December 09, 2005
Hacker and Pierson
For months now I have had Jacob Hacker and Paul Pierson's Off Center by my bedside, and every night I think I should say something intelligent about it. But so far no luck. Here's what they say about their book:
TPMCafe || OFF CENTER...: This is a remarkable -- and deeply troubling -- moment to discuss American politics. In this first post we would like to introduce the book and flag a few issues that we hope to toss around with the commentators and the TPM community during the coming week. We wrote Off Center to demonstrate and explain three broad developments in American politics over the past quarter-century. The first is that the Republican Party -- especially its leaders, activists, and most important affiliated groups -- have moved WAY to the right. The second is that there is no evidence of a similar change in the basic opinions of American citizens on the issues they identify as most important. The third development is the most puzzling. Despite the large and growing gap between the views of the GOP and the views of the electorate, Republicans have had remarkable (though hardly unlimited) success, both in advancing a quite radical agenda and in winning elections....
[W]e need to understand not only the various forces that have pulled the GOP to the right (rising inequality, the transformed political role of the South, the growing clout and radicalism of the GOP "base", the rise of safe seats and attendant growth in importance of extremist-dominated primaries), but also the extensive protections that have insulated this radicalized GOP from political backlash. The GOP has moved off-center... because it can get away with it... in large part because it has constructed the most coordinated, unified party in modern American history. This unity and coordination allows Republican leaders to provide various forms of "backlash insurance", undercutting the checks and balances traditionally offered by the media, the opposition, and more moderate members of the majority party...
Posted by DeLong at December 9, 2005 10:38 AM