Every week I come across a few articles, blog posts, what have you, that strike me as particularly interesting. Since there’s lots of stuff out there and nobody manages to catch everything, I thought that, as I have time – weekly I hope – I’d start sharing some of the “thinky” articles with you – I’ll add a short summary or a quote from the text that underlines why I think it’s valuable to read.
I don’t necessarily agree with the thrust of all of these articles or with specific arguments they put forward, but I do find them provocative. Nor do I expect that you all will absolutely agree either. If anyone who reads this wants to discuss any of the articles or to suggest some good reading that I’ve missed – or the importance of which I’ve failed to appreciate – please make use of the comments.
Follow the Dark Money, Andy Kroll (Mother Jones, July/Aug. 2012). “The down and dirty history of secret spending, PACs gone wild, and the epic four-decade fight over the only kind of political capital that matters.” A Telling quote:
Paul S. Ryan, senior counsel at the pro-reform Campaign Legal Center, says Bopp’s use of the culture wars to attack political money regulations is central to understanding his influence and success. “Bopp recognizes something that few on the left recognize: that campaign finance law underlies all other substantive law,” Ryan says. “If you can deregulate money in politics, you can buy the policy outcomes you prefer.”
This Is What a Businessman in the White House Looks Like, Ben Adler (The Nation, June 21, 2012). Mitt Romney says we should elect him because his proven business skills can be effective in government. In response, Adler looks at how poorly business men in government have fared in the past, as well as at Mitt Romney’s claims:
Ultimately, governing is about policy choices, not creating wealth. Romney has embraced the economic platform of career politician Representative Paul Ryan (R-WI). That includes budget-busting tax cuts and unspecified spending cuts and tax reforms that are supposed to offset them. In other words, his business career notwithstanding, Romney’s economic policy would be indistinguishable from other far-right Republican ideologues.
Why History Matters to Liberalism, E. J. Dionne, Jr. (Democracy, Summer 2012). Dionne takes on the issue of who controls the historical narrative that animates our collective political life:
While the right was talking about history, liberals were talking about-well, health-care coverage, insurance mandates, cap-and-trade, financial reforms, and a lot of other practical stuff. One can offer a sympathetic argument here that progressives were trying to govern in a rather difficult moment and didn’t have time to go back to the books. But the left’s default was costly, and it was noticed by an editor of this journal in the spring of last year. “Beyond the circumscribed world of academic journals and conferences,” Elbert Ventura wrote in these pages, “history is being taught-on TV and talk radio, in blogs and grassroots seminars, in high school textbooks and on Barnes & Noble bookshelves. In all those forums, conservatives have been conspicuous by their activity-and progressives by their absence.” Ventura ended with this alarming coda: “If we don’t fight for history, progressivism itself will be history.”
Selling destructive ideology, George Lakoff and Elisabeth Wehling, (Salon, June 23). “Why conservatives sell their wildly destructive ideology better than Democrats.” The takeaway quote:
Where Romney talks morality (conservative style), Obama mainly talks policy. Where Romney reframes Obama, Obama does not reframe Romney. In fact, he reinforces Romney’s frames in the first part of his speech by repeating Romney’s language word for word – without spelling out his own values explicitly.
Losing on Health Reform, Paul Waldman (The American Prospect, June 21, 2012). “Perhaps it was impossible to win the battle over public opinion.” The perspective from which Waldman starts:
When the Supreme Court issues its ruling on the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act, we’ll begin a new chapter in this saga, one that will probably (well, maybe) involve sorting through how the law’s implementation will work once the individual mandate is struck down. But we’ve reached the point where there’s no denying that the fight over public opinion has been lost, and that ground may never be regained no matter how hard the Obama administration or progressives might try.
The Washington Monthly (January/February issue). The link here is to the contents page of an entire issue of the journal. This issue examines what would happen to each component of our political life if Obama loses in November – it’s older than the articles above, but a chilling must-read. To give you an idea of what it’s all about, here’s a list of the relevant articles (you can link to them from the contents page above):
–What If Obama Loses?: Imagining the consequences of a GOP victory. By the Editors
–Campaign Promises: What they say is how they’ll govern. By Jonathan Bernstein
–The Tea Party: Picking the candidates and writing the agenda. By Dave Weigel
–Congress: The good news is… no more gridlock. By Thomas Mann and Norman Ornstein
–The Courts: The conservative takeover will be complete. By Dahlia Lithwick
–Foreign Affairs: The “more enemies, fewer friends” doctrine. By James Traub
–The Environment: The end of the EPA as we know it. By David Roberts
–Financial Regulation: Back to the good ol’ days of 2008. By Michael Konczal
–Obamacare: It’s toast. By Harold Pollack