by The New Republic Staff | December 6, 2006

by Jacob T. Levy

Just after sending in my libertarianism post, I happened across today's TNR Online essay by John Judis, via former TNR Online intern Will Baude. How depressing. Judis demonstrates not only a knee-jerk support for regulating away freedom of choice because he doesn't trust the choosers (non-minor college students being offered credit cards) but treats Evan Bayh's position on the other side as self-evidently a sign of bad faith and bad character. As Virginia Postrel notes:

the alliance Brink proposes requires three difficult shifts: [...] An abandonment of Herbert Croly-style technocracy as the governing philosophy of the Democratic Party, not only in economics but in social policy, where "centrists" like Hillary Clinton tend to confuse governing with raising children. Technocracy long ago lost its ideological oomph, but Democrats have a knee-jerk commitment to regulation. Today's good government liberals generally pay homage to tolerance, pluralism, and market processes. The trick is to draw connections between those values and specific policies.
Judis is self-consciously a follower in the footsteps of TNR-founder Croly, about whom he has written often and well. I wouldn't expect him to rally to a deregulatory banner, even a progressive-deregulatory banner. But Postrel is right. If failure to embrace each and every instance of the technocratic impulse to limit individual choice is seen as so obviously disreputable as to be presumptively corrupt, then market-friendly deregulatory types (including not only libertarians but New Democratic centrists such as Brad deLong) will have a hard time finding a welcome home.

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