I want to take a break from the hollering about the presidential race to recommend an editorial from the Oct. 13 issue of the Economist, “True Progressivism.” Why the applause for this piece of writing? Coming from a traditionally right-of-center publication, this editorial accepts as its premise that the rising inequality in our economy is problematic at many levels, and that the concentration of economic power in our plutocracy has created a form of crony capitalism that is antithetical to economic growth and vitality. The prime example cited by the Economist: too-big-to-fail banks that feast on public subsidies. The answer the editorial proposes? A vigorous form of Rooseveltian Progressivism that attacks monopolies to restore real competition.
This editorial reflects a remarkable convergence of thinking—and perhaps the beginning of a new alliance among those who have often disagreed. Such an alliance will require the more conservative political forces to acknowledge the destructive impact of gross inequality and the reality that markets have often failed to be open, thus hindering mobility and genuine competition.
Likewise, the more liberal forces would have to agree that the best intervention to remedy the cronyism is not the government performing activities better left to the private sector, but the government’s creative use of anti-monopoly laws to restore competition and true market rigor.
Such a form of progressivism would provide a genuine alternative to the inchoate anger of both the Tea Party and the Occupy Wall Street movements. It would also give us an ideology that was actually viable. This is a longer and deeper conversation that must be pursued, but these simple points of agreement could offer a way forward after the Nov. 6 elections.