radical, dude

Uncle comments on the post-election reactions:

I hope some factions of the wacky left get the sand out of their collective vagina so that we can get back to discussing the issues a bit more politely and seriously. After all, 30% of the homo haters voted for Kerry.

When will the Democrats get serious and relegate these fruit loops to the Green Party or a room with tin foil hats and rubber walls? There is also rampant this notion that the Bush administration is going to declare martial law, overturn Roe v. Wade, give Jerry Falwell a cabinet position, invade France, and generally bring about the apocalypse all at the urging of evangelical Christians.

From NYT’s Krugman:

President Bush isn’t a conservative. He’s a radical - the leader of a coalition that deeply dislikes America as it is. Part of that coalition wants to tear down the legacy of Franklin Roosevelt, eviscerating Social Security and, eventually, Medicare. Another part wants to break down the barriers between church and state. And thanks to a heavy turnout by evangelical Christians, Mr. Bush has four more years to advance that radical agenda.

If you think Bush is a right wing, extremist radical then you have no idea what a radical really is. Or you’re further to the left than you think and you really think moderates think like you.

The word radical gets thrown around a lot, especially when people are seeking to discredit and marginalize their opposition by claiming they are outside the norm, rather than on the merit of their actual ideas. (And, ironically, I think uncle is guilty of it, here, with the “wacky left” comments.)

But, in this case, “radical” is a good description of the changes that many conservatives have wanted to make to the social programs in our country. The reason “radical” is an appropriate word is because the targetting of social security, medicare, and medicaid is something that most Americans (when the debate is framed with any clarity) don’t want.

Bush himself has never publicly been as explicit as other conservatives in declaring his intention to eliminate any social programs, instead muddling the debate by not being honest about social security’s fiscal situation (Galbraith had a great piece covering these myths) or by framing it as an issue of simple deregulation (i.e. “privatizing”), when it’s much more complicated than that because of the inherent debt involved in the social security system.

Further, the fiscal situation that 4 years of the Bush adminstration have left us in leave little room for squirming – we’re running unsustainable deficits and something’s got to budge: spending cuts or tax increases. This is more than enough cause for worry among those of us who are aware of the Bush administration’s attitude towards these social programs.

So, I think Krugman is perfectly right in addressing this agenda as a radical one – it’s a drastic change to the social order of our country that most people aren’t honestly aware of, and Krugman is trying to draw attention to it.