An argument that the refutation of John McCain is also a refutation of conservative economic policy.
John McCain is doing what no progressive political leader has been able to do in at least a generation, if not more: He's creating a New Deal mandate for the next Democratic president. Indeed, in tacking to the hard economic right and focusing the presidential debate on "socialism" and "wealth redistribution," he is creating a very clear decision for our country: Either we reject his neo-Reaganism and the regressive redistribution machine that I describe in my new newspaper column this week. Or, we vote to preserve the regressive redistribution machine that has created the most economically unequal America since the Great Depression.
Indeed, in this economic drama, McCain - not Barack Obama - is really in the starring role. That's because while Obama has offered up a progressive-though-moderate agenda slightly to the left of Clinton-ish neoliberalism, McCain has gone totally ideological. In doing that, he has polarized the argument and turned the election into a referendum on the economic Darwinism of the conservative movement - a Darwinism that, as my column shows, has built a machine that confiscates middle-class wealth and sends it up the income ladder.
The opportunity to make a dramatic shift in public perception regarding tax and economic ideologies has never been greater for progressives. As I argue here, we are seeing an abject failure of what conservatives have been much more successful at selling to the American public than progressives have: the "irrefutable" nobility of Reaganomics and free markets.
It's hard to be excited about the financial crisis, as it will hurt millions of Americans, and is probably far from hitting bottom, but it is also directly tied to McCain's crash-and-burn campaign, and an Obama win coupled with a Democrat house majority. Looking beyond just winning elections, I think it's time we have a long conversation - as a country - about coming this close to a second depression, and what we need to do avoid the ease with which we reached this point.