“The Best Lack All Conviction…”

President Obama’s question-and-answer session, following his speech at the University of Maryland, sets out a fairly effective counter-narrative to the Republican approach to this most recent budget-hostage situation. If you’ve missed it, here are some points worth hearing, and repeating, because Lord knows, the “liberal media” won’t cover it themselves.

First, extremism is a personal issue — the result of voters putting themselves in an echo chamber — but it’s also an election law issue. When we deliberately draw “safe” districts, we encourage members to run as far left, or as far right as possible, but then, when they get to Washington, they have nothing to say to each other. Democracy should foster the middle.

Second, we must reject the notion a dichotomy between public spending, and private spending. One affects the other. Obama’s example bears retelling: according to the CEO of Southwest Airlines, upgrading America’s air traffic control system would save all major airlines 15% off the bottom line, savings which would (we hope) see reinvestment in new hiring. I realize we now view infrastructure as “socialism,” but maybe that’s off-base.



  1. Only certain far-right Republicans view infrastructure as “socialism”; most Republicans view it as a governmental function – they just don’t think now is the time to pay for it with social wellfare programs growing as large as they are.

  2. Philip is right. There’s also, of course, the age-old “pork” and “fad” issues of whether or not any given infrastructure program is a useful infrastructure program.

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