Ph.D. Octopus

Politics, media, music, capitalism, scholarship, and ephemera since 2010

We need to get out of Reagan’s ideological shadow

with one comment

By Wiz

Quick Thought of the Day
If you don’t read Chris Bowers you should. He probably convinced me that, warts and all, the health care bill incorporated enough progressive ideas to be worthwhile.

I thought this post was especially interesting. He agrees with David Frum that although the Health Care bill had its intellectual roots in conservative circles, its passage amounted to a crushing defeat for the conservative movement.

What I think Bowers is getting at is that, with the Age of Reagan coming to a close, we’ve reached the point where the new progressive coalition can win political battles, but are still losing ideological and intellectual battles.

The health care bill was a great example of this. Politically speaking, it pitted the new coalition of online progressive activist types (Moveon, color of change, etc…), labor unions, and the other elements of the Obama coalition, against the full forces of the institutional conservative movement (Fox News, Tea Partiers, talk radio, etc…). And we won! Just like we won in the 2008 election.

The problem is that intellectually and ideologically we are still in the Age of Reagan. You saw this most clearly with the debate about the public option, which was constantly sold using a language of “competition,” “choice,” and “efficiency.” In other words the language of the market. And we still lost that, only to end up with a health care bill whose intellectual roots were in the Heritage Foundation and which enshrines a neoliberal corporatist logic into our health care system.

It seems to me that this is our new challenge. A strong demographic base for progressive politics now exists (African-Americans, Latinos, the young, liberal professionals, free-thinkers, tech industry types, union members, etc…), and is developing strong progressive institutions, yet is still operating within the ideological framework bequeathed to us by Reagan and the neoliberals.

This is what we need to change.

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Written by Peter Wirzbicki

April 3, 2010 at 18:00

Posted in Uncategorized

One Response

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  1. I don’t think you can attribute the rhetoric of the market’s inclusion in all aspects of life to Regan. His administration was probably as subject to the increasing influence of such rhetoric as they were controllers of it. Isn’t this one of David Harvey’s points? The language of neoliberalism has permeated our everyday lives; even in our resistant movements we may reinforce it’s ideology. The power of transnational corporations has far exceeded that of national governments (regardless of debates about the vitality of the nation state this is true). Neoliberalism is an international project, and thus the response can not be based in a national politics.

    Cornell Grad student

    April 4, 2010 at 00:20


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