This week's New York Times Sunday Review wasn't as loaded with bias as last week's edition, but did feature a political cri de couer by Times favorite Drew Westen, Emory University professor and left-winger, "America's Leftward Tilt?"
Westen really went out on a limb:
The presidential election is now a close contest, but barring an Electoral College tie, someone is going to win, someone is going to lose, and both sides will have to make sense of it all.
So "someone is going to win, someone is going to lose," unless they tie? After that hard-won insight, Westen packed in his typical strident leftism.
If Mitt Romney loses, conservatives will no doubt conclude that he just wasn’t conservative enough, that they should have picked someone more appealing to their base. If President Obama loses or squeaks out a victory just four years after President George W. Bush destroyed the economy (which should have discredited conservative economics once and for all), many Democrats are likely to conclude that he tried to move too left too fast when he pushed for a stimulus and health care reform for which Americans were simply not ready, rather than that he simply sold both programs poorly (something he now acknowledges).
Similarly, whichever candidate wins, the first order of business will be deciding which programs to cut -- unless a deal to prevent us from going over the fiscal cliff is reached during the lame-duck session of Congress after the election. Most voters intuitively understand that jobs and deficits are linked -- too much of an emphasis on deficits leads to too few jobs -- because working people with money in their wallets drive demand, whereas wealthier people with money in their wallets drive Jaguars (and send the rest of their income to their hedge fund managers). Even in the heart of red America, people understand that high unemployment and income disparities of the magnitude we are now witnessing are bad for economic growth.
This should have come as no surprise. A majority of Americans still holds Bush accountable for the Great Recession, and with good reason. We are still breathing the fumes of his toxic brew of deregulation, massive transfers of wealth to the rich and a doubling of the national debt. His policies, and those of a Republican Congress that had its way with the economy for six years, were in fact the culmination of a right-wing ideological revolution led by Ronald Reagan, which changed the way Americans view their government. Mr. Reagan’s shadow continues to loom large, because Democrats have yet to make the case for a compelling alternative and have too often accepted the premises of the right.
Then came the conservative movement that ushered in Reagan, whose ideology has dominated our political discourse ever since, even after its proven failure. If Nixon and Bill Clinton were the last gasps of Roosevelt’s breath, then Mr. Bush, Mr. Obama and perhaps Mr. Romney may well be the last gasps of Reagan’s. If the centrifugal pull of the 2012 election is likely to be to the right, is there any potential counterweight?
Westen ended by sounding the death knell for Reaganomics.
In other words, if the candidate who wins takes a left turn like the one that won him the presidency, the Reagan era would finally be over. We can only hope.