March 14, 2005

Social Security Privatization, R.I.P.: NY Times Columnist David Brooks gives the eulogy:
Having skimmed decades of private-account proposals, Republicans did not appreciate how unfamiliar this idea would seem to many people. They didn't appreciate how beloved Social Security is, and how much they would have to show they love it, too, before voters would trust them to reform it. In their efforts to create a risk-taking, dynamic society, they didn't appreciate how many people, including conservatives, value security and safety.

Furthermore, Republicans didn't really have a strategy to get their proposals through Congress. They seemed to think that if the president held enough town hall meetings around the country, they could somehow bulldoze the Democrats.


But Republican leaders have never really developed the skills required for cross-party horse-trading. Today's Republicans emerged in response to the ideological politics of the 1960's and were forged in the anti-political populism of the 1994 revolution. These anti-political creatures of conviction find sticking to orthodoxy easier than the art of compromise.


When Social Security reform was broached, the [Democratic] party leaders went to the F.D.R. Memorial, as if the glory days of the 1930's were the guideposts for the 21st century. Meanwhile, the party base has grown militant with rage. The Howard Dean hotheads declare that they hate the evil Republicans, making compromise seem like collaborating with Satan. The militants, bloggers and polemicists have waged a relentless pressure campaign on any moderates who might even be thinking of offering constructive ideas.
Well, I wouldn't put it that way, exactly, but it does do a heart good realizing the power progressives are beginning to exercise through the blogosphere (or almost as good, the power we are perceived to be exercising; it's interesting to note that while conservative bloggers are more content to pick off the occasional media figure who steps out of line, liberal bloggers are having much more influence at the policy level). For a political party that has been pretty devoid of ideas for a generation, the militancy decried by Pundit Brooks can more accurately be described as a movement becoming revitalized.

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