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July 02, 2005

Ideas

In a piece full of very good parts, this has to be my favorite of Jon Chait's many perfect paragraphs knifing the Democrats lack ideas meme:

A related assumption is that new ideas are better than old ones. This meme has gained particular currency during the Social Security debate. For instance, conservative privatization advocate Peter Ferrara dismissed liberal foe Robert Ball as a "well-meaning gentleman who hasn't had a new idea in 40 years." The accusation resonates with many liberals. The Democrats' economic policy, as labor leader Andrew Stern told Matt Bai of The New York Times Magazine, "is basically being opposed to Republicans and protecting the New Deal. It makes me realize how vibrant the Republicans are in creating twenty-first-century ideas, and how sad it is that we're defending 60-year-old ideas."

I can't tell you the enjoyment I get from watching professed followers of Edmund Burke demand that Democrats stop protecting old ideas and realize the many virtues of newness. That no policy or idea can last more than 70 years without requiring radical overhaul is such a violent attack on the philosophical foundations of conservatism, not to mention the dictionary's definition of the word, that it's beyond belief, particularly in a party where so many sniff about their deep immersion in conservative intellectual traditions. But as Chait says elsewhere in the piece, the conservative superiority in "ideas" often reflects nothing more than a greater capacity for hypocrisy. Seems the same would go for their advantage in philosophy.

July 2, 2005 | Permalink

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» The Battle of Ideas from Brad DeLong's Website
Even the neoconservative New Republic agrees that the Democrats have won the battle of ideas! Ezra Klein quotes from the excellent Jonathan Chait: Ezra Klein: Ideas: In a piece full of very good parts, this has to be my favorite of Jon Chait's many per... [Read More]

Tracked on Jul 4, 2005 6:20:39 PM

Comments

Yeah really, I love it when the republicans bitch about social security:

"Democrats have no nwe ideas."

We had the first, great idea, and it's called Social Security. And its lasted and prospered for abouty 70 years.

Posted by: Tony | Jul 2, 2005 6:51:29 PM

The assumption that Democrats have no new ideas cracks me up, because Republicans have never had a new idea. Their only idea is to return things to the way they were.

Posted by: Amanda Marcotte | Jul 2, 2005 8:06:08 PM

Republicans have never had a new idea. Their only idea is to return things to the way they were.

Well, Panda-Puss seems to be saying "We're not any worse than the other side" or "They ain't got nothin' either". Now, that's some argument....not to mention it is blatantly wrong.
The truth is, the Republicans have had lots of new ideas, Democrats just didn't like them. Just addressing the issue of SS and getting people talking about it is, in itself, a new idea. Bankruptcy reform is another. Tort reform is a hot one as well.
Instead, the predictable "They want to turn back the clock" drum is beaten over and over. If we wanted to hear that, we could all log on to Pandagon and gotten all of that as well as the "it's all men's fault" bullshit.
Please, spare us all.

Posted by: Robert Zimmerman | Jul 2, 2005 9:31:48 PM

In all honesty we could use some new ideas. In my mind liberalism is about using leadership in order to accomplish great new projects that improve our society.

When we rest on our heels and defend our past achievements, the question becomes one of preserving or dismantling the New Deal. Bit by bit (due to the desire of some to be "moderate" and a desire to compromise) conservatives are able to chip away at our achievements. By coming out with new ideas they are obliged to fight the new ideas rather than try to dismantle our previous accomplishments. Right now our only really big idea that is left is universal healthcare which for the reasoins described above we should be pushing for. Other than defending and expanding previously achieved civil rights or in the case of gay rights just begininng to achieve them, this is all we have left to do with our current set of ideas (other than micro-policy projects that typified much of the Clinton administration).

So we could use some new ideas. Possibly a grand transportation system overhaul. The idea of government subsidies for economic exploitation of space. I've got some none fully-formed ideas floating around in my head. Overall, liberals could do a lot more to think of some new ideas.

Posted by: Lavoisier1794 | Jul 2, 2005 10:44:06 PM

The assumption that Democrats have no new ideas cracks me up, because Republicans have never had a new idea. Their only idea is to return things to the way they were.

Amanda,

This doesn't really apply to the Republicans. They're conservatives who want at best (from our perspective) to stop addition changes and at worst to roll back things to the "ways things used to be." As liberals/progressives were supposed to unite society to push for ideas that will lead to new accomplishments.

Posted by: Lavoisier1794 | Jul 2, 2005 10:48:05 PM

The very fact that we're even having this conversation shows how completely the Republicans can dominate an issue just by saying the same thing over and over without any support whatsoever.

For gosh sakes, Democrats came up with the internet! We want everybody's kids to have health care, we have some rather clever notions on how to handle US security, and we are going to continue to come up with new ways to handle things like pensions, education, and scientific advancement. Republicans have absolutely nothing compared to the Democratic achievement or wish list.

Posted by: Kimmitt | Jul 3, 2005 4:25:13 AM

I can think of an idea we're all still defending that will be celebrating its 229th birthday tomorrow.

Posted by: Julie O. | Jul 3, 2005 6:02:18 PM

"We have some rather clever notions on how to handle US security."

Really? Just out of curiosity, what are they? :) I've been following things avidly and can't remember hearing one concrete suggestion from the Democrats. Do they even have a policy on the war in Iraq now? What is it? Soundbites about being "tougher on terrorism" aren't enough, and that's all I've really heard.


Posted by: Mike | Jul 5, 2005 12:17:18 AM

I've been following things avidly and can't remember hearing one concrete suggestion from the Democrats.

You should be looking at other news sources. Watch cspan? Check the websites of, say,

Posted by: TJ | Jul 5, 2005 10:29:42 AM

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Posted by: peter.w | Sep 17, 2007 3:33:40 AM

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