A Final Column From Fred Barnes : “Progressives love change. And they have a rooting section, the media.”

From a column in the Washington Examiner by Fred Barnes headlined “My next big change: Retirement”:

I had my first brush with journalism at age 13, when I was in junior high school. Big league baseball was my full-time hobby. I was so caught up with the sport that I subscribed to a weekly baseball magazine, the Sporting News.

It had a page of letters to the editor, and I read them all. I’d been to minor league games when visiting my grandfather, an Atlanta Crackers fan, and wondered why there were no major league teams in the South. I was told cities in the South were too small to support a team. This was the mid-1950s.

So, I dreamed up a plan to get around the lack of big cities. An American or National League team could represent a half-dozen Southern cities at once: playing a week in Atlanta, another in Nashville, then in Birmingham, Memphis, Jacksonville. Cities that couldn’t support a team full-time from April to September could handle a few cycles of major league games each summer.

I sent a letter to the Sporting News with my proposal. And it got published. It was the first time I’d seen my byline in print. And that pointed me to a life in journalism — newspapers, magazines, some TV.

As for my idea, it didn’t catch on. I got zero feedback. Now, after years of experience in the press, I think I know why: People are leery of change. My plan was too imaginary. It required big and complicated change. But when the Milwaukee Braves moved to Atlanta a decade later, fans all over the South accepted the new team instantly.

As you can tell, I’m no expert on change. But I’ve watched it unfold in politics for decades. As a conservative, I’m suspicious of change. Progressives love change and are eager to impose it. And they have a rooting section, the media.

During my years as a newspaper reporter at the Charleston News and Courier, Washington Evening Star, and Baltimore Sun, LBJ’s Great Society was the only program of sweeping change. It wasn’t popular.

I don’t recall raising the subject at the New Republic and Weekly Standard, whose founders (Bill Kristol, John Podhoretz, and me) went different ways when it folded in 2019. At that time, I had the good fortune of being offered a weekly column for the Washington Examiner by its editor Hugo Gurdon….

As for me, another change is in store: I decided in March to retire. As I step down as a full-time columnist at the Washington Examiner — and after more than a half-century in journalism — I’d like to assess today’s wild rush to subject the country to a new wave of massive political change….

In politics, change can be barely noticeable, gradual, overdue, or radical. Virginia, where I live, was a conservative state for centuries but quietly became liberal over the past decade.

Gradual change is common. The population boom in the South has speeded up recently, but it’s been growing since the late 1940s.

Overdue change is conspicuous in civil rights. In 1964 and 1965, anti-discrimination and voting rights laws were enacted. That they had been ignored for too long is manifested by the continued turmoil over racial issues today.

Radical change is another story. Its full-throated embrace by the Biden administration was unexpected. It’s a coincidence: a president with minimal ideas of his own whose party is suddenly dominated by its progressive faction.

Biden is a politician who goes wherever his party goes….Killing the filibuster in the Senate is an example of his willingness to flip.

Biden says he wants to raise taxes to spur growth and jobs. Yes, that’s an economic contradiction that President Barack Obama tried. It created a weak economy. Presidents Kennedy, Reagan, and Trump went for tax cuts. The result: strong growth and more jobs. So, whose strategy has Biden grabbed hold of? Obama’s.

I haven’t done the math, but my guess is Biden wants to do bigger things and more of them than FDR or LBJ sought in their first year. He’s stacked change upon change, with more change to come.

Is this what the public voted for? The answer is no.

Fred Barnes is a Washington Examiner senior columnist. This is his final contribution in that role.

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