Archive for March, 2010


Mitt Romney and the Evolving American Right

John Chait at The New Republic has an interesting post about Mitt Romney and his prospects in 2012.

In many ways Romney is the front-runner right now because it seems rather unclear as to who-else will be runnng. Palin and Huckabee are likely in the mix, but both are hard to take to seriously as contenders for the nomination. This is not to say that they will not be a factor in the 2012 race. Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota is likely in the running, but him and Romney are very similar.

This part of Chait’s post stands out to me:

Romney is a useful marker in the frightening right-wing turn of his party. The GOP has been moving rightward for the last thirty years, but that shift has dramatically accelerated just since the fall of 2008. After Obama won the presidency, Republican officeholders and conservative pundits decided almost-unanimously was that the party’s failure had stemmed from being too moderate.

The sudden ideological isolation of Romney is a case in point. During the 2008 GOP primary battle, he took a lot of heat for his former socially liberal positions. But his health care plan in Massachusetts attracted very little controversy. It was a classic moderate Republican plan, and one could very easily imagine Romney implementing something like it — which is to say, something resembling the Obama plan — had he won the presidency. Now it’s seen as socialism, if not the end of American freedom. Likewise, the Bush administration and most Republicans favored TARP, but it, too, is now widely seen among Republicans as some dystopian attack on free enterprise ripped straight out of an Ayn Rand novel.

So what will keep Romney from getting the nomination? He is a pragmatic conservative who has shown that he can govern. This is not likely to fly during a time (at least within the GOP) of extreme anti-government sentiment. While I am no fan of the GOP, I hope that the likes of Romney can prevail over the Perrys and Palins. Not for the GOPs sake, but for the country.

Markets, Democracy, and the Human Good

Markets are not bad.

What? Is this not the same Chris Henrichsen who has proudly proclaimed to be a socialist? That is indeed me (and you must not have read those blog posts).

Markets play an important role in a healthy political economy. They promote the existence of affordable quality products and services. They disperse economic decision-making power.

However, markets cannot do certain things. The are not indicators of virtue or moral value. The are not always the best at determining good taste in art.

The primary strength of markets is determining prices. Yet, markets are not a good in and of themselves. Humanity is the only good in and of itself. To the extent that markets advance the human good, they should be sustained and promoted. However, when markets promote extreme inequality, poverty, and cruelty, there is no defense for these aspects. Note that this does not require us to abolish markets.

This is why the social contract is so important. A democratic system of government is needed to mediate the negative by-products of the market. This is also why it is important to have a just basic structure of society.

Democracy is the best means of securing the human good. Markets play a role. So do governments. But both markets and governments become social ills, as opposed to social goods, outside of a democratic setting.

Wingnuts in Texas

So, I just recently discovered John Avlon, who is the national commentator who best articulates my position on politics (aside from me, but I’m not national). On Monday, Avlon wrote a short piece describing the Texan Republican Primary candidates for Governor in which he argued that Conservative extremists have absolutely derailed the election. As a result, a man who briefly flirted publicly with the idea of secession is still the Republican candidate for Governor of Texas.

Of course there is a wealth of irony in the party of Lincoln putting forward someone who has brown-nosed secessionists. However, the purpose of the piece is not merely to mock the crazy in Texas. What is wrong with America (for which Texas is standing in) when someone like Perry is elected? Certainly he had a Tea Party candidate in the mix, but she seems relatively moderate in comparison. And, most importantly, why can’t a practical centrist who isn’t spouting crazy get elected over him?

Can anybody explain the election in Texas to me? Or should I just give up hope for America?