Rare Good Op-Ed in the Times (!)

Holy Crap – The NY Times Delivers Real Thought!

In this blog post, Ross Douthat of the NY Times puts forward a theory that’s gaining popularity in Political Science departments around the country – the theory that the increasing polarization and vitriol offered by both parties in Washington and in the many states along the purple front lines in the war for this country is caused by something called “The Politics of Loss.”  He believes, and I think he’s got a great point here, that for fifty years since the end of WWII, America was able to avoid getting into ugly political battles because our economy was almost continuously exploding with revenues that could be taxed without generating pain and suffering for the middle class.  That era is plainly over – liberals had it mostly their way for a long time – the GOP raised spending to fund their idea of social construction and the Dems increased spending to fund their idea of social construction and no one had to raise taxes to painful levels or cut spending for key programs.  To quote Che Guevara in Evita:

“When the money keeps rolling in, you don’t need books.”

But this is a new era…an era of no margins for error, massive, crippling debts, a weak market, and unrest abroad.  An era of expensive wars against terrorist regimes and expensive quests for ideal social safety nets.  The American people have been lulled into a false sense of safety for fifty years, thinking their programs and benefits would always be there for them and now they’re being told the money’s gone.

Douthat is speaking from a personal liberal conviction and observing that his side is weak and not proving to be very good at defending against conservative cavalry raids or at going on the offensive themselves at the state level, but what he might see as his side’s tragic lack of fortitude, I see as the unavoidable weakness of a position based on bad logic, doctored history and the lack of moral foundations.  Today’s Democrats can’t propose a budget that the people would accept because their ideas didn’t work, still can’t work, and they know it.  They can’t go on the offensive when Walker cripples public sector unions because public sector unions are crushing state budgets and have been for thirty years…and they KNOW it!  They can’t formulate a solid party platform and execute it because all of the ideas have been tested and have failed the test.  They are paralyzed by their own incompetence.

This is a war to save the country from collapsing under the weight of its own arrogance – both parties contributed to that arrogance, but one party is now trying to push back.  The other side is weak…their lines are collapsing.  Now is the time for confident aggression (not the physical type…this is a metaphorical war, not one waged with guns and knifes)…when you have a chance for final victory, you have to take it, and there can be no fear.  The GOP has the edge in public opinion on the key issues of the day…if they can convert that into solid majorities in the House and Senate, further gains at the state level and Romney in the White House come November…they will need to go “all in.”  No half-measures, no compromises, no kowtowing to special interests.  If they falter, the left will again get the upper hand as happened in France…and we will be well and truly screwed.

2 thoughts on “Rare Good Op-Ed in the Times (!)

  1. Ross Douthat strikes me as a moderate. His most recent book (which I still haven't had a chance to discuss on this blog, sadly) criticizes both the liberal accommodationists and the conservative evangelicals who dominate American Christianity.

    But as for the content of his NY Times editorial: The mid-century moment was extremely unusual. The world had just gone through a cataclysmic conflict which destroyed the infrastructure of every industrial nation outside of America. We had no competition. So yeah — we found ourselves swimming in cash that we could spend to our hearts' content. Of course, Britain, Germany, Japan, etc., were not going to remain economically hobbled forever, so that joyous prosperity and free spending were all based on an illusion of boundlessness that was destined to be shattered sooner or later. What's happening right now? That's the reality of scarcity smacking us square in the face. And the left is losing because its champions refuse to recognize the bruises.


  2. Indeed.

    A fiscally realistic liberalism could play still…they could say “we have to do everything we can to help these vulnerable groups and if that means giving up a bit more in taxes and cutting military spending etc…that's what needs to get done…but we'll balance our budgets and pay off any debt we accrue” and convince a lot of moderates to vote for them…but they don't want to make that argument…they want to tax the crap out of the wealthy and spend without limits. They're frozen in ideological jail and they refuse to see reason.


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