The first thought that comes to mind is, given the death toll of the wars of the 20th Century, the rise and fall of Communism and its heinous legacy which still enslaves billions, Naziism and many others, is why rolling all that back is such a horrid idea. Apparently another century like that is Greider's preferred outcome.
Many opponents and critics (myself included) have found the right's historic vision so improbable that we tend to guffaw and misjudge the political potency of what it has put together. We might ask ourselves: If these ideas are so self-evidently cockeyed and reactionary, why do they keep advancing?Has Greider already rolled back the century in his head? Could the massive failure of the Left across that span of years, destroying entire countries and leaving a trail of hundreds of millions of corpses, possibly, just maybe, have something to do with the advance of conservatism? Those ideas certainly have their problems but history has shown that one is far more likely to survive those problems than the problems of the big political ideas of the 20th century, the ideas that Greider is afraid are retreating.
Greider actually has a number of good insights in modern politics but he has a curious blind side to specific details. For instance, he writes
Free-market right-wingers fall silent when Bush and Congress intrude to bail out airlines, insurance companies, banks--whatever sector finds itself in desperate need.I don't remember that silence. One need only look up the reaction to the steel tarrifs. All of the free-market types I know and read have stated forcefully their disgust with any airline industry bailout. But the most bizarre claim was
The "school choice" movement seeks not smaller government but a vast expansion of taxpayer obligationsWhy exactly would a vast expansion of taxpayer obligations be something that Greider objects to? Moreover, as one of the commentors at the Brothers Judd points out those vouchers wouldn't cost any more than is currently being spent on education. There's no reason to expect a vast expansion of taxpayer burdens. Vouchers would certainly lead to a smaller government - no more Department of Education, no vast federally funded "education" establishment.
Greider is correct that the government should get out of the way and let "every man fend for himself". What we find is that people aren't stupid and they realize that
For most Americans, there is no redress without common action, collective efforts based on mutual trust and shared responsibilitiesSo when left to fend for themselves, Americans will form communities, organizations and fellowships that allow common action, collective efforts along with mutual trust and shared responsibility. Greider speaks as if the era before the New Deal was a barren, Hobbesian wasteland in America rather than (as Tocqueville saw) a stew of non-governmental organizations that allowed people to work together and support each other. What we see now, after a century of Greiders views ascendent, is books like Bowling Alone decrying the atomization of American social life. Greider should ask himself why this is if it is conservative policies that atomize society.