on standing up and fighting back

In case you didn’t catch Paul Krugman’s op-ed in today’s New York Times, here’s an extended clip. It’s worth reading.

…For one thing, there’s no more room for illusions. In 2001 it was possible for some Democrats to convince themselves that President Bush’s tax cuts were consistent with an agenda that was only moderately conservative. In 2002 it was possible for some Democrats to convince themselves that the push for war with Iraq was really about eliminating weapons of mass destruction.

But in 2005 it takes an act of willful blindness not to see that the Bush plan for Social Security is intended, in essence, to dismantle the most important achievement of the New Deal. The Republicans themselves say so: the push for privatization is following the playbook laid out in a 1983 Cato Journal article titled “A ‘Leninist’ Strategy,” and in a White House memo declaring that “for the first time in six decades, the Social Security battle is one we can win – and in doing so, we can help transform the political and philosophical landscape of the country.”

By refusing to be bullied into false bipartisanship on Social Security, Democrats have already scored a significant tactical victory. Just two months ago, TV pundits were ridiculing Harry Reid, the Senate minority leader, for denying that Social Security faces a crisis, and for rejecting outright the idea of diverting payroll taxes into private accounts. But now the Bush administration itself has dropped the crisis language, and admitted that private accounts would do nothing to improve the system’s finances…

In fact, by taking on Social Security, Mr. Bush gave the Democrats a chance to remember what they stand for, and why. Here’s my favorite version, from another fighting moderate, Eliot Spitzer: “As President Bush embraces the ownership society and tries to claim that he is the one that is making it possible for the middle class to succeed and save and invest – well, I say to myself, no, that’s not right; it is the Democratic Party historically that created the middle class.”

For a while, Mr. Dean will be the public face of the Democrats, and the Republicans will try to portray him as the leftist he isn’t. But Deanism isn’t about turning to the left: it’s about making a stand.

And, if you haven’t given money to Dean’s new DNC yet, there’s still time.

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