Friday, September 16, 2016

Cynicism about politics as a millstone for the Democrats

David Dayen is one of the best analytical writers on politics, particularly the politics of economic policy.

He takes up the public option for health insurance in How Democrats Can Overcome Their Self-Defeating Cynicism New Republic 09/16/2016.

"The dominant theme of modern American politics," he writes, "driven by virtually everyone in the media, is cynicism. It’s no surprise that the most cynical candidate America has seen in recent memory [Trump] can press the advantage."

Cynicism about politics on the whole works to the advantage of the most cynical party and most cynical politicians. And since the Republican's "anti-government" stance appeals to skepticism and cynicism about government in general. It's been my own anecdotal experience that almost anyone who says they are suspicious or cynical about all politicians is almost always notably more skeptical of Democratic politics and politicians.

David explains how the corporate media are currently promoting political cynicism:

Issues have been surgically removed from the political bloodstream. A personality-obsessed television media doesn’t care about them and wouldn’t know how to explain them if they did. Data journalism, the hot new trend, is too preoccupied with polls and electoral simulations to bother with the true substance of elections. Hillary Clinton has on occasion tried to reset the focus back on issues—her campaign is a giant policy paper-generation machine—but the political neutron bomb known as Donald Trump has the entire country swinging its head to track who he’s insulted or who’s insulted him.

Meanwhile, partisan liberal media runs down Trump more than it discusses its own candidate. And the liberal punditocracy, newly enamored with political science, has become so certain that presidents cannot achieve their goals in a fractured system with multiple veto points that it has wrung hope out of politics, presuming that public opinion is static. Some have even argued that support for Bernie Sanders was entirely identity-based and had nothing to do with his ideas, to a degree that writes voter intention completely out of the story. [my emphasis]
He argues that the public option is a solid policy proposal that also makes good Democratic politics:

The momentum for the public option has been building for months. Hillary Clinton and then President Barack Obama came out in favor of it, after a succession of bad news about lack of competition in the insurance exchanges. The public option would help induce that competition, a benchmark that competitors in private insurance would need to mind. It would lower costs throughout the system, by using the clout of the government to bargain down the cost of provider treatment. In 2013, the Congressional Budget Office found that adding a public option to the exchanges would save the government $158 billion over ten years, while lowering premiums 7 to 8 percent.
He's right.

Let's hope the Democratic establishment gets on board with this one. The base has been on board with it for a long time.

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