October 24, 2002
THE CASE FOR PESSIMISM:Poll Vault: HOW THE DEMOCRATS COULD WIN. (John B. Judis, 10.18.02, New Republic)
At first glance the Democrats seem to have done little to merit this growing support for their domestic policies. They don't have a national program for improving education or reviving the economy. Most Democratic campaigns have been narrowly focused and uncreative: They have slammed Republican plans to privatize Social Security, they have called for including prescription-drug coverage for seniors under Medicare, and they have attacked Republicans for condoning corporate corruption.
But this timid agenda may prove surprisingly effective in today's peculiar economic climate. The American economy is not in a traditional recession, as it was during the 1982 election. Most Americans are not worried about losing their jobs right now. But they do worry that a fall in the stock market is depleting their savings and could eventually send the economy into a tailspin that would threaten their jobs. They are anxious about the future rather than the present--and that gives the Democrats' issues a particular resonance that they would not have in a boom (when voters aren't very worried about the future) or a during a deep recession (when they are fixated on immediate relief). Voters are angry about corporate corruption because it has robbed workers and stockholders of their savings. They don't want the government's savings program--Social Security--to be subject to the rise and fall of the Dow Jones index. And they worry about having to pay out their savings for rising drug costs. They prefer the simple, Democratic idea of plugging prescription-drug coverage into Medicare to the more complex--and far less generous--Republican and drug company plan of forcing seniors to pay premiums to private insurance companies for drug coverage.
If Mr. Judis's premises are correct, that the American people want the current Social Security program, their taxes to pay for prescription drugs, and government to exert control over corporations then they will, and should, vote Democrat. And were Republicans not the stupid party they would eagerly seek to fight out this election on this battleground, of Socialism vs. Free Enterprise. Posted by Orrin Judd at October 24, 2002 8:14 PM