My latest AJE Op-Ed is here. It begins like this:
The dual failure of conservative policy and liberal politics
Politicians must ‘recognise and nurture a new sort of dialogue between two different ideologies’, author says.
Last week I wrote about Newt Gingrich’s incredibly destructive record and mindset. But as I wrote then, “If you want to know why the American political system can’t solve even most routine problems anymore, the reasons are larger than any one person”.
They are even larger than one party or one ideology. For the me-too-but-not-so-much style of “opposition” that the Democrats have increasingly practiced over the past 30 years is as problematic in its own way as Republican conservatism has been. After all, Wall Street deregulation was a bipartisan project, even though the Democratic base was ignored in the process. So, too, were NAFTA, the Iraq War, the no-strings TARP bailout, “No Child Left Behind”, and countless other initiatives that have chipped away at the New Deal legacy, the most successful governance system – or “political regime” – that the United States has ever known. The New Deal system took the US from the depths of the Great Depression to the pinnacle of world power while also giving birth to the largest middle class ever known in human history, and tearing down the legal barriers to full citizenship for women and minorities.
But conservatives saw this triumphant success as a nightmare that threatened the “natural order” of established privilege and power. Democratising opportunity and power, which liberals see as an unvarnished good, is deeply threatening to conservatives. With the legalisation of mass labour unions and collective bargaining in the 1930s, the democratisation of higher education and home-ownership in the 1940s, and the elimination of second-class citizenship for women and minorities in the 1950s and 60s, the US became a much freer and equal place to live than it had ever been before. This rapid expansion of “liberty and justice for all” resonated powerfully with the promise of the US as a liberal democracy.
Yet, this same promise and its progressive unfolding deeply scared and angered conservatives – and helped drive their activism. Backed by enormous private wealth, they set about organising a multi-generational movement to overthrow what the New Deal system created from the 1930s to the 1960s.
You can read the whole op-ed here.