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Monday, October 23, 2006

Paul Krugman: Don't Make Nice

Paul Krugman tells Democrats that, should they gain power in the upcoming election, it would be a mistake to give into calls for reconciliation and bipartisanship since that will not end the divisiveness that plagues the political process. Instead, Democrats need to stand strongly against any compromises to their core principles and values and fully investigate "the origins of the Iraq war and the cronyism and corruption that undermined it":

Don’t Make Nice, by Paul Krugman, If They Win..., Commentary, NY Times: Now that the Democrats are strongly favored to capture at least one house of Congress, they’re getting a lot of unsolicited advice, with many people urging them to walk and talk softly if they win.

I hope the Democrats don’t follow this advice — because it’s bad for their party and, more important, bad for the country. In the long run, it’s even bad for the cause of bipartisanship.

There are those who say that a confrontational stance will backfire politically on the Democrats. These are by and large the same people who told Democrats that attacking the Bush administration over Iraq would backfire in the midterm elections. Enough said.

Political considerations aside, American voters deserve to have their views represented in Congress. And according to opinion polls, ... the public wants politicians to stand up to corporate interests. ...[T]he latest Newsweek poll ... shows overwhelming public support for the agenda Nancy Pelosi has ... if she becomes House speaker. The strongest support is for her plan to have Medicare negotiate with drug companies for lower prices, which is supported by 74 percent of Americans — and by 70 percent of Republicans!

What the make-nice crowd wants most of all is for the Democrats to forswear any investigations into the origins of the Iraq war and the cronyism and corruption that undermined it. But it’s very much in the national interest to find out what led to the greatest strategic blunder in American history, so that it won’t happen again.

What’s more, the public wants to know. ...[A]ccording to the Newsweek poll, 58 percent of Americans believe that investigating contracting in Iraq isn’t just a good idea, but a high priority; 52 percent believe the same about investigating the origins of the war.

Why, then, should the Democrats hold back? Because, we’re told, the country needs less divisiveness. And I, too, would like to see a return to kinder, gentler politics. But that’s not something Democrats can achieve with a group hug and a chorus of “Kumbaya.” ...

As long as polarization is integral to the G.O.P.’s strategy, Democrats can’t do much, if anything, to narrow the partisan divide. Even if they try to act in a bipartisan fashion, their opponents will find a way to divide the nation — which is what happened to the great surge of national unity after 9/11. One thing we might learn from investigations is the extent to which the Iraq war itself was motivated by the desire to have another wedge issue.

There are those who believe that the partisan gap can be bridged if the Democrats nominate an attractive presidential candidate who speaks in uplifting generalities. But they must have been living under a rock these past 15 or so years. Whoever the Democrats nominate will feel the full force of the Republican slime machine...

The truth is that we won’t get a return to bipartisanship until or unless the G.O.P. decides that polarization doesn’t work as a political strategy. The last great era of bipartisanship began after the 1948 election, when Republicans, shocked by Harry Truman’s victory, decided to stop trying to undo the New Deal. And that example suggests that the best thing the Democrats can do, not just for their party and their country, but for the cause of bipartisanship, is what Truman did: stand up strongly for their principles.

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Previous (10/20) column: Paul Krugman: Incentives for the Dead
Next (10/27) column: Paul Krugman: The Arithmetic of Failure

    Posted by on Monday, October 23, 2006 at 12:15 AM in Economics, Iraq and Afghanistan, Politics | Permalink  TrackBack (1)  Comments (152)

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    » Advice for the Democrats from Pacific Views

    As the election grew closer and signs showed that Democrats had a very good chance to take at least one chamber of Congress, a number pundits provided advice and warnings about what the Democrats should and should not do. Many... [Read More]

    Tracked on Monday, December 18, 2006 at 08:21 AM


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