No Policy, No Narrative

So last night Marian suggested that Obama is doomed. The economy is going to improve, Republicans will take all the credit for it, and they’ll win in 2012.

I don’t actually believe that — partly because I’m not sure the economy is going to improve substantially, and partly because if it does I think Obama will get credit for it. Presidents always do. Still, it did remind of how self-assured conservatives are compared to liberals. The basis for Obama being doomed, after all, is that Republicans have a great story all primed and ready in the American imagination, which means that when (if) the economy improves they’ll easily be able to persuade people that they were responsible. Even Marian, who doesn’t pay a ton of attention to politics, knows their story.

So what does the American economy need, according to conservatives? That’s easy. Lower taxes. Smaller deficits. Reduced spending. Less uncertainty. It may be nonsense, but it’s not an act. They are 100% convinced that this is bedrock truth, and they tell their story with absolute conviction.

And what’s the liberal story about what the economy needs? Don’t all raise your hands at once. More stimulus? That’s a good answer, but every Democrat in an actual position of power is either afraid to say so or doesn’t believe it. Hell, most of them weren’t even willing to take credit for the positive effects of the 2009 stimulus. A payroll tax holiday? Also not a bad answer, but no one is pushing it. Policies to weaken the dollar? That’ll be a cold day in hell. Massive infrastructure investment? A direct government jobs program? Work subsidies? Maybe, kind of, and we’re not sure.

In other words, liberals don’t have a story at all. A few of them do — call them the Krugmanites for short — but it’s a small and uninfluential band. In the halls of power and the corridors of the media, liberals have nothing but a collective clamor of pet ideas and peevish finger pointing. So even if the economy does improve, there won’t be any way for them to persuade the public that their policies were responsible. For starters, they themselves probably won’t really believe it.

Anyway, nothing new here. Just felt like getting it off my chest. Feel free to fire away in comments.

Fact:

Mother Jones was founded as a nonprofit in 1976 because we knew corporations and the wealthy wouldn’t fund the type of hard-hitting journalism we set out to do.

Today, reader support makes up about two-thirds of our budget, allows us to dig deep on stories that matter, and lets us keep our reporting free for everyone. If you value what you get from Mother Jones, please join us with a tax-deductible donation so we can keep on doing the type of journalism that 2018 demands.

Donate Now