Battlepanda: Here comes the New Progressives


Always trying to figure things out with the minimum of bullshit and the maximum of belligerence.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Here comes the New Progressives

I tuned in to the panel on New Progressivism hosted by the Center for American Progress and Washington Monthly on C-span today. It seems like New Progressivism is focused relentlessly on bread-and-butter economic issues, with a rather bland sauce of pro-family, pro-worker rhetoric dressing up a passionately wonky heart.

Well, good! If you are more interested in policy rather than politics, this is what you want to hear. There were no Big Ideas on display. Just practical ideas that could have big impacts on families. It does come across as a little bit bloodless, but given how radioactive many sane liberal ideas like universal healthcare has become to the American public, incremental changes with progress they can feel in their pocketbooks might be a lot more effective than trying to sell them a full bill of goods at once.

Some random thoughts:

1)Paternal libertarianism: A lot of buzz on this, but there is something that feels doomed about trying to promulgate something that is literally an oxymoron. And besides, why would you want to fashion a description for your policy by combining two ideas with (to me, anyhow) negative cultural baggage? Which is too bad, because the underlying concept that the clunky term "paternal libertarianism" seeks to describe is good. Simply put, as the volume of choices we are asked to make increase, we need more guidance to help us make choices that are good for us. More information is not always useful because we are already overloaded with information, therefore the optimal option for the most people should always be the default. A better choice of terms to describe this process could be "structured choice" or "path marking".

2) I can see that the panelists are really proud of themselves when giving their answers to the question: "What is the morality underlying your policy" -- Yay family, we have values too, etc, etc. But something doesn't quite sound right to me. Maybe it's because I know their well-rehearsed answers are honed by many articles on how the Dems need to find good framing. It just doesn't quite ring true for me yet.

3) Kevin Drum is younger than I expected him to be from his photo on the ol' Cal Pundit blog.