Against Civility

Krugman is shrill:

Which brings me to those calls for a bipartisan solution. Sorry to be cynical, but right now “bipartisan” is usually code for assembling some conservative Democrats and ultraconservative Republicans — all of them with close ties to the wealthy, and many who are wealthy themselves — and having them proclaim that low taxes on high incomes and drastic cuts in social insurance are the only possible solution.

This would be a corrupt, undemocratic way to make decisions about the shape of our society even if those involved really were wise men with a deep grasp of the issues. It’s much worse when many of those at the table are the sort of people who solicit and believe the kind of policy analyses that the Heritage Foundation supplies.

So let’s not be civil. Instead, let’s have a frank discussion of our differences. In particular, if Democrats believe that Republicans are talking cruel nonsense, they should say so — and take their case to the voters.

I’ve been saying this for years, but in the Beltway press, conservative views are normative. It’s no surprise when allegedly Serious pundits fawn over Paul Ryan’s “tax cuts for the rich, austerity for the middle class” budget plan. It’s no surprise that when the President makes a fairly timid defense of a social safety network which has succeeded in keeping tens of millions of Americans out of poverty when they get old or sick is viewed as shameful partisanship. The only thing which is remotely surprising is the continued willingness of so many people in the Democratic Party to accept any press framing which makes conservative views normative. Normally I’d explain that as being connected to the fact that huge swaths of Democrats with actual power, unlike the Congressional Progressive Caucus, actually agree with these conservative policies and austerity. But in this case, when even a mild attempt to hold the line is met by cries of unseemly partisanship, I have to think that the luminaries on the Hill and in the White House will exhibit the elemental instinct for self-preservation and stand up for themselves.

On Friday the House Republicans passed Ryan’s budget and positioned themselves as the party which seeks to eliminate Medicare to pay for more tax cuts for millionaires. Opposing this politically couldn’t possibly be easier, but at the end of the day, the best hope for our country is that all Democrats actually oppose this from an ideological perspective too. We don’t need more civility and bipartisanship. We need unfiltered partisanship in defense of the programs which make America a great place to live, regardless of whether you make $30,000 per year or $30 million per year. Sadly, that doesn’t look like the course Democrats in the Senate are taking, as they pursue a deeply misguided, faux-compromise through the Gang of Six. Hopefully sanity prevails and anything determined within this cabal fails to get the support it needs to be passed.

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