Monday, August 08, 2011

Yoni Applebaum Comes So Close To The Answer

[Early 20th century] Progressives offered a clear diagnosis of what ailed the body politic: corrupt politicians. They had been captured by party machines and powerful businesses, and labored on behalf of their patrons and themselves instead of the people. Advancing the public interest, it followed, would first require radical, structural reforms of government. [...]
The current progressive movement has, by contrast, tended to promise better policies and improved implementation, while rallying to the defense of government from its critics. It insists that government should do better, but not that we need a better government. Whatever its intellectual merits, this approach has a fatal political flaw: most Americans number themselves among government's critics. They don't think government works terribly well, and they are disinclined to support politicians who do. Voters are increasingly eager to hear accounts of our present crises that offer comprehensive explanations and systematic solutions. Conservatives contend that government itself is the problem, and that the solution is to slash its size and role. That appeals to voters who want narratives that seem scaled to the enormity of the challenges that we face. Progressives offer no equivalently broad diagnosis of government dysfunction, much less an equally compelling remedy. [...]

In strictly political terms, the particular reforms may matter less than the narrative they support. Most Americans are convinced that their government is fundamentally broken. And if progressives want to sell the public on the idea that government can solve our problems, they first need to identify, and explain how they will fix, the problems with our government.
Admittedly, it's cherry picking, but you'll note how his conclusion supports the first excerpted paragraph? That's really where Progressives ought to be heading. The Teabaggers have no problem with shooting the GOP in the foot to advance their goals of ousting politicians who aren't corrupt enough for their liking. We can turn that around, especially as the American people have fallen out of lust with teabagging. They're ready.
Let's roll.