All of this writing and data analysis is a lot of work! So after more than five years of posting, I've finally launched a Patreon to help pay the bills.

6/6/19

It would be extremely good if the GOP moved left on economic issues

I do not actually think that the Republican party is moving left on economics. Judging by the caveat at the end of his latest piece - Tucker Carlson’s Praise for Elizabeth Warren Should Scare Democrats - I don't think Eric Levitz does, either.

Still, I think we should be clear about this: as the dysfunctions of liberal capitalism escalate and socialists articulate a clear, compelling alternative to laissez faire austerity, we should absolutely expect the popular consensus on economic questions to shift to the left. And we should want this to happen. We should want deregulation and tax cuts for the rich and attacks on organized labor and welfare to become so politically toxic that even our right-wing parties are afraid to touch it.

It's entirely possible that political success could create some perplexing new party dynamics for the left to navigate. Perhaps this is just the start of a virtuous cycle where Democrats keep shifting to the left on economic and social questions in order to outflank Republicans. Perhaps we'll see the perverse dynamic Levitz worries about - a Republican party that keeps moving to the left on certain economic issues while maintaining reactionary positions on other issues, while Democrats maintain liberal positions on social issues but stay where they are (or even drift right) on economics. In this case, one can imagine the left responding just as it does today: choosing the lesser evil and trying to improve its politics, or abandoning entryism and working to build a new party. Perhaps, hilariously, the political poles will reverse: Republicans will drift left on economics and get woke on social issues, while Democrats race to fill the right-flank void. This seems, put gently, far less likely, but even then the left's strategy would not be terribly different than it is right now.

Unless you believe that any progress on certain economic issues must necessarily come at the expense of progress on other issues, leftists should welcome the new challenges and the new party alignments that we are likely to face moving forward. They are probably unknowable for now and they will certainly give us headaches when they come, but I'd rather have a headache in a country with universal healthcare than in one without it.