Thursday, November 4, 2010

Why Democrats Lost and Republicans are Losers

Why Democrats lost:
For Democrats, the core challenge is not absence of principle but rather obsolescence of purpose. For at least three generations the Democratic Party has been, or at least has presented itself as, the party of countervailing power. Notwithstanding attempts at a course-change undertaken first by Bill Clinton and now by Barack Obama, the identity of the Democratic Party is still deeply tied to the tensions and triumphs that for decades characterized politics within the Iron Triangle: Big labor exists in opposition to large corporations, and government must be vigilant if it is to protect citizens and workers from abuses perpetrated by powerful private actors. In fact, big business and big labor are functional allies, and government isn’t protecting us from either one; rather, it is under pressure to prop both up without a justifiable economic rationale. This Democratic vision is to today’s reality what an AT&T rotary dial phone is to Gmail.
 Why Republicans are Losers:
Take the Republicans. Faced with a crisis of mammoth proportions, congressional Republicans closed ranks to reject a proposed economic stimulus package on the grounds that the bill contained, in the words of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, “unnecessary spending that doesn’t create jobs now.” This was a principled stand minus one critical element: principle. The travesty of “don’t-tax-but-spend-anyway” Republicans trying, once again, to portray themselves as advocates of fiscal discipline was actually exceeded in this case by the absurdity of their objecting to the composition of the largest economic stimulus program in history on the grounds that the money would not be spent quickly enough. At a time when we need thoughtful assessments attuned to the longer term, here were the Republicans complaining that policy was not short-term enough! Unable to make a credible case for either total inaction in the face of crisis or yet another round of broad-based tax cuts, congressional Republicans were effectively reduced to playing the role of arch Keynesians.
... from my 2009 essay with Zoltan Acs in The American Interest...

Will anti-immigration idiocy and empty blather about job-creation through budget cuts--the "NO everything" strategy absent any positive program of action--continue to be the order the day from the New Kings of the Hill? Or will Mitch & Co. see the light and decide that they are in Washington to do something other complain about people in Washington.

Will the genius trust that is still in place at the White House break free at last from the Ghost of Dems Past and craft a vision for the future that is really about creating the conditions for the "the risk-takers, the doers, the makers of things" to thrive?

Hold your breath America!
We'll first turn first BLUE
And then turn RED
If we keep it up this way
We'll all be ....

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