Saturday, July 27, 2019

Matt Yglesias, Common Sense Democrat

I don't normally think of Vox as my go-to place for Common Sense Democrat material. More often than not they're six feet under in the identity politics tank.
Matt Yglesias can be an exception though and he is savvy enough to be disciplined by actually-existing data. He has an excellent piece up on the not-exactly-rocket-science idea that "Democrats should run on the popular progressive ideas, but not the unpopular ones". (Point #6 of the Common Sense Democrat creed!)
"Most voters are not particularly attuned to factional debates, and they just like some ideas and not others. Rather than clinging to one or the other comprehensive agenda, Democrats might want to consider opening themselves up to the idea of just running on popular ideas."
Say, now there's an idea!
"Marist’s numbers, for reference, show overwhelming public support for a path to citizenship for the undocumented population, for an aggressive public option approach to universal health care, and for a “Green New Deal” of public investment in clean energy and efficient retrofits. Add that to a $15/hour minimum wage, throw in two high-polling gun control measures, legalize marijuana, and pay for the first two things with a wealth tax, and you’ve got a solidly popular vision for transforming America.
But even though these ideas are popular and progressive, it doesn’t follow that the entire progressive agenda is popular.
Insisting on a pure single-payer solution, which many on the left has turned into a litmus test, doesn’t seem very popular. Opening up public sector health programs to people residing in the United States illegally — an idea every Democrat endorsed on the second night of the first primary debates — is very unpopular. So is decriminalizing border crossing and providing reparations for slavery. Abolishing the death penalty, which electability-oriented moderate Joe Biden came out for this week, polls very poorly. A carbon tax does not do very well either.....
That’s no reason to avoid running on 17 substantively solid, politically popular ideas if you’ve got them. But if it turns out you only have nine, that’s not so bad. Odds are that nine is a lot more than you can do.
Which is to say that there’s no reason practically to insist on weighing down the ticket with ideas (“free health care for illegal immigrants”) that won’t pass anyway, Democrats could focus on a narrower list of progressive ideas that are popular (a path to citizenship for the undocumented would, among other things, help them get health care) win the election, and then implement those ideas.
Democrats would have to let go of some cherished ideological nostrums (like reparations) and party feuds (like over abolishing private insurance). But the strictly popular items on the list are a genuinely ambitious progressive agenda that would, if implemented, help improve the lives of hundreds of millions of Americans. And the stakes are extremely high."
I've really got nothing to add here other than a hearty Common Sense Democrat right on, brother!
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