Readers Respond #1

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The first of several responses from TPM Readers to yesterday’s Backchannel

FWIW – I keep finding myself wondering whether, in terms of American politics, we are experiencing something of a rerun of Reagan’s reelection.  The current situation, of course, differs in all kinds of ways from the situation around New Years, 1984.  The geopolitical realities are very, very different.  American society has become much more polarized since then, and much more unequal.  Climate change did not loom in anything like the same way.  Gerrymandering had not become an art form, and neither major political party included millions of people who had explicitly soured on democracy and lived within an epistemic bubble.

But consider the similarities.  The economy has achieved significant momentum despite a long period of pessimism and significant troubles, not yet much registered in public opinion.  An incumbent President faces ongoing criticism for his age, but has successfully enacted significant legislation and redirected the focus of executive agencies.  The resulting changes reflect a thorough-going indictment of the previous 40-50 years of domestic policy. Then, there was a turn away from an activist state committed to programs that expand opportunities and redress social wrongs, and an embrace of market-based logic, globalization, fossil fuel extraction, and financialization.  Now, there is a rejection of the presumption that Wall Street always knows best, a reinvigoration of antitrust, and a new model of industrial policy, linked to concerns about geographic inequity, and the need to foster a profound energy transformation.  Then, Reagan Democrats decided to give Reagan a chance.  Now, never-Trumpers find themselves seeing Biden in new light. 

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