If centrist policies are doomed, why should Democrats pursue them?

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#1 Edited by mattbbpl (17208 posts) -

I ran across this oped that addresses some rationale I, serraph, and some others on here have come around. Namely, is pursuing compromise legislation worthwhile when the opposing party isn't interested in compromising? Below is the link and some excerpts. In what ways is it apt, and in what ways does it miss the mark?

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/04/17/opinion/progressive-democrats-republicans-2020.html

“Where [Bill] Clin­ton once champi­oned wel­fare to work and an expanded earned-in­come tax credit to help the work­ing poor, party activists want the fed­eral government to guar­an­tee every­one a job, a $15 min­i­mum wage and to tax com­pa­nies whose em­ployees earn so lit­tle they need food stamps and Medicaid,” Ip wrote. “Where [Barack] Obama backed a cap on car­bon-diox­ide emis­sions and trad­able per­mits, party ac­tivists want to force the coun­try off al­most all fos­sil fu­els in a decade via a Green New Deal.”

Ip concluded: “Yet be­fore De­moc­rats conclude mar­kets are a fail­ure, they should rec­og­nize that mar­ket-based mech­a­nisms have in many cases not even been given a chance.”

The United States doesn’t have a meaningful cap-and-trade program for carbon emissions, he pointed out. The private insurance markets in Obamacare have been undermined by President Trump and other Republicans. The Earned Income Tax Credit isn’t nearly as large as it could be.

All of this is true. But the main reason that Democrats — including many centrist Democrats — are moving away from market-based programs is not that they have had a change of heart. It’s that they are coming to terms with political reality.

There are two big problems with market-based policies today.

The first is that most Republican politicians aren’t interested. They oppose almost any ambitious government policy, market-based or otherwise. Today’s Republican Party is adamantly opposed to fighting climate change, expanding health insurance or to reducing income inequality.

And if Republicans are going to fight or undermine them, market-based programs probably aren’t going to happen. Such programs are often designed to be a compromise between the two parties — policies that essentially use the market to correct a market failure. I realize that some people would argue that Democrats should still promote market-based programs even if Republicans won’t.

But that brings us to the second problem.

These programs tend to be more technocratic and complex than direct government programs. As a result, they also tend to be less popular with voters (and easier to undermine). Medicare is more popular than the Obamacare insurance exchanges. The basic idea of a Green New Deal — subsidizing clean energy — is more popular than a carbon tax. A higher minimum wage is more popular than an intricate series of tax credits for job retraining.

The bottom line is that Democrats would be foolish to push for complicated market-based policies when Republicans are hostile and voters are skeptical.

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#2 Posted by Maroxad (15263 posts) -

It is a sad world when contrarianism is what runs countries and decides public policy.

I am more left leaning on this board, and I favor market based solutions to climate change. Based on what I have witnessed in the world, Market Based Solutions seem to have a pretty good track record in countries like china (which is leading the renewable energy sector). But alas it seems sadly most people are too radicalized, to realize that on most issues, both sides DO have a point. But because of how radicalized people are, as well as this my way or the high-way attitude. Practically dooms the center, as politics is getting increasingly divisive.

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#3 Posted by mattbbpl (17208 posts) -

@Maroxad: Market based policies similar to cap and trade have had pretty wide success regarding usages and allocation of finite environmental resources as an example, absolutely.

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#4 Edited by texasgoldrush (12882 posts) -

The centrist wing of the Democratic party are morons. They think they know how to win elections when they don't. And there overthinking of the 2020 election and resistance to Bernie and AOC may cost them again. The Overton Window has moved to the left and they need to recognize this.

Centrism cost the Dems the election in 2016, led to Brexit in the UK, led to the Yellow Vest protests in France, and was responsible for leading to growing populism around the world.

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#5 Posted by texasgoldrush (12882 posts) -

@Maroxad said:

It is a sad world when contrarianism is what runs countries and decides public policy.

I am more left leaning on this board, and I favor market based solutions to climate change. Based on what I have witnessed in the world, Market Based Solutions seem to have a pretty good track record in countries like china (which is leading the renewable energy sector). But alas it seems sadly most people are too radicalized, to realize that on most issues, both sides DO have a point. But because of how radicalized people are, as well as this my way or the high-way attitude. Practically dooms the center, as politics is getting increasingly divisive.

But you have to have direction with these solutions and market alone won't solve the problem by itself. The Green New Deal calls for both government and business to find solutions.

The center has a my way or the highway attitude as well, as well as self righteousness themselves.

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#6 Posted by Nuck81 (7642 posts) -

Conservatives are getting older as whole.

Democrats are getting younger as a whole.

Stupid people that are easily manipulated have regular access to the internet.

You can't stop progress, you can only slow it down.

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#7 Posted by Serraph105 (33846 posts) -

There are some market based solutions that I think would be very helpful in reversing the effects of climate change, specifically, decreasing the costs of renewable energy sources such as solar and wind and doing so continuously even after the price is below fossil fuels.

This can be done in addition to funding things like nuclear power via taxes and government programs. I have my personal problems with nuclear power, but using it as a stopgap measure is acceptable in my mind. I think if you can give people (meaning rich business owners) the opportunity to save money by switching to renewable energy they'll do so regardless of anything else, including political ideology because the ultimate ideology is money. The research for this can be funded by the government or supplemented by it.

.

.

Now.....whether compromise should be promoted and pursued with people who explicitly do not want to compromise. I'm not at all sure that it should. We don't have tons of time left to combat climate change, and I think it's likely that the time democrats are back in power (if they do regain it) will be even shorter. Trump is showing us that forcing things through regardless of what the people want is actually something that works. Why spend time on policies that won't pass and is watered down anyways when you could spend time successfully ramming things through that are what democrats actually want? Obviously you need to take into account the current layout of congress (whatever that is in the future) and plan accordingly, but if you have the presidency and filibuster proof majorities why bother doing what Obama did and try to compromise?

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#8 Posted by mattbbpl (17208 posts) -

@Serraph105: What are your thoughts on the effect on the overton window? We saw with cap and trade and the ACA that the Democratic position becomes the far left socialist position even when that position is a prior Republican proposal. Does that hurt the chances of passing something meaningful down the line? I think Obama pursued the ACA because he thought it would be an easier political lift, but I'm not convinced that was actually the case.

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#9 Edited by Maroxad (15263 posts) -

@texasgoldrush said:
@Maroxad said:

It is a sad world when contrarianism is what runs countries and decides public policy.

I am more left leaning on this board, and I favor market based solutions to climate change. Based on what I have witnessed in the world, Market Based Solutions seem to have a pretty good track record in countries like china (which is leading the renewable energy sector). But alas it seems sadly most people are too radicalized, to realize that on most issues, both sides DO have a point. But because of how radicalized people are, as well as this my way or the high-way attitude. Practically dooms the center, as politics is getting increasingly divisive.

But you have to have direction with these solutions and market alone won't solve the problem by itself. The Green New Deal calls for both government and business to find solutions.

The center has a my way or the highway attitude as well, as well as self righteousness themselves.

I think a lot of centrists do have direction. It is not as flashy or exciting as AoC and the green new deal (which does look like a pretty good idea for most of the part). But it is safe, pragmatic, and arguably the easiest to implement, or would be, if it werent for the GOP acting the way they do.

Market alone wont solve it, hence why ideas and concepts like carbon pricing can work wonders.

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#10 Posted by texasgoldrush (12882 posts) -

@Maroxad said:
@texasgoldrush said:
@Maroxad said:

It is a sad world when contrarianism is what runs countries and decides public policy.

I am more left leaning on this board, and I favor market based solutions to climate change. Based on what I have witnessed in the world, Market Based Solutions seem to have a pretty good track record in countries like china (which is leading the renewable energy sector). But alas it seems sadly most people are too radicalized, to realize that on most issues, both sides DO have a point. But because of how radicalized people are, as well as this my way or the high-way attitude. Practically dooms the center, as politics is getting increasingly divisive.

But you have to have direction with these solutions and market alone won't solve the problem by itself. The Green New Deal calls for both government and business to find solutions.

The center has a my way or the highway attitude as well, as well as self righteousness themselves.

I think a lot of centrists do have direction. It is not as flashy or exciting as AoC and the green new deal (which does look like a pretty good idea for most of the part). But it is safe, pragmatic, and arguably the easiest to implement, or would be, if it werent for the GOP acting the way they do.

Market alone wont solve it, hence why ideas and concepts like carbon pricing can work wonders.

However AOC's point that social and economic issues have to also be addressed is way on point. Environmental policy fails otherwise.

Avatar image for Maroxad
#11 Posted by Maroxad (15263 posts) -

@texasgoldrush said:
@Maroxad said:
@texasgoldrush said:
@Maroxad said:

It is a sad world when contrarianism is what runs countries and decides public policy.

I am more left leaning on this board, and I favor market based solutions to climate change. Based on what I have witnessed in the world, Market Based Solutions seem to have a pretty good track record in countries like china (which is leading the renewable energy sector). But alas it seems sadly most people are too radicalized, to realize that on most issues, both sides DO have a point. But because of how radicalized people are, as well as this my way or the high-way attitude. Practically dooms the center, as politics is getting increasingly divisive.

But you have to have direction with these solutions and market alone won't solve the problem by itself. The Green New Deal calls for both government and business to find solutions.

The center has a my way or the highway attitude as well, as well as self righteousness themselves.

I think a lot of centrists do have direction. It is not as flashy or exciting as AoC and the green new deal (which does look like a pretty good idea for most of the part). But it is safe, pragmatic, and arguably the easiest to implement, or would be, if it werent for the GOP acting the way they do.

Market alone wont solve it, hence why ideas and concepts like carbon pricing can work wonders.

However AOC's point that social and economic issues have to also be addressed is way on point. Environmental policy fails otherwise.

AOC's point on social issues is DEFINATELY way on point. I am really not a fan of social conservativism.

Economic issues depend on the extent. Australia, Scandinavia have both great economic policies, same with new zealand.

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#12 Posted by Sevenizz (3904 posts) -

I think the Dems are sensing defeat in 2020 so they’re going to go far left in order to centrist themselves in 2024 and come back to earth.

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#13 Edited by SUD123456 (5312 posts) -

Do you want leadership or do you want drones selling ill thought out party schlock? Is the purpose of governance to create a better society or to oversee the re-election of the current ruling class?

The issue is no more complicated than these questions and the answers should be obvious.

Edit: I should make it clear that I am referring to an overall centrist positioning vs the rather absurd notion of a whole host of centrist policies. There are some policies that do lead to a natural centrist position, but there are many centrist policies that are actually just terrible compromise policies: as they are simply I'll conceived nothing burgers that don't move things forward in a material way or even move things backward. This is different than centrist positioning. Centrist positioning will support a mix of policies, some seen as more progressive and some as more conservative on a case by case basis.

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#14 Posted by HoolaHoopMan (10772 posts) -

The pragmatist in me has a hard time making a blanket statement to the fact of 'don't ever reach across the aisle'. I think compromise legislation is still a good idea, but I'm comfortable saying that I think it's a bad idea in certain circumstances. If there is ample evidence that the other party is not acting in good faith e.g. anything regarding climate change, then I'd say **** it. I don't think that attitude is going to work across the board though.

Perhaps my goal of pragmatism is idealistic in nature though, I could be a fool in believing there is still hope in returning to more normalcy.

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#15 Posted by Serraph105 (33846 posts) -

@mattbbpl said:

@Serraph105: What are your thoughts on the effect on the overton window? We saw with cap and trade and the ACA that the Democratic position becomes the far left socialist position even when that position is a prior Republican proposal. Does that hurt the chances of passing something meaningful down the line? I think Obama pursued the ACA because he thought it would be an easier political lift, but I'm not convinced that was actually the case.

It seems like republicans, both political parties really, are masters at slamming the overton window shut on centrist ideas. The folks at Fox news are particularly good at this job. It seems like people, at least people on the left (considering how hard right the republicans have gone), have a harder time doing this as of late with fringe ideas. I suppose we will see if Republicans can do a good job of shutting people like Bernie and AOC down who are further to the left than most other democrats.

I think what hindered democrats in shutting down groups like the alt-right was being too pc and trying their damndest not to acknowledge their growing presence.

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#16 Posted by mattbbpl (17208 posts) -

@HoolaHoopMan: "Perhaps my goal of pragmatism is idealistic in nature though, I could be a fool in believing there is still hope in returning to more normalcy."

The ACA proved to me that bad faith is the default position.

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#17 Posted by Serraph105 (33846 posts) -

@mattbbpl said:

@HoolaHoopMan: "Perhaps my goal of pragmatism is idealistic in nature though, I could be a fool in believing there is still hope in returning to more normalcy."

The ACA proved to me that bad faith is the default position.

I may be naive as well, but I do wonder if we have continuous cycles as a country of being far right, far left, and some middle ground centrism/pragmatism. I could probably do a study of political climates throughout our country's history and see if this is really true, but there are so many takes on what a political climate actually is at any given time that this would likely be a very difficult undertaking.

I would have thought that if there was ever a time people would have come together and try to really fix things it would be after a major economic downturn like the recession, but there was no goddamn peace or even attempts to work across the aisle by republicans (in spite of Obama's insistence on trying) for the good of the country. It was all about getting power back. I've been led to believe the partisanship wasn't as bad in the 90's, but maybe that's just all bullshit. And again, it may just be who you ask, for some it may have been a time when people weren't so concerned about government, believing that no matter who was in charge it would all generally be okay, and for others it may have been the utmost important thing that one side get power back because everything was going to hell.

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#18 Edited by HoolaHoopMan (10772 posts) -

@mattbbpl said:

@HoolaHoopMan: "Perhaps my goal of pragmatism is idealistic in nature though, I could be a fool in believing there is still hope in returning to more normalcy."

The ACA proved to me that bad faith is the default position.

Not disagreeing with you on the ACA negotiations. That's about as bad as it gets when it comes to trying to scuttle an important issue for partisan means.

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#19 Edited by blaznwiipspman1 (7205 posts) -

Article is on point. These flaky half baked policies are ripe for political intervention. So the best solution is not to go for middle ground, but stick to the ideals. The left would be a bunch of morons if they vote for a centrist leader. You need someone highly idealistic and doesn't back down. Of course, increasing the debt is a bad idea, but cutting spending in republican programs, like the military and redistributing that money to the poor and middle class would guarantee votes.

Lower education costs, health care costs through extreme methods, such as deregulation. Guaranteed vote buyer. Just remember to do two things. Don't increase the debt and help out the poor/middle class. Showmanship can also help, as trump found out.

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#20 Posted by sonicare (56760 posts) -

How do you reduce income inequality? I don't like polarization of wealth. I'd be for better education, but I'm absolutely against the government deciding who should make what or trying to redistribute wealth based on their own misguided logic.

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#21 Edited by KungfuKitten (26643 posts) -

(I am reading income inequality with increasing frequency. Be aware that inequality of wealth or capital is going to be the bigger problem as the rich get richer.)

@blaznwiipspman1 [...]but cutting spending in republican programs, like the military and redistributing that money to the poor and middle class would guarantee votes.[...]

I hope you are right about that, but I also vividly remember the speeches of presidential candidates on TV during previous elections, and how they would pretty much all end with "and more money to the war machine" and the crowd would cheer the loudest at that particular point. To an outsider like me, it seemed like a deep-rooted thing. I'm sure there is a way to uproot it, but I don't know it's easy.

@Serraph105 I agree with you that not only the recession itself but also the way people dealt with the recession has been... a good example of what greed can do to people.

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#22 Posted by Serraph105 (33846 posts) -

@KungfuKitten said:
@Serraph105 I agree with you that not only the recession itself but also the way people dealt with the recession has been... a good example of what greed can do to people.

You know, I just realized something. When the recession hit hard it was a fairly chaotic time and republicans did everything they could to grab power back and the rich did everything they could to grab as much money as they could, and you know who also takes advantage of chaos to get power and wealth? Literal terrorists. It's exactly what ISIS did after we bombed the hell out of the middle east for years. No they're not in the same league as one another, but it's literally the same tactics.

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#23 Posted by mattbbpl (17208 posts) -

@Serraph105: Republicans intentionally harmed their own countrymen economically in order to gain political power. I wouldn't liken them to terrorists myself, but they absolutely deserve contempt for it.