Monday, January 17, 2005

WSJ op-ed page panicking

The WSJ's op-ed page's Web editor James Taranto--who makes a living being as partisan, condescending and snarky toward progressives as possible--has his panties in a wad over the Democrats ability to rally against the Bush regime's push to abolish Social Security. Taranto especially singles out for backhanded compliments the fantastic work Josh Micah Marshall has done defending Social Security over at his blog.

Josh used to blog on all sorts of political and military topics. But over the last two months he has devoted himself single-mindedly, and with great substantive impact, on defending Social Security as we know it. In addition to exposing the misrepresentations and lies of the Bush administration regarding the future financing of the program, Josh has adopted a very straight-forward political method: get every single member of Congress, and especially centrists on both sides of the aisle, to commit themselves publicly to whether state pensions are something they believe in.

Do you believe in spending two trillion dollars to phase out state pension guarantees in favor of savings accounts that people can, for better and worse, control for themselves? It's really a simple question. Josh rightly views the Social Security debate as, above all, an ideological battle--a battle about what one thinks the role of government is in mitigating social risks. He understands that making every Democrat commit ideologically is a prerequisite for victory.

Social Security is also a great "wedge issue" for Democrats: the Republicans' plans to privatize Social Security exposes just how ideologically out of touch the Republican Party is with mainstream America. (The Plen-T-plainters may really hate liberal elites, but they also want to collect Social Security.) As I've argued before, for the Democrats ever to return from the political wilderness, they must stop enjoying ambiguity and complexity and instead embrace simple ideological fundamentals. Josh is taking them in the right direction.

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