David Brooks notices in the New York Times column “The Vanishing Neoliberal” that larger and louder Liberals are overwhelming Centrists in the Democratic Party.
…On policy matters, the neoliberals were liberal but not too liberal. They rejected interest-group politics and were suspicious of brain-dead unions. They tended to be hawkish on foreign policy, positive about capitalism, reformist when it came to the welfare state, and urbane but not militant on feminism and other social issues.
The neoliberal movement begat politicians like Paul Tsongas, Al Gore (the 1980s and â€™90s version) and Bill Clinton. It also set the tone for mainstream American journalism. Today, you canâ€™t swing an ax in a major American newsroom without hitting six people who used to work at The New Republic or The Washington Monthly. Influenced by their sensibility, many major news organizations became neoliberal institutions, whether they knew it or not.
Neoliberals often have an air of perpetual youthfulness about them, but they are now in their 40s, 50s and even their 60s, and a younger generation of bloggers set off a backlash…
Apparently young liberal turks “…donâ€™t want a neoliberal movement that moderates and reforms. They want a Democratic Party that fights. Their tone is much more confrontational. They want to read articles that affirm their anger. They are also further to the left, driven there by Iraq on foreign policy matters and by wage stagnation on economic matters.
…Over all, whatâ€™s happening is this: The left, which has the momentum, is growing more uniform and coming to look more like its old, pre-neoliberal self. The right is growing more fractious. And many of those who were semiaffiliated with one party or another are drifting off to independent-land…”
If true, this is a disappointing trend. It seems to me that many of us “independents” are D’s and R’s alienated from the extreme and closed-minded tone of our former parties. Yet it does seem natural that passionate hot bloods in both wings capture the most attention and press. Unfortunately the quieter and wiser elements who value deliberation, and appreciate the complexities of social and economic systems are not nearly as entertaining when talking about moderation and collaboration.
But I am encouraged that so far the front runners for President are all relative moderates who, as demonstrated by their actual histories and behavior, embrace cooperation and give frequent and eloquent voice to the value of mutual respect in crafting public policy.
I hope that Mr. Brooks’ report of the waning of the moderate movement is somewhat exaggerated. And I am always in search of how to do my part to keep that momentum moving forward.
Born 1950, Married, Living in Austin Texas, Semi
Retired Small Business owner and investor. My political interest
evolved out of his business experience that the best decisions come out of an objective gathering of information and a pragmatic consideration of costs and benefits. I am interested in promoting Centrist candidates and Policies. My posts are mostly about people and policies that I believe are part of the solution rather the problem.