Some folks out of Yale Law are starting a new publication called “Opening Argument,” “founded on the belief that most people are reasonable and much public commentary is not.” The first issue looks promising, with election-inspired commentary from Nancy Pelosi, Peter Schuck, Ryan Sager, and Reihan Salam. Schuck, ala Michels, offers a “wake-up call” to a Democratic party he views as too beholden to its base:
In crucial respects, the Democratic base . . . seems clueless about what the rest of America is like. America is deeply religious. The base is deeply secular. America is unabashedly patriotic. The base views outward patriotism as hokey and manipulative, if not embarrassing. . . Simply put, the base wishes that American society were more like Europe, and America does not.
The religion-friendly campaigns of Harold Ford and Bob Casey appear to show that some Dems are heeding Schuck’s advice. Jacob Hacker’s recent work The Great Risk Shift complements Schuck’s point of view, insisting that Democrats should emphasize insecurity, rather than inequality, as a key problem of economic policy, in order to broaden their appeal.
Whatever the results of the current election, Weekly Standard writer Reihan Salam warns Republicans that “every powerful social trend is moving in favor of redistributive, social-democratic politics:”
[C]onsider the sharp increase in income inequality we’ve seen during the post-Reagan years. . . [Managerial workers are] resistant to tax increases so they tend to vote for Republicans. Their days as a viable economic class, however, are numbered. . . . Living under conditions of diminished earnings power and smaller houses, it’s easy to imagine even well-off Americans growing resentful of the ultra-rich, and calling for more redistribution.
Regardless of whether you agree with Schuck or Salam, these are certainly some interesting “opening arguments.” They remind me of the pragmatism and realism I associate with my colleague Shavar Jeffries (at BlackProf) and the unconventionally sensible Tyler Cowen (at Marginal Revolution).