I have always respected Jonathan Chait. That may come as a surprise, but he possesses a quality that is rare among liberal pundits. Most will lie to you about the politics of their hearts. They will tell you that they’re all for the left’s ambitions, or at least for a United States more like the benevolent states of Europe. They will assure you that when the time is right, they’ll throw their weight behind the moral cause of socialism; it’s just that it isn’t practical right now. It’s just that you’ve got to be reasonable, compromise, capitulate to the demands of the Democratic Party without protest, or else we’ll never get anywhere. Chait does not do this. He believes that the mild welfare state championed by Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton is not merely an acceptable form of government, but very nearly an ideal one. When he scolds the left for their hostility toward business, or lectures college students over their inadequate reverence for liberal free speech norms, or endorses the Iraq War and later cops only to an inadequate consideration of its logistical prospects, Chait is telling you precisely what he thinks. I’ve often, almost always, taken issue with his conclusions. But I have never gotten the sense that Chait is operating in bad faith. He’s a liberal capitalist, a technocrat, what any sane assessment of the political spectrum would rate a conservative centrist, and he does not pretend otherwise.
Well, perhaps not the first sentence, but otherwise I agree with the basic point. One thing about the primary, during which too often Bernie versus Hillary obscured Bernieism versus Hillaryism (that is, the basic ideological positioning of the two as opposed to the specifics of the people who were representing them), is that a lot of people did reveal themselves to be, at heart, Chait Democrats (I think this was true much more of prominent Hillary supporters/surrogates, than was true of of the campaign or Hillary herself). That's fine. People can be Chait Democrats. And people can disagree with Chait Democrats. But the point is that there are disagreements which are, as the above says, papered over with claims of solidarity and practicality and electability. Team D (or Team Liberal or Team Left of Center or whatever) actually don't agree about policy goals. It isn't simply that one segment thinks they are going as Lefty as they can get away with. They're going about as Lefty as they want to go. More lefty Democrats have a pretty good case that their crazy ideas aren't just crazy, but perhaps popular and necessary,too. The campaign highlighted that and also sharpened divisions. That's good and bad, I guess. Fight away.