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Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Griper Blade: Recognizing the Failure of Reaganomics

Nearly every presidential candidate in my memory has promised to change Washington for the better. Politicians need to do things differently, we're told. To work together, to find common ground, to put aside politics for the good of the nation. It all sounds good, but the problem with this promise is that you're promising to change someone else. If Washington doesn't want to change, Washington isn't going to change. And, as we've seen in recent years, if Washington actually wants to get worse, then there isn't a lot any one person can do about it. Barack Obama, like every candidate before him, promised to change the way Washington worked. The problem was that he meant it.

President Obama kept to this centrist, moderate path long after it became clear it didn't lead anywhere. Republicans became a jerking-kneed herd, obstructing anything Democratic, out of a fit of sore-loserism and the belief that political sabotage would pay off for them at the ballot box. Centrism should have died, but Obama seemed to believe there was still some hope. There wasn't. There can probably never be. Democracy is an adversarial system and fighting is built in. A system where one side wins and one side loses once every two years fosters competition, not cooperation. The basic argument behind centrism and moderation is deeply, deeply flawed; that cooperation is more important than the best ideas, that the process is more important than the result.

So it came as both a surprise and a relief when President Obama spoke at Osawatomie, Kansas yesterday. The centrist Obama was mostly absent. Instead, a partisan Obama stepped up to the podium.

Now, just as there was in Teddy Roosevelt’s time, there is a certain crowd in Washington who, for the last few decades, have said, let’s respond to this economic challenge with the same old tune. “The market will take care of everything,” they tell us. If we just cut more regulations and cut more taxes -- especially for the wealthy -- our economy will grow stronger. Sure, they say, there will be winners and losers. But if the winners do really well, then jobs and prosperity will eventually trickle down to everybody else. And, they argue, even if prosperity doesn’t trickle down, well, that’s the price of liberty...[CLICK TO READ FULL POST]

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