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2005-11-11

Gene Sperling: Passion for Growth 

From the new book by Gene Sperling, who served as National Economic Advisor under Bill Clinton:
The Democratic Party should disband if it ever stops being the party that stands by the little guy, leads the fight against racial and economic disadvantage, sticks by working families when times are tough, and takes on those with privilege who don't play by the rules.

Yet when the public only hears Democrats taking on powerful interests or fighting for those who have fallen on hard times, they may believe that progressives' and the Democratic Party's passion is limited only to helping those in distress, and not to spurring economic growth and helping families create wealth. Democrats cannot just be the party for you when something bad happens. They also need to be the party of your optimistic aspirations. Friends are most important during hard times, but most of us want friends who support our dreams and hopes as well.

...

Continuing to push for a growing economic pie should be critical for those who believe in an America that always makes room for more people from diverse economic, cultural, and ethnic backgrounds who want to work hard to move up into the broad middle class. Simply put: it is easier to have a melting pot if it is a growing pot. When the economy stagnates, competition for a set number of jobs and resources becomes a war for scarce resources that can break down along racial and ethnic lines.

That is why the failure to "grow together" increases the risk that we will "grow apart" and become divided as a people competing for a shrinking pie of resources and opportunity.
This reaches me via Marginal Revolution, where Tyler Cowen among others makes this comment, which pains me considerably:
I just don't believe that any political party can be mass-captured by the intelligent and brought around to sanity. Parties exist, in part, to enforce feelings of interpersonal solidarity and to make people forget about critical thinking. We cannot avoid parties in a democracy, but there is already too much interest in parties as a vehicle for ideas.
As for Sperling's remarks, I cannot read them without thinking about the ongoing youth unrests in France, as well as the seemingly deeply entrenched xenophobia of a sizeable part of the electorate here in Vienna.


1 comments:

I won't go into the other parts of Gene Sperling's writing, as I've not read it. But the comment to it by Tyler Cowen seems to espouse the ideas that political parties are like football clubs to to be 'part of', instead of the representation of the collection of ideals that you vote for.
I think that this sort of football-club mentality is part of what is wrong with democracy as implemented in most countries.
It partly contributes to the low-voter turn-outs as people feel as they need to vote only if the 'root for one of the teams'. It is even worst in the U.S. as there's virtually only two 'teams' to pick from.
Note how when this football club mentality isn't prevalent (such as municipality elections) voters turn up in higher number to vote for the person they find most suitable for office...
 
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