Monday, August 8, 2011

Ross Douthat, Political Scientist

Douthat draws on political science research at New York Times, "Waiting For a Landslide." And for a second I thought he'd blow it, because "realignment theory," which he discusses, hasn't accurately explained, much less predicted, partisan trends for decades. But Douthat adds this, which is just right:

In reality, the next election may be no more transformative than 2008 turned out to be. The next Republican president may find himself as hemmed in and frustrated as President Obama has become. Meanwhile, America will still have a credit rating to fix, and a deficit to close.
More at that link at top, and Douthat had a great piece a few days ago on the debt deal, "The Liberals’ Dilemma." Note especially:
... American liberalism risks becoming a victim of its own longstanding strategy’s success. Because yesterday’s liberals insisted on making universal programs the costly core of the modern welfare state, on the famous theory that “programs for the poor become poor programs,” today’s liberals find themselves defending those universal (and therefore universally-popular) programs at the expense of every other kind of government spending — including, yes, programs for the poor. It’s a classic example of putting liberal political interests ahead of liberal policy priorities. In the short term, the insistence on ring-fencing Medicare and Social Security has left Democrats defending a system that often just ends up redistributing money from the younger middle class to the older middle class while accepting caps on programs that might do more (both directly and indirectly) to help downscale Americans get ahead. In the long term, by postponing any reckoning with the cost of entitlements, it’s making it more likely that the inevitable crunch will hit the poorest recipients of Medicare and Social Security harder than it should.
Read that whole thing. Basically, progressives will never cut entitlements because gargantuan socialist welfare states form the core of socialist existentialism.

Douthat's coming of his own as a New York Times columnist, by the way. He had cold feet or something after leaving The Atlantic, but he's been more consistent in posting some excellent commentary of late.


A Conservative Teacher said...

I wrote about realiginging elections a while ago... here is part of what I wrote...

"Obama's victory in 2008 is closer in its character to 1976 (Carter over Ford) or 1964 (LBJ over Goldwater) in that it represented simply dissatisfaction with the proposed candidate. The later unpopularity of Carter and LBJ did set the stage for the historic realigning elections that followed.

2012 will probably be the historic election that we are all looking for. Obama will be running as a liberal and will be seeking a mandate and approval for his policies- which this time around will be clearly liberal and far left. Voting blocs will have to move to vote for him, the map will have to change, and our nation will indeed embrace change with an Obama victory in 2012, setting the stage for likely Democrat control of government for 30-40 years and a shift in our nation farther to the left. If Obama loses, he will lose to a conservative candidate (the GOP is not going with another moderate- Romney, Pawleny, Palin, Huckabee, etc are all conservatives) running on a conservative platform, and it will mark a return to power for conservative Republicans and a move back to the right for our nation."

see the full post for more-

jfxgillis said...


Good Lawd.

"Basically, progressives will never cut entitlements because ... "

Dude. Unless you are of the tiny minority of Republicans and conservatives in the Bruce Bartlett school (dunno, haven't read you enough to say for sure) then you believe "Basically, conservatives will never raise taxes ..." in which case DOUHAT IS TALKING TO YOU, TOO.

Incredible. Beyond amazing. Douhat writes that partisans of both the large ideological groupings sometimes need to abandon their ideology in the interest of consensus, which you take as further ammunition to fight the very ideoloical war Douhat just told we have to sometimes not fight.