirk:  You’ve finally come out.

McCotter:   Well, I’m always been an obstinate individual, bucking the tides of history. But look, man, show me where it’s worked and don’t say Sweden, ’cause look man, there’s got the highest suicide rate in the world, I mean, there’s got to be something going wrong. Plus, in the United States, it seems to me that the most free and prosperous country in the world seems to want to go … do you really want to change horses in mid-stream these days? Let’s give this a shot, it worked so well for Stalin and Brezhnev but we can do it the right way. That’s insane. It’s nuts. And the problem is that sometimes when you argue with socialist or against socialism, people drift in, conservatives especially drift into that abstract realm and talking points that inhabit the political world. Keep it in the real world, man. You know, Chris, I mean, you want to know why socialism doesn’t work, and I say it in the piece, my number one exhibit, people don’t like to merge, man.

Buskirk:   Right.

McCotter:   Have you noticed that?

Buskirk:    I have noticed. It’s called human nature.

McCotter:   Okay, so now you tell me, yeah so people who don’t like to merge, are you gonna sit there and say, yeah, take my stuff and give it to somebody else, man. It’s the right thing to do.

Buskirk:   I actually really like that part of your piece, because that’s right, that brings it to where people live. People don’t like to merge. But this is the leftist project, right, which is … it is to pretend human nature isn’t real, or that it can be remade in the image of whatever they want.

McCotter:   Whatever the legislator and his chosen elite decide to make it per Rousseau, a fortunate citizenry which has this cat, choose them to remake and drag it back to the primitive state of nature. It’s all insane. One of the great things that people miss is that the Left is not progressive, it is regressive because Rousseau is the root of leftist ideology, and Rousseau was a rejection of the Enlightenment, a rejection of the constraining corrupting forces of civilization. He wanted to go backwards to this illusory paradise that existed before people actually said hello and shook hands. So to me, one of the things about socialism I find fascinating is, it’s taking you backward. It isn’t the wave of the future, it’s the failed past and we can’t gloss over the way that it’s failed. But I’ll tell you what, next time you think you want socialism, sit in traffic and tell me it’s ever possible. And you know, ironically, conservatives stuck in a traffic congestion can take heart because if nobodies merging, you know socialism isn’t imminent.

Buskirk:   Yeah, right, we like to say, oh you want socialism, go to Venezuela, or look at Venezuela, we don’t have to go that far off field.

McCotter:   Drive the 405. California.

Buskirk:   Right. Or whatever you … or here, the 101, or the 51, we’ve got it here, too.

McCotter:   Hey, it’s a beltway at three or four o’clock in the afternoon out there, Mr. Senator who wants socialism. Maybe Bernie’s got a driver, I don’t know, but you would think that … Well take taxation. You want to argue tax rates, you want to argue socialism and exorbitant tax rates, no, no, no. Money’s fungible. So just ask somebody, “Hey dude, do you want somebody walking up your driveway, sneaking off with your SUV all in the name of social justice?” No. You’d be like, “Get away from my SUV, you weasel.” Instead, in the theoretical political world, oh everybody wants to help everybody out, so they’ll all give and share, it’s like, no. No. Because when you raise my taxes, that means I can’t get the SUV, which is the same as you coming in my driveway and taking it and giving it to somebody else, isn’t it?

Buskirk:    Yeah.

McCotter:   Would you let somebody do that?

Buskirk:    Yeah, you want to see if people are naturally drawn to socialism or not, here’s another one for you. Try going to the produce section of any grocery store, right? When you go and pick out your bananas or your lettuce or whatever, you’re just picking them at random so that everybody has an equal shot, or are you trying to find the best ones?

McCotter:   Dude, dude. One day every year should be called Socialism Blows Day. You know what day it is? Black Friday. Black Friday is Socialism Blows Day in America. Because I’m telling you no one’s stepping aside going, you’re right, my friend, you have it worse than me, you grab that bargain at TJ Maxx.

Buskirk:   There’s one thing that you can always count on for Black Friday to be on the front of Drudge all day and into the next day, and that is links to videos of the violence at Walmarts when they open the doors.

McCotter:   Yeah, people want bargains, man. People want to pursue their happiness, enjoy the fruits of their labor, and enhance the hearth and home. And nobody, now we are a compassionate country, we have a social safety net, but, but, the problem is become when people feel that they are absolutely, utterly, entitled to other people’s money. Now, setting aside the Ten Commandments, one of which tells you thou shall not covet thy neighbor’s goods, which seems to be the premise of the modern Democratic Party. That’s for another day. When you start to think about it, the country is being taken advantage of. We want to help the most vulnerable. We want to help those who can’t help themselves. We want people to have the inherent dignity of self-reliance that comes with the ability to go out and pursue your happiness and earn your own way. And to help other people. But when you sit there and you turn it into class envy and hatred, and the coveting of other people’s goods, you have socialism, you have the regressive left. And listen to how hateful they sound when they discuss these things. They’re not talking about a compassionate country. If you look at the social safety net that is currently in place, you cannot call the United States a callous, indifferent nation.

Buskirk:   Yeah, no, not hardly. And you’re right, people do want to be compassionate to those who cannot work, and yet there’s wisdom required because we look at the bible and Paul also told us, he who does not work, neither shall he eat, so there’s responsibility that’s required, too. So how do we inculcate and educate people to be responsible citizens. Not just citizens in the broad sense, civically minded, but just being able to take care of themselves.

McCotter:    Well I don’t know that you have to educate a whole lot of people. What you have to do is stop telling them otherwise.

Buskirk:   That’s right. That’s exactly the point.

McCotter:   ‘Cause people intrinsically, people know you cannot empower an individual by making them dependent, alright? And I’ll tell you what, don’t …

Buskirk:   Don’t miseducate them.

McCotter:   Yeah, you know what Chris, you what would be really cool? Is if you could drag members of Congress and take them out of Washington, and drag them in to a place that has mixed the best of the free market with the best of compassionate America and found a way to help those in need. You know where the members of Congress need to be dragged? They need to be dragged to a thrift store. Salvation Army, Goodwill. These thrift stores are designed so that people who want to get a bargain, and want to enhance their hearth and home, can still give the money to help the poor people. Right? This is perfect. It’s a perfect mix of the free market and compassionate America. And the poor and the deserving are helped. So I think that would be very instructive in formulating public policy to ensure they don’t ensnare people in a soul crushing cycle of dependency. But instead, use what is best about America to help those who cannot currently help themselves.

Buskirk:   Your constituents must of loved you. ‘Cause you speak common sense.

McCotter:   Oh, it depends on who you ask.

Buskirk:    Well they did vote for you a lot of times. But yeah-

McCotter:    Some did, and some enjoyed voting against me and went through a great deal of delight themselves.

Buskirk:    And this was maybe before the rise of Twitter, so you didn’t have people constantly barraging you with all the free floating thoughts about you.

McCotter:    I was there just in time to catch the wave of the social media revolution and it drowned me.

Buskirk:    Do you have time for one more?

McCotter:   Yeah, one more.

Buskirk:   Alright, let’s do one more segment. Thaddeus McCotter’s our guest, we’ll be right back with more of the Seth and Chris show.

Sing along if you know the words, this is the Seth and Chris Show, Thad, I’ll bet you know every one of the lyrics to this song.

McCotter:   No comment.

Buskirk:   I’ve hope you’ve noticed as usual we’ve got our Detroit selection of bumper music.

McCotter:    I know, I know, I appreciate the Kid Rock was nice. He’s been getting protested out here by the professional left …

Buskirk:   Well I was gonna ask, because I noticed that he did a sold out show in Grand Rapids a few days ago and that right after that he was protested and there was some of these, as you say, some of these professional protesters wanting the promoter of the venue to cancel his … what is it, 6 nights sold out?

McCotter:    Yes, 6 nights, sold out. He was the first act ever at the new Little Caesar’s arena, which replaces our old hockey arena. It’s actually a multipurpose arena, Little Caesar’s arena, it’s hockey and-

Buskirk:   Does that replace the Joe Lewis arena?

McCotter:   Yeah, they’re replacing it. And so Kid Rock was, being from Detroit, and being able to sell out six shows was the first act, so really what the contretemps about Kid Rock show, is that the Left is scared to death that he can win the Senate race.

Buskirk:   They should be. I think they should be. What do you think?

McCotter:   Well, oh yeah, they should be. But what they should do is not incite him to become more political and run for the thing.

Buskirk:   I know, let the sleeping dog lie. Not that he shows like he’s sleeping. What’s your feel for it, or what do you … you’re on the ground there in Michigan, what do you think, will he run?

McCotter:   He hasn’t said no. And people increasingly seem to believe he’s serious about it, which I’ve always believed he’s serious about it. But as I said before, because I like him, I can’t encourage him to run for the U.S. Senate, can you imagine what a letdown that’d be after the glamorous world of rock and roll to sit in the senate with a somnambulist sitting next to you? Snoring away?

Buskirk:   Well that’s the question. Do you want to give up being Kid Rock to go be Senator Rock? I don’t know.

McCotter:   Oh, he’d be great. Never a dull moment, but the reality of it is … it’s a little easier I would think for him in the Senate, because people forget that the U.S. House, you know how this works. Everybody thinks that going to congress is all glamorous. But I always used to tell people, if you go to opening night on Broadway, everything looks wonderful, you watch the actors and actress and you say to yourself, wow that would be so great to be them. But you don’t show the failed auditions, you don’t know the shin splints of the background dancers, and you don’t show the politics that goes on to get the role, and you don’t show the grind of the travel once it goes off Broadway, or the day in and day out hard work that goes into putting it on. The U.S. House is an assembly line, man. It’s a grinding, grueling, every two years you gotta do your job and hopefully get re-elected. You gotta raise the money, put the time in with the constituents. People forget this, so when they get all starry eyed and looking at it as a glamorous profession, it’s quite a shock to their system …

Buskirk:   No, it’s hard work. It is hard, thankless work.

McCotter:   Yeah. The Senate is a little easier because it’s every six years, you have time to get acclimated before you gotta really kick in the campaign. There’s fewer of you, it’s easier to get some things done, or at least to stop them, I should say. And it’s just a different type of setting, but it’s still very hard work. I know it’s fun to call them lazy bums and all that, it’s true to a certain extent, but they do work, and they have to work to stay there or they get weeded out real quick, proven ineffective and are no longer elected by their constituents.

And mentally, as you kidded me in the last segment, in the age of the communications revolution, every member of Congress is a target 24/7 for people who don’t like them. You can be yelled at by people half way across the globe on vacation, while they’re sitting down on a park bench in Berlin, upset, that you might decide to oppose DACA. You, know. D-A-C-A.

Buskirk:   Right.

McCotter:   No where you’re a target 24/7, man.

Buskirk:   Yeah, when it comes to Kid Rock, I don’t worry about his work ethic, this is a guy who has demonstrated a significant work ethic in the public eye for a very long time, and the question is, is this the place where he wants to put his energies for the next six years? It’s tough.

McCotter:   It’s not just physical. It’s the whole mental aspect of going into … if you’re Kid Rock, okay, God love him, if he doesn’t want to do gigs next fall, he doesn’t have to do gigs next fall. Alright? But if he’s Senator Kid Rock, he’s got to do a Chamber of Commerce up in the Upper Peninsula. He’s gotta be in Munising in March, whether he likes it or not. He has no control really over his free time like he used to, ’cause it’s set by the schedule of the Senate. I’m sure he’ll take all that in to account when he makes a decision.

Buskirk:    So here’s the question, we can’t get into his head about whether he wants to or not, he seems to be thinking about it, but if he runs, if he makes that decision, two questions, will he win the nomination, and will be beat Debbie Stabenow out.

McCotter:  No one can touch him in the field for the nomination, and I think he’ll beat Stabenow out, I really do.

Buskirk:   Yeah, that’s my gut feeling. She is boring as boring gets, and it’s …

McCotter:   She was a folk singer, by the way. She used to sing in a folk group.

Buskirk:   Nothing against folk music, but Kid Rock versus Peter, Paul and Mary, I’ll take Kid Rock.

McCotter:   Folk versus rock, the Michigan showdown.

Buskirk:    I love it. Thad, have a good weekend, we’ll talk to you again real soon.

McCotter:   Thanks, man.

Buskirk:   Alright, bye-bye.

McCotter:   Bye.


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