Our Asymmetrical Parties
May 20, 2011
Michael Gerson has a pretty interesting column noticing that the Democratic Party is riven in two, while the Republican Party is unified: Republican leaders have proved themselves capable of producing proposals that unite perhaps 90 percent of their congressional delegation, losing just a thin margin at each end of their ideological spectrum. But the job is made easier by the narrowness of the Republican ideological spectrum.
Not by Popular Demand
May 19, 2011
From the Ryan plan, to the Obama plan, to the Gang of Six (now five), deficit mania has officially taken over Washington. Both Republicans and Democrats, while they have different preferred approaches, are single-mindedly focused on cutting budget deficits and relieving the long-term debt situation of the country. Yet unemployment remains at 9 percent and the modest economic recovery that’s underway has shown signs of sputtering.
May 14, 2011
In the wake of the killing of Osama bin Laden, there’s been a silly effort among the conservative chattering classes to bat down the idea that this development means a permanent boost in Barack Obama’s approval ratings, or even guarantees his re-election. It’s silly, of course, because no one really believes the straw-man proposition in the first place.
Why The Tax Debate Tilts So Far Right
April 19, 2011
Noting yet another poll showing overwhelming, bipartisan support for raising tax rates on upper-income Americans, Matthew Yglesias notes: One of the most striking aspects of American politics over the past decade has been the unwillingness of moderate/vulnerable Democratic Party members of congress to embrace the median voter’s view of this issue. In principle, it ought to be a potent wedge that sharply divides the Republican base from moderates and independents.
A Boy’s Own Story
April 07, 2011
Colonel Roosevelt By Edmund Morris (Random House, 766 pp., $35) I. The reputation of Theodore Roosevelt has become as bloated as the man himself. No one of course can deny his fundamental significance in American history, as a central player in the transitions from republic to empire, laissez-faire to regulated capitalism, congressional government to imperial presidency. It should come as no surprise that professional historians still pay close attention to his career. What is surprising is the cult-like status that Roosevelt enjoys outside the academy, especially in Washington.
Must Democrats Act Like Such Wimps? Actually, Yes.
April 04, 2011
Liberals have been lamenting that the Democrats have surrendered the war of ideas and allowed Republicans to frame the budget debate entirely on their own terms, including the borderline-crackpot notion that cutting the deficit will reduce unemployment immediately. Why are Democrats doing this? Well, one reason is that the Democratic base wants its leaders to compromise, and the Republican base doesn't: Over all, 55 percent of Americans, including 53 percent of independents and 69 percent of Democrats, want lawmakers whose views they agree with to compromise.
Is Marco Rubio Secretly A Robot?
March 30, 2011
Marco Rubio's Wall Street Journal op-ed today is a deeply hilarious document. The headline is Rubio's pledge to refuse to lift the the debt ceiling, and therefore possibly collapse the world economy, if Democrats don't agree to "a plan for fundamental tax reform, an overhaul of our regulatory structure, a cut to discretionary spending, a balanced-budget amendment, and reforms to save Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid." (That's all you need, just the immediate enactment of the entire GOP economic agenda? No permanent abolition of the Democratic Party?
The Origins Of American Rightwing Taxophobia
March 16, 2011
Democracy's new issue is out, and they asked me to contribute a piece explaining how anti-tax fundamentalism conquered the Republican Party. Glad you asked, I replied: The conservative movement’s embrace of taxophobia is probably the most important development in American political life over the last three decades. It is the one quality that most distinguishes American conservative elites from conservative elites in other countries. They’re more likely to question climate science, more sanguine about people dying for lack of health insurance, and less xenophobic (which is rather nice).
Man Versus Wild
March 16, 2011
The earthquake and potential nuclear catastrophe in Japan have brought home a set of questions that have haunted philosophers for hundreds of years—and have played an important role in American politics for over a century. They have to do with the relationship between humanity and nature—not nature as “the outdoors,” but as the obdurate bio-geo-physiochemical reality in which human beings and other animals dwell. To what extent does nature set limits on human possibilities?
February 28, 2011
As Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker tries to strip away the collective bargaining rights of public-sector unions, many liberals have latched onto the idea that his real goal is to dismantle the labor movement and the infrastructure of the Democratic Party. That is almost certainly one of his aims, but it’s not the whole story. Walker also has an economic vision for his state—one which is common currency in the Republican Party today, but hitherto alien in a historically progressive, unionist Midwestern state like Wisconsin.