Five Best Tuesday Columns
Janan Ganesh on the Scottish referendum, Eugene Robinson on Hillary's vision, Sen. Tim Kaine on war powers, Richard Florida on Tesla's new deal, and Zephyr Teachout and Tim Wu on Democratic primaries.
Janan Ganesh in The Financial Times on why the United Kingdom will suffer regardless of the outcome of the Scottish referendum. Ganesh writes that the U.K.'s pandering to keep Scotland in the union will ultimately weaken it. "The problem is about to get worse. Not only has the union been tugged loose by this referendum, it will keep loosening the day after. All the main parties in Westminster have promised to divest more powers to Edinburgh, starting almost immediately... Irreversible promises to do with the governing arrangements of the UK are being thrown around as campaign bait by desperate men in the last ditch." Regardless of the outcome of the September 18 vote, Ganesh suggests that Scotland will emerge more independent than it was before. "A question nags: how unionist is unionism really? When even supporters of the UK envisage gradual divergence between Edinburgh and Westminster – ever-looser union, to invert the founding text of the EU – then Mr Salmond’s point is largely made for him. Unionism used to suffer from absolutism; many of its adherents resisted the creation of a Scottish parliament long after it had become irresistible. Now it suffers from the opposite problem. It craves the legal fact of the union without any of the content."
Sen. Tim Kaine in The New York Times on why President Obama must seek the authorization of Congress before going to war. The Virginia Senator urges Obama to ask for Congressional approval before pursuing his new offensive against ISIS. "Our Constitution reserves to Congress the power to declare war and designates our president as the commander in chief, but our recent history has been characterized by executive overreach and legislative abdication in the initiation of military action. The current crisis gives us an opportunity to restore the proper balance between the branches. America’s history since 2001 should compel us to fix the way we make the significant decision to go to war." Kaine suggests that the President has a chance to end what has become a dangerous post 9/11 precedent. "We should not be stretching the open-ended 9/11 authorization even further to cover action against ISIS, an organization that didn’t even exist until years after."
Richard Florida in The Los Angeles Times on why states shouldn't give companies everything they want in return for developing there. Specifically, Florida condemns Nevada's decision to give Tesla over a billion dollars in tax incentives to build in the state. "They say the house always wins, but the state of Nevada is letting Tesla walk away with the store... The reality is that incentives play little if any role in companies' location decisions, which are based on more fundamental factors like labor costs, the quality of the workforce, proximity to markets and access to suppliers. But companies have learned to game the process. Florida suggests that local taxpayers end up footing most of the bill and ultimately see little return for their money. "Virtually all of the published research on the subject shows that most economic development incentives are a senseless waste of taxpayer money... Poorer, less advantaged communities often take the biggest hit, being more likely to gamble public funds on the hope of new factory jobs."
Eugene Robinson in The Washington Post on why Hillary Clinton needs to develop a campaign message before she decides to run. While Hillary's trip to Iowa signaled her intentions to run for President, Robinson suggests that she doesn't have a strong enough message to run on. "The election of the first woman as president would be a great milestone, but a glance at the headlines — economic and social dislocation at home, terrorism and war abroad — suggests that voters will not likely be in the mood for symbolic gestures. To win the nomination, let alone the general election, Clinton will have to lay out her vision of the way forward." Robinson think it is likely that a candidate like Elizabeth Warren will run to Clinton's left, leaving the former Secretary of State in an ill-defined and uncertain middle. "Centrist pragmatism as a campaign theme? In U.S. politics today, the middle is a dangerous place to be."
Zephyr Teachout and Tim Wu in Politico on what they learned by running for Governor and Lieutenant Governor of New York. The recently defeated primary ticket writes that they ran because Governor Andrew Cuomo had fallen prey to cronyism and politics. "In taking about half of New York counties and 34 and 40 percent of the vote for governor and lieutenant governor, respectively, we scored what the New York Times called 'an embarrassing rebuke' of the governor... In short, we scored a real political blow for true traditional Democratic power." The pair advocate for a grassroots liberal awakening, urging more Democrats must run against their party establishment in primaries. "On key issues, like protection of the environment, the fight against inequality and standing up against big business for consumers and small business, it is clear that the Democratic Party is on the right side of history. But there are others—too many—who have drifted and are running as little more than watered-down Republicans. Over the next few years, across this country, we anticipate a battle for the heart and soul of the Democratic Party. So do what we did—and let the primaries begin!"