Blame the Whining Left for the Democrats' Reverse

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I don't think progressive Democrats are getting the credit they deserve for the hole Obama and the party are in. My new column for the FT tries to redress the balance.

[S]uppose that the Democratic base had not been sulking. Suppose it saw, for example, that persisting with a historic healthcare reform was politically challenging in the middle of an economic crash. Suppose it granted that radically overhauling a health system - some 20 per cent of the US economy - that many Americans rather like was a lot to take on. Suppose it was impressed that Mr Obama did it anyway, and was ready to go further.

Supposing those hopelessly implausible things, Mr Obama's midterm strategy could have been different. Sure of the loyalty of the base, he could have addressed himself to the anxious middle, defended his policies as centrist compromises (which they were), and told the country (as he did in 2008) that its concerns were his concerns. In this alternative universe, he would have had his base and at least a shot at bringing the centre back.

So credit please where it is due. The whining utopian left has a very full schedule of despising Republicans and the idiots and scoundrels (a little over half the country) who keep voting for them. Yet it can always find time to attack its own team, cry and complain, and demand to be patted on the head. The left's role in Tuesday's elections should not go unacknowledged.
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Clive Crook is a senior editor of The Atlantic and a columnist for Bloomberg View. He was the Washington columnist for the Financial Times, and before that worked at The Economist for more than 20 years, including 11 years as deputy editor. Crook writes about the intersection of politics and economics. More

Crook writes about the intersection of politics and economics.

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