Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Could a Radical Surge Pull the Democrats Away from Centrism?

The political writer Michael Tomasky discusses the future of radical politics in an essay for the New York Review of Books that is nominally a review of Lane Kenworthy's book Social Democratic America (Oxford University Press), but really a discussion of the balance between centrist and radicals in the Democratic Party.

"There exists these days, among Washington policy intellectuals and advocates who tilt toward the left end of the accepted political spectrum, a certain measured optimism. It’s not about Obama, or any feeling that he might somehow, with his sagging poll numbers, be able to persuade congressional Republicans to fund, say, an infrastructure investment bank. Confidence is appropriately near zero on matters like that. Rather, it’s about the widely held perception that the Democratic Party, after years of, in the argot, “moving to the right,” is finally soft-shoeing its way leftward, away from economic centrism and toward a populism that the party as a whole has not embraced for years or even decades."
Will this leftward pressure make Hillary Clinton run as a populist (if she decides to run), rather than cozy up to her and her husband's Wall Street friends? Will she do a reverse Romney and cater to the left in the primaries to fight off Elizabeth Warren, only to turn rightwards once nominated?

Lane Kenworthy's key argument is that the move towards a more welfare oriented - social democratic if we use a more European term - society is a necessity, and he thinks that the Republican party eventually will come to there senses - somewhat. But Tomasky points out that if the Republican party nominates a more moderate candidate and he/she loses, then the extreme candidates may have a chance again.

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