For some time now, I have found Jonathan Chait, who writes for New York magazine, one of our most insightful pundits. I adhere to that view, though I cannot agree with the thrust of two recent columns: How the Loyal Opposition Will Work in Trump’s America and Charles Schumer and Nancy Pelosi Have a Plan to Make President Trump Popular.
The question Chait addresses is whether Democrats ought to involve themselves with, and support, Trump’s plans for massive new spending on infrastructure. (That’s assuming the project as ultimately adopted is appropriate public policy—not fundamentally marred by poorly conceived efforts to involve private capital.)
Chait trenchantly expatiates on the hypocrisy of those who oppose public spend in Democratic administrations only to fall in love with inflationary deficit spending when Republicans take office. He enlarges on how Republican opposition to everything Obama proposed helped to keep their own constituents in poverty, and primed to vote for “change” in 2016. He eloquently argues that allowing a feeling of bipartisanship to grow could tend toward legitimizing that which ought to be illegitimate.
I believe these are all fair arguments, with much to commend them.
But, in the end, aren’t we all better if progressives just do the right thing?
If (and it may be a big if) Trump can live with an infrastructure proposal similar to that offered by Obama—and rejected by McConnell and his cynical posse—wouldn’t a mirror image cynicism on our part simply lead ever wider segments of the public to shout, “A plague on both your houses”?
Wouldn’t mirror image cynicism just reinforce whatever authoritarian tendencies Trump may exhibit?