Virtual Politics

Thursday, September 13, 2007

In his new book The Argument: Billionaires, Bloggers, and the Battle to Remake Democratic Politics (Penguin, 2007), Matt Bai, studied what is at the heart of the Democratic party and whether Democrats can get over what divides them to succeed in 2008.

The Argument is available for purchase at

Matt Bai will be reading on Tuesday, September 18th at 7:00 PM, at the Barnes & Noble on the Upper West Side, 2289 Broadway (@82nd St).


Matt Bai

Comments [18]

Trevor from LIC

Why, because I used the word "minority"? Cutbacks on social services are deemed unnecessary by Republicans because they are closet racists; those social services tend to benefit "minorities" in many ways. I see no reason to "correct" myself over petty terminology-- you knew what I meant. Don't jump onto a message calling others "ingnorant"-- anyone who regularly reads the WNYC boards knows I'm not a typical "white liberal".

So much for not squabbling...

Sep. 13 2007 12:54 PM

European style social democracy is inefficent. I think the United States needs to do a better job balancing the different views of power. For example between big business, mom and pop shops and labor. Don't get me wrong, I know the market has it's failure but the governments job should be nothing more than to balance the different points of view and act as a honest broker.

At one time, business was doing the job of providing benefits to the workers but with globalization the cost of health insurance coverage and pensions has made it difficult for the US companies to compete. So we need to develop a new model that forges the private/public sector together in a competitive way. The government should be looking at the structures of corporations and developing an intelligent model of corporate goverence.

Sep. 13 2007 12:51 PM
AWM from UWS


"cutting off services to minorities?"

You sound like an ignorant person who is trying to sound like he's not ingnorant and is inclusive... the type of people Bush lovers think that all white liberals are. You should correct yourself there.

Sep. 13 2007 12:08 PM
Norman from New York

You want a vision? How about European-style social democracy, with government-guaranteed universal health care, free college education, public transportation like railroads, low-cost child care, and public housing?

The Europeans can afford all that, and we could easily afford it too by simply taxing the rich -- the 20% who make 50% of the income in this country.

Sep. 13 2007 11:59 AM
chestine from NY

I think capitalism is not bad in itself but we need to allow it only to the extent that it serves the country and its people. Those boundaries have been long since violated. Much of what we have could not have been built without investment with other people's capital - but we have really let it get out of control and i am guessing this pivots on Ike's discovery post WWII when he left office: the night before JFK was inaugurated he urged us not to lose control of the military industrial complex born of the very lucrative war industry which we had never before seen - he warned us to be careful and as i watch that on youtube now i get teh feeling that they had tried muscling him out of his own power as president. Would that be something to know about, how it went for Ike in office -

Sep. 13 2007 11:41 AM
Trevor from LIC

Republicans today aren't really true conservatives anyway-- they vote against "Big Government" when it means cutting off services to minorities or preventing logging companies from razing forests, but are more than willing to use the Federal Reserve to bail out their mortgage bank buddies and spend SPEND SPEND on military contracts. That's the hypocrisy.

So while Bush is running up record deficits, Clinton actually had created a surplus at one point. If conservatives actually were for "small government", then I might actually believe their thought constitutes genuine political philosophy. Instead, they use government to tell women they can't have abortions if they want, people who use marijuana belong in prison with violent criminals, and prayer should be in schools.

Sep. 13 2007 11:38 AM
Eric Cato from B'klyn

Why did Bill CLinton dis Edwards?

Sep. 13 2007 11:37 AM
Robert from NYC

We all miss Bill Clinton but that's because we ended up with one of our history's biggest horrors to the constitution and to everything we stand (stood?) for. But remember this horror gets support from a lot of people. We have a very sick segment in our society who are followers, question nothing and except everything from the people in power whom they seem to worship.

Sep. 13 2007 11:34 AM
chestine from NY

I tend toward left but i do see our govt institutions do not serve us at maximum efficiency (medicare seemed to do OK for awhile) - good ideas come from all points of view and one thing John Dean is pointing out about his former brethren are not capable of seeing any other possible point of view differing from their own. I think we are undermined by multinational corporations and need to reclaim or at least create a balance.

Sep. 13 2007 11:32 AM
whoindatgarden from brooklyn

Right Democrats wont necessarily get rid of the agencies. The point being made is that when the Republican Party stands for Less Government what does that mean.
People need to understand that Capitalism in it's purest state is about profit maximization at all cost, thus a Merck would not like to be held accountable for a Vioxx like fiasco and almost every business tries to get away with not doing the right thing unless required to do so.

One should read the debates that have been had to create the various regulatory bodies we have.
Unless you are able to articulate why the role and responsibility of Government in a manner that it gains the trust of the people back and provides a system of being the Honest Broker for society it wont matter whether Republicans or Democrats are in power.

Sep. 13 2007 11:32 AM
Trevor from LIC

So Robert I take it you must endorse coalition governments where two polarized radical parties hold power over a population that doesn't share their views?

A lot of New Yorkers probably forget this, but most Americans are genuinely "ideologically dogmaless" and truly are moderate-- that's why big tent parties win elections, and the Democrats should be a big tent party of numerous denominations.

Sep. 13 2007 11:31 AM
chestine from NY

I think John Dean is very interesting on "process" - how they do things in the Republican party, not what they purportedly stand for - and the authoritarian personality - i think the democrats should be looking at their "process" for answers and directions. I couldn't tell you what i think it is because i don't know who they are any more. I can't believe I am thinking I want Barack because he made so much money from little people which means he will be beholden to them. I am sure he is qualified to pick great advisers. I do miss Bill Clinton.

Sep. 13 2007 11:26 AM
Robert from NYC

oops, I sent this to the wrong segment. But here it is...

Yes, being in the "center" is the middle and thus mediocre:

1586, from Fr. médiocre, from L. mediocris "of middling height or state," originally "halfway up a mountain," from medius "middle" (see medial) + ocris "jagged mountain" (cf. Gk. okris "peak, point," Welsh ochr "corner, border," L. acer "sharp;" see acrid). Mediocrity is first recorded 1531, from M.Fr. médiocrité, from L. mediocritatem (nom. mediocritas) "a middling condition," from mediocris.

And so that is to be "nowhere". People in the "center" (mediocre) are poison.

Sep. 13 2007 11:25 AM
Trevor from LIC

Why would Democrats get rid of all those agencies? Democrats aren't libertarians...


Sep. 13 2007 11:23 AM
Baba from brooklyn

It is interesting to ask these questions.
So far I have not seen anyone in the Democratic caucus define the very notion of what it means to have Small Government as what seems to be the corner stone of the Republican Party.
Why don't the Democrats state they would also be for Small Government and in stating that go about dismantling all the various Agencies that have been created after a tough long fight, Lets get rid of the FDA, EPA, DEA, FCC, SEC, NIH, DARPA, NASA, HHS and any other Departments that we have and just leave the Treasury and Defense departments.
Until and unless Democrats can articulate clearly what it means to have less government and show why all these agencies came to be in the first place they are not going to get their values heard.
If the people in this country don't wakeup they will be part of the the world trend that is creating more and more Oligarchies and not Democracies.

Sep. 13 2007 11:22 AM
Trevor from LIC

Of course the New Deal is not the end of Democratic strategy, but catering to free market, pro business ideas will simply destroy the foundation of the party anyway (if there is one left) and we will truly have one single party of corporations and special interests.

Social democracy is not an anachronism.

Sep. 13 2007 11:12 AM
Trevor from LIC

Democrats SHOULD focus on nothing but winning in 2008; what to stand for or what to actually do can come afterward (as it inevitably does...).

Just get the Republicans out on the local, state, and federal level-- there will need to be a MASSIVE coalition politicians to counter the Supreme Court we'll be stuck with long after Bush is gone.

Secondly, I'm tired of hearing pundits with usually nothing to say and reiterate the notion that Democrats stand for nothing. People hear this message again and again and think it reflects reality-- look at the Democratic candidates like Gravel or Kucinich and I think there is an obvious platform that is not purely reactionary, unlike the Republicans.

Its 2007 Democrats-- don't start the inner squabbling now.

Sep. 13 2007 11:08 AM
Nick from Austin

I think this is a moot point. Democrats these days are the party of "other". It is the party of independents that don't fit with the Republicans. Everybody in the Democratic Party has their own views and so you need to look to the candidate, not to the party to understand what you are voting for.

Sep. 13 2007 11:08 AM

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