Can Democrats own prosperity?

Take a look at this column by National Journal's Jonathan Rauch, for me one of the two or three most consistently interesting writers on American public policy:

The Democrats' postwar narrative was Keynesianism: By managing demand, the government would balance the economy instead of the budget. Reagan's narrative was supply-side: He would reignite stagnating productivity by reducing tax rates, deregulating, and shrinking a bloated public sector. Bill Clinton preached fiscal responsibility and globalization, a program that succeeded economically but lacked staying power politically, partly because Al Gore seemed to repudiate it.



Bush adopted the supply-side story, but in a primitive form in which tax cuts, deregulation, and smaller government became tax cuts, tax cuts, and tax cuts. The public has responded with something between indifference and contempt, leaving Republicans without a leg to stand on.



As for the Democrats, they have an audience. For the first time since the Great Society era, the public is receptive to a Democratic prosperity narrative, even eager for one. What the party does not have, yet, is the narrative.



Various bits and pieces are in circulation. Fix health care. Improve income security. Restrict trade. Raise taxes on the rich. Democrats hope to speak to middle-class America's feelings of economic vulnerability, which is probably the right tree to bark up. But while some Democrats strike notes of class resentment, others seem to blame foreigners. No candidate has found a package and a tone that tell a story not primarily about populism or nationalism but about prosperity: raising the tide to lift all boats.

Read the whole column here (the link expires in a week).

Presented by

How a Psychedelic Masterpiece Is Made

A short documentary about Bruce Riley, an artist who paints abstract wonders with poured resin

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register with Disqus.

Please note that The Atlantic's account system is separate from our commenting system. To log in or register with The Atlantic, use the Sign In button at the top of every page.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

How a Psychedelic Masterpiece Is Made

A short documentary about Bruce Riley, an artist who paints abstract wonders with poured resin

Videos

Why Is Google Making Skin?

Hidden away on Google’s campus, doctors are changing the way people think about health.

Video

How to Build a Tornado

A Canadian inventor believes his tornado machine could solve the world's energy crisis.

Video

A New York City Minute, Frozen in Time

This short film takes you on a whirling tour of the Big Apple

Video

What Happened to the Milky Way?

Light pollution has taken away our ability to see the stars. Can we save the night sky?

More in Business

Just In