November 5th, 2012

PK Icon

An insightful piece from Drew Westen

The New York Times had this insightful piece by Drew Westen on Sunday. Briefly, although the candidates have shown marked improvement in the general election every time they have taken turn to the left (in Obama's case, by embracing income inequality and increased taxes on the wealthy; in Romney's case by pivoting center in the debate), the invariable narrative that drives our politics is rightward leaning. Even if Obama wins, "centrist" Democrats are likely to argue that the narrow margin of victory flows from his supposed effort to move "too far" to the left.

Polling and focus groups by Westen and others shows that even in conservative areas of the country, there is considerable support for a greater role of government than is credited by the dominant narrative. But the influence of money on politics, and the absence of a compelling progressive philosophy and narrative, act to create "a single magnetic pole" in our politics that draws all policies and discourse to it. (Westen compares this to the period between Roosevelt and Reagan, when even Republican Presidents such as Eisenhower and Nixon adopted essentially New Deal-esque policies of infrastructure investment and expanding federal involvement in the economy generally).
PK Icon

Why I Despair

NPR had an interview with an undecided Virginia voter. Said voter, a veteran, was concerned that it was "too easy" to get entitlements, like unemployment, although said person had himself needed public support. "But I was really working hard to get a job," as opposed to simply taking the easy way to a hand out.

I am always curious on what basis people believe that lots of other people are sliding along while they -- and they alone! -- are actually worthy recipients? Yeah, yeah -- I get cognitive dissonance. Mind you, unemployment insurance is something you actually pay for when working -- just like vetrans benefits are something you actually were promised in exchange for potentially risking your life, and just like a pension and health benefits were things you negotiated for when you were working and chose to stay in the job. But somehow, these things, when they belong to others, are "entitlements."

Yes, when we negotiate a contract, I am entitled to believe you will honor it.