Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The Democrats' health care divide

Ed Kilgore has some thoughts:
[T]he Obama administration has chosen the strategy of deploying regulated and subsidized private sector entities to achieve progressive policy results. This approach was a hallmark of the so-called Clintonian, "New Democrat" movement, and the broader international movement sometimes referred to as "the Third Way," which often defended the use of private means for public ends [...] To put it more bluntly, on a widening range of issues, Obama's critics to the right say he's engineering a government takeover of the private sector, while his critics to the left accuse him of promoting a corporate takeover of the public sector. They can't both be right, of course, and these critics would take the country in completely different directions if given a chance. But the tactical convergence is there if they choose to pursue it.
I think this gets at the difference between leftism and liberalism, at least in my formulation. Leftists tend to find the existence of things like a private insurance industry intolerable and see politics as a zero-sum moral conflict, which is ironically how the hard right sees it as well. I tend to think this is misguided. Sure, the insurance industry is monstrous, but that fact alone shouldn't make the difference between extending health care to millions of new people or not. At least, it shouldn't to me. And hopefully the new regulations will make things better in that respect. Liberals tend to reject the leftists' entire worldview and are more interested in fixing problems by whatever means are available. Both groups tend to be concerned about the same problems, but the track record is such that liberalism has gotten quite a bit accomplished historically (Great Society, New Deal) while leftism, particularly the sort of antagonistic leftism that flourishes on the blogosphere, has a pretty poor track record in American politics. FDR's shift from the former to the latter during his second term was thankfully brief, as it led to his biggest defeat with respect to the court-packing scheme.

The leftist and the rightist both have their ideologies, but the liberal really doesn't. Which is part of the reason I am one, I think. I just can't stop considering the sheer volume of inanity coming from the leftists recently--concerns that seem to have materialized out of nowhere (I had only really heard criticism on the employer mandate before this). That this stuff never includes the standard liberal terms like, say, "expanding coverage", or "improving affordability", just that evidently the bill is "not worth passing" because it doesn't have a government health care option (though it does have a private one) makes me think that the people who run all this organizing are more than a little cretinous or stupid. It pains me so. If these folks are trying to ensure that progressives are ignored as much by this generation of Democratic leadership as much as they were by the last one, they're doing a hell of a job.

The Man, The Myth, The Bio

East Bay, California, United States
Problem: I have lots of opinions on politics and culture that I need to vent. If I do not do this I will wind up muttering to myself, and that's only like one or two steps away from being a hobo. Solution: I write two blogs. A political blog that has some evident sympathies (pro-Obama, mostly liberal though I dissent on some issues, like guns and trade) and a culture blog that does, well, cultural essays in a more long-form manner. My particular thing is taking overrated things (movies, mostly, but other things too) down a peg and putting underrated things up a peg. I'm sort of the court of last resort, and I tend to focus on more obscure cultural phenomena.