Editor’s Note: The mainstream conservative above gets chest pains at the thought of Millennials being liberated from debt peonage by Yang and receiving $1,000 a month.
This is an excellent article from Damon Linker. I’m only just now finding it:
“These are ideologically disorienting times.
Partisan polarization is severe and increasing. Compromise has become a dirty word. Democrats fear Republicans have become fascists. Republicans accuse Democrats of embracing socialism. The center of the ideological spectrum, over which presidential candidates once fought to the electoral death, has become the political empty set, with leading members of both parties fleeing it at top speed and a self-proclaimed independent and centrist (potential) candidate for president, businessman Howard Schultz, pulling an anemic 4 percent in the polls.
But what if the problem is less that voters have abandoned the center and want politicians to embrace extremism than that their preferences no longer coincide with where the political lines have been drawn over the past several decades? …
Put it all together and we’re left with a Trump campaign firmly situated in the upper-left quadrant of the chart — somewhere in the vicinity of a new, post-Reagan center. Which perhaps helps to explain why 2016 voters tended to view Trump as a moderate.
They don’t view him that way anymore, no doubt in large part because his rhetoric and actions on immigration and other issues have been so harshly polarizing. But it’s probably also because for most of the past two years Trump has governed as far more of a traditional Reaganite Republican (situated in the upper right quadrant) than one might have guessed he would from his campaign. Paul Ryan set the policy agenda, with the signature achievement of the first two years of Trump’s presidency a massive tax cut for corporations. …”
We’re not “isolationists” who are opposed to the rest of the world or disinterested in foreign affairs. Instead, we look at foreign countries like China which are rapidly moving forward into the 21st century, investing in infrastructure and the industries of the future and avoiding destructive, interminable foreign interventions and ask why our leaders busy Making Israel Great Again?
“Writing in 1949, in the aftermath of a cataclysmic world war against fascism and confronting another totalitarian challenge in the form of Soviet communism, Arthur Schlesinger Jr. proposed that a new “vital center” of American politics could be forged out of the effort to foster freedom at home and abroad. On the domestic side, this meant expanding on the liberalism of the New Deal. When it came to foreign policy, it meant using American military, economic, and diplomatic power to build and defend a liberal international order that could stand up to and push back against the imperial and ideological ambitions of Stalinism around the world.
To an astonishing degree, Schlesinger’s outlook still describes how leading members of today’s center-right and center-left view America’s role in the world — though it’s long past feeling vital. …
The ideology of American primacy is also what leads a bipartisan coalition of foreign policy experts to the astonishing conclusion that the biggest danger facing the United States today is that we aren’t nearly powerful enough.
That is what the American center believes — at least the center in and around Washington, D.C. What’s believed by members of the real American center — the one constituted by the public opinion of the voters at large — is far less obvious.” …
Once a new center coalesces on domestic affairs, a new foreign policy consensus will begin to form along with it. With any luck, it will favor not systematic withdrawal, but realism, restraint, and wisdom about American interests and the limits of any single nation’s power to control and dominate the world.”
I’ve been told my entire life that my politics are “Far Right” by “journalists” in the media when I am equally distant from the Charlie Kirks and Koch Brothers, Hannity and AOC.
“The culture war divides Americans more deeply and more sharply than anything else. Read The New York Times or most other outlets of the mainstream media and you’ll get the distinct impression that those on the conservative side of the conflict are ignorant bigots and quite possibly theocratic fascists. Read or listen to right-wing media, and you’re likely to hear that those on the progressive side favor infanticide and are anti-religious fanatics just steps away from enacting an American version of Mao’s murderous cultural revolution.
Thankfully, we have reason to think that most Americans are less polarized on these issues than the pronouncements of partisans and activists on each side would lead one to believe. We also have reason to suspect that public opinion on social issues and questions of national identity tilts somewhat to the right — and that this stance, when combined with a pragmatically progressive economic program, could well constitute a new American center.
That will sound outrageous to many. For much of the past four decades, the American center has been defined by its broadly libertarian outlook on both economic and social issues. To be a centrist Democrat, a centrist Republican, or a centrist independent has been to favor keeping taxes relatively low, regulations relatively minimal, international trade relatively free, and government services and benefits intact and in place while not expanding them very far into new areas. It has also meant supporting abortion rights and eventually gay marriage and transgender rights, and favoring, for both moral and economic reasons, high levels of immigration.
Yet a comprehensive survey of voters in the 2016 election has revealed that very few people actually support this combination of libertarian policies — and that lots of people favor the ideologically opposite position: relatively progressive on the economy and relatively conservative on social issues.
That is where the new center of American politics can be found. …”
Lots of good ideas in this article. I’m so tired of Hannity vs. AOC takes. I want to congratulate Damon Linker who is really pushing forward to a new consensus in this series of articles.
“Ever since the Reagan administration, the political center has been personified by the corporate executive. This white-collar worker has some socially liberal leanings, but his number one priority is seeking profits that benefit himself and his company, and that enable him to hire workers who earn salaries, pay taxes, and contribute to overall economic growth. In other words, he combines a moderate version of the Republican Party’s economic libertarianism with a slightly tempered variation on the Democratic Party’s libertarianism on social issues and questions of national identity.
But does this person really exist in sufficient numbers to be considered the political center anymore? A comprehensive survey of voters in the 2016 presidential election suggests not. Indeed, this research shows that while there are very few voters in this old center, there are quite a few in an alternative center where very few political candidates place themselves. Instead of combining a Republican position on economics with a Democratic position on social issues, this alternative center does the reverse — combining, roughly speaking, a Republican position on social issues with a Democratic position on economics.
Donald Trump appeared to position himself somewhere in this new center during his 2016 campaign for president — which probably helps to explain why voters tended to view him as a moderate. They don’t see him that way anymore, in part because the president has governed far more like a Reaganite Republican than one might have expected or hoped.
But if Trump has mostly abandoned the new center he once haltingly and temporarily staked out, what would it look like for a presidential candidate to embrace it in 2020? What policies would this candidate champion? What arguments and appeals would she use to persuade voters to rally to her campaign and agenda? And what vision of the country’s past, present, and future would she invoke to lend it weight and urgency? …”
David Brooks is writing about this now.
Imagine a Tucker/Yang 2020 unity ticket running as the Populist Party:
Getting a lot of pushback against my tweet saying there’s room for a party that is economically left and socially right. Here’s the evidence from Lee Drutman. pic.twitter.com/I092RvqNAF
— David Brooks (@nytdavidbrooks) April 5, 2019
If somebody wants to start a new political party they should make it economically left and culturally right. That’s the big unserved group in America right now. https://t.co/9BWVlEz7CN
— David Brooks (@nytdavidbrooks) April 5, 2019
The American Conservative has a new article along these lines:
“The Penguin Encyclopedia of Popular Music described the politics of Pete Seeger, the folk-singer, songwriter, and antiwar activist who died last week at the age of 94, as “naïve but honest.” They were certainly honest—not even Seeger’s worst enemies would dispute that—but what was naïve about Seeger’s socialist conservatism?
Seeger was the authentic voice of the old American left and understood that conservatism, far from being inimical to socialism, was actually an essential component of it. In an interview with the New York Times in 1995 he declared, “I like to say I’m more conservative than [Barry] Goldwater. He just wanted to turn the clock back to when there was no income tax. I want to turn the clock back to when people lived in small villages and took care of each other.” …”
George Fitzhugh knew 150 years ago where free-market capitalism was headed and that conservatism and socialism were more compatible than lots of people think.