The Private Intellectual
Ecclesiastes-Based Real Estate Advice

Sunday, March 21, 2010  



It’s true that Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society—Civil Rights Act, Voting Rights Act, Medicare, Medicaid, Title I federal education spending, and a suite of other anti-poverty programs—played a roll in the unraveling of the New Deal coalition. At the same time, the Civil Rights Act has not been repealed. Nor has Medicare. Nor has Medicaid. Nor has the Voting Rights Act. Federal aid to education for the poor is more firmly entrenched than ever in the landscape. Some of the other Johnson-era anti-poverty programs have been repealed or substantially scaled back. But we’re overwhelmingly living in Lyndon Johnson’s America, whereas Barry Goldwater’s alternative vision of a backwards and brutal society in which the poor and elderly languish without health care and African-Americans eat at separate lunch counters is so discredited that Goldwater’s heirs and admirers generally refuse to admit that this is what he stood for.

Look, I know better than most how much it sucks to lose in politics. I've been involved in a lot of losing campaigns, sometimes for people I've known very well. It's hard. But ultimately politics is not about warming a chair in an assembly hall somewhere. It's about doing things like making sure black Americans have access to the ballot box and funding schools for poor kids and reforming the health care system. That will cost you some votes and some support, and that's hard, but it's far harder to be a sharecropper who can't vote, a poor kid who can't get educated, or a forty year old with a chronic illness that insurance won't cover. I, for one, would be proud to risk my seat over this issue, and I don't have much charity for people who wouldn't.

Yglesias's comment comes in response to Newt Gingrich comparing health care reform to Civil Rights as a coalition-busting issue, which just goes to show once again that Newt Gingrich exquisitely combines stupidity and amorality in one big plastic blister. For someone like him, power is all that matters--not that he was any good at using or keeping it. The idea that politics is about doing good things is just totally lost on him. This perhaps explains why liberals lose a lot of elections but conservatives, over time, always lose on substance.

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posted by Benjamin Dueholm | 3:28 PM
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