January 1, 2016


Despite the Trump disaster, the Republican Party is in great shape (Matthew Yglesias, December 30, 2015, Vox)

The basic truth is this: Whatever the merits of orthodox American conservative economic policy (I am skeptical, personally) the reason its proponents are pushing the envelope so hard is pretty clear -- the strategy is working fairly well and the odds of it achieving massive political success are decent.

Frum paints a highly entertaining and largely accurate portrait of the internal dynamics that have fueled Trumpism but is fundamentally too skeptical that the non-Trump faction's strategy will succeed in the end on its own terms. Beinart's thesis about a boom-time for American liberalism contains important elements of truth, but also skirts far too much of the core center of what American political conflict is about.

Both articles severely understate the possibility that one year from today we may well be looking at a President-Elect Rubio (or Bush or Christie or Cruz) backed by congressional majorities and downballot dominance not seen since the depths of the Great Depression. The kind of solid wall of Republicanism that may well take office in 2017 would be unlikely to endure very long, but it would be empowered to enact sweeping changes in American public policy that would make all of this winter's liberal smugness look absurd. [...]

Sentiment had shifted strongly to the right before Ronald Reagan's election, but the longer the conservative icon remained in offie the more the public swung left. Conversely, the Obama presidency has been associated with a bunch of high-profile liberal policymaking that the public senses has perhaps gone too far.

This backlash to Obama-ism isn't unusual or unprecedented in scale. But its interaction with the Democratic collapse in state government leads to some unfortunate consequences for liberals. The presence of so many Republican governors and state legislatures means that the overall trajectory of American public policy during the Obama years simply hasn't been all that left-wing -- things like the Affordable Care Act and Obama's historic carbon control rules have been partially offset by anti-union legislation, regressive state tax reforms, and serious cutbacks in education spending. But public perceptions of politics are dominated by the presidency, so the mood has swung right in reaction to Obama just as it would have had the Democratic Party in general been more successful in the Obama years.

While the UR has governed identically to W, he is perceived as Left, just as W was perceived as Right, and Clinton was perceived as Left, and so the identical reaction is ocurring.  The only real question of 2016 is whether we get a Republican or a Democrat who pushes the exact same Third Way policies as Bill/W/Barrack.Irrespective, we'll get movement towards greater free trade, more consumption based taxation and transfer of the safety net from defined benefit to defind contribution.

Posted by at January 1, 2016 10:52 AM