A final post for me (for now; I’m out of breath) on last night’s debate and mainstream journalists’ coverage of it
E.J. Dionne just posted a column online that will be published in tomorrow’s Washington Post. Here are its last three paragraphs:
But the debate’s most substantive contribution was to the larger philosophical argument the country needs to have in 2016. Republicans plainly still believe their central mission is cutting taxes, shredding regulations and shrinking government. Americans who agree should vote for them.
Democrats clearly believe that government has a role to play in solving the problems of unequal opportunity, imbalances between family life and work, concentrated economic power and wage stagnation. Clinton’s best personal moment may have been when she defended mandated paid family leave from the critique advanced by Republican contender Carly Fiorina that it would be an excessive burden on small business.
Clinton went straight at the GOP’s contradictions: “It’s always the Republicans or their sympathizers who say, ‘You can’t have paid leave, you can’t provide health care,’ ” she said. “They don’t mind having big government to interfere with a woman’s right to choose and to try to take down Planned Parenthood. . . . We should not be paralyzed by the Republicans and their constant refrain, ‘big government this, big government that.’ ”
And one way to end this paralysis is to show, as Sanders is doing, that social democratic countries — including Denmark, another of the night’s stars — have thrived over the years with far more social provisions than we have.
Setting the boundaries of debate is one of the most important tasks in politics. We now have a more realistic sense of the choices before us: Sanders’s unapologetic democratic socialism, Clinton’s progressive capitalism, and the Republicans’ disdain for government altogether. Guess who occupies the real political center?
I love this column. For one thing, it reminded me of the one line of Clinton’s that warmed my heart: “We should not be paralyzed by the Republicans and their constant refrain, ‘big government this, big government that.’ ”
For another, I can’t think of a more apt description of what my candidate, Bernie Sanders, has done. And it shows that Clinton’s sleight of hand will not work. She’s won’t after all get away with conflating Denmark and the old Soviet Union.