Monday, December 21, 2009

Right wing Leninism

Lenin argued that the worse things are under the Kerensky government the better things are for the Bolsheviks. Some Republicans seem to be adopting the same attitude toward the Health care bill.

This is wrong, and not just because it is, well, wrong. Obviously you don't want bad things to happen for your country even if they benefit you politically. Of course, if you think the other side is passing a truly bad bill you would like that fact to become apparent as soon as possible to be able to make the political argument for ending the policy. But that is just another way of saying if something bad is going to happen it is better that it happen sooner rather than later.

The problem with the right wing Leninism argument is that it gets the politics wrong. Just getting more Republicans elected will not guarantee getting more conservative policies. The Bush years were nothing if not proof of that. If we want to win the future rather than simply win the spoils we have to win the intellectual battle.

The policy battle we are having is a contest between provision by the state and provision by the market. The problems that we have in the health care system today stem primarily from the involvement of the state and the Democrats are proposing to cure the cancer by enlarging the tumor. The current bill has become unpopular because it threatens existing programs and arrangements, but those existing programs and arrangements are the problem. The Democrats are losing because they are proposing to upset those arrangements and that is why they are losing, because they have threatened existing stakeholders. If Republicans want to ever do something about the problem they have to win not on hte basis of the protecting the existing system but on the basis of attackign the cancer.

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