I really liked this editorial at Bloomberg but I was startled and chagrined at the editors failure to understand modern political reality. The gist of the editorial is that a working group composed of representatives from the American Enterprise Institute and the Brookings Institution found broad agreement on strategies for combating poverty. For example:
Crucially, the group began by accepting three general truths that often derail debate before it begins: Able-bodied adults should work, two committed parents are better than one, and schools must do more to prepare students for careers. In each of those areas, the group managed to reach consensus on policy.
Those are already controversial. I’ll leave it to the interested student (as my math textbooks use to say) to point out how.
I could practically write an interlinear commentary on the editorial, viz.
On education, the group’s approach was no less catholic: It called for increasing and improving pre-K and early learning opportunities, as liberals want
I supported that for decades. Unfortunately, the results have proven disappointing. Improved outcomes from improved early learning opportunities have been short-lived. Look it up for yourself. What we really need is a lot more evidence-based education. Try to get unbiased empirical evidence on education. Go ahead. I dare you.
It doesn’t actually surprise me that a bunch of boffins could reach broad agreement. That’s isn’t our problem and when I read this passage of the editorial:
Taken in isolation, each of these policies is likely to arouse opposition from one party or the other. Bundled together, they form a package that both sides can support. This new report, excellent in its own right, makes an even larger point. The most effective way to make policy is not from the left or the right, but from the radical center.
I was taken aback. What world are they living in? The reason the two sides can’t reach agreement isn’t because they don’t agree. It’s because the objectives of modern politics are to help your allies and injure your opponents while encouraging wealthy donors to give you more of their money. Agreeing with your political opposition doesn’t get you any of that.
The history of American politics over the last 40 years is that the two political parties, both of which were “catch-all” parties, representing broad swathes of the political spectrum and in which centrists held considerable sway, have increasingly evolved into programmatic parties dominated by their most radical members. Every year there are fewer centrists in the Congress and they’re almost completely absent from the Congressional leadership.
Explain to me again how we’re going to make policy from the radical center.