The End of Expansion Economics
4:09 PM, Nov 3, 2008 • By MATTHEW CONTINETTI
Be sure to check out Robert J. Samuelson's Newsweek cover story on the financial crisis. Warning: It's not a pick-me-upper.
Here's a key quote:
This dovetails somewhat with Peter Beinart's analysis that the culture wars are over:
A couple of caveats. First, there's always a rush to pronounce this-and-that political era "over" before the results are in. Also, analysts tend to, well, over-analyze. There's a pretty simple explanation for why economic concerns are at the top of voters' priorities. The economy stinks. Voters will be concerned about the economy for as long as it stinks. When it no longer stinks, cultural issues will return to the fore. Or, when a significant national security event occurs - as usually happens when the economy stinks for an extended period - voters are going to start worrying about national security. This isn't rocket science.
Second, Palin is not exactly the culture warrior liberal analysts make her out to be. She rarely mentions social issues on the stump. If you read this piece in today's Times, you learn that, on the trail, Palin is most passionate about special-needs children. That isn't a divisive issue. Palin, moreover, mentions her faith far less than some pundits do. And during the vice presidential debate, she implied that there was almost no difference between the two tickets on the issue of same-sex marriage.
Palin has not hesitated to go after Obama's associations and his economic policies. But to ask why Obama would associate with Bill Ayers is not necessarily to engage in a high-minded discussion of the "legacy of the sixties." Rather, it is to raise questions about the character of the Democratic nominee. After all, Bill Ayers isn't a fashionable painter or photographer. He's not Jane Fonda. He's a former domestic terrorist. Can we at least agree on that?
The GOP ticket's embrace of Joe the Plumber and Tito the Builder also has little to do with the culture war. It is, instead, an embrace of populist economics. It's a signal that the GOP is aligning with tradesmen against professionals, who are overwhelmingly pro-Obama. This type of distributional politics is what Samuelson is talking about in his article and new book.
Values politics may take shelter during this economic storm. But the new politics of class resentment won't be any prettier.