EVERYTHING OLD IS NEW AGAIN. I'm rather taken with a point Matt made earlier today in the context of "progressive realism." He wrote that "I do, however, see the case for framing it as a new paradigm: Roughly, there's a sense that 9-11 made drama and novelty necessary parts of one's approach to national security, that Bush's efforts at drama and novelty have failed, and that now we need a new brand of drama and novelty." That's about right. It's also another reason why I don't actually mind all the "Big Ideas" talk humming through Democratic circles. All the new journals and articles and speeches won't, I fear, actually come up with anything new, but after finding innovation a closed route they'll begin repackaging older ideas as fashionable, fresh responses to changing conditions.
That's a real service, though, because politically, the perception of newness actually matters quite a bit. Bill Clinton understood that, as did Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush. And while none of these figures -- save, at certain moments, Clinton -- actually brought in any paradigm-changing concepts, all of them benefited from press coverage that saw their new ideas, and not their opponent's staid defense of the status quo, as the hot story of the campaign. So progressive realism? Bring it on. Democracy: A Journal of Ideas? Hit me with it. WITT economics? I'm ready, baby. It may not be new, but transforming today's musty concepts into tomorrow's hip retro fad should be rather central to the Democratic strategy. It's time the Party's thinkers paid less attention to Truman's legacy and more to Converse's marketing strategy.
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