The New New Deal


Are you flirting with the idea of voting for Barack Obama? Already in the Yes, We Must camp? Then one thing you might want to consider is checking in on what various Democrats have planned for the pending Restoration. For instance, Michael "Vietnam: The Necessary War" Lind is arguing in Salon (annoying ad to skip) for a "Newer Deal," in which Democrats who are seeking a "lasting supermajority" eject the social liberalism and "liberaltarianism" of the "McGovernite" Democratic era of Carter and Clinton and failure, and re-embrace Franklin Roosevelt's "It's the New Deal, Stupid" approach. Some excerpts:

The Roosevelt Party ran on economic issues, and didn't care whether voters were in favor of sex or against it on principle as long as they supported the New Deal. […]

Nobody ever asked FDR or Harry Truman or John F. Kennedy or Lyndon Johnson their views on contraception, or abortion, or censorship. […]

[A]lmost all of the policy proposals that excite the American public are exactly the sort of old-fashioned, "paleoliberal" spending programs or systems of government regulation that are supposed to be obsolete in this era of privatization, deregulation and free-market globalization, according to neoliberals and libertarians. Bill Clinton to the contrary, the public clearly does not think that "the era of big government is over." […]

[A]cross the country there are lots of potential Democratic congressional and senatorial candidates who would like to move to Washington—and might be able to, if social conservatives were welcomed to a big-tent party defined almost exclusively by economic liberalism. […]

A big reason that the Democrats won back Congress in 2006 and are likely to keep it in 2008 is nominating and electing socially conservative economic populists like Heath Shuler. More progress. But to create an updated version of the New Deal, the Democrats have to treat economically liberal social conservatives as equal partners, with their own spokesmen and leadership roles in the party, not just as a handful of swing voters brought on reluctantly at the last moment. Conversely, Rubin Democrats and other economic conservatives should be invited to join Grover Norquist and the Club for Growth in a free-market deficit hawk party, which no doubt would prove to be as ineffectual and isolated as the Herbert Hoover Republicans during the New Deal era.

David Weigel has been chronicling the Democrats' repudiation of free-market Clintonism, plans for union-expanding "card check," and growing hostility to free trade.