PAST, PRESENT, AND FUTURE. Noam Scheiber has some smart remarks on my generation gap post from yesterday. Ed Kilgore also offers the reasonable rejoinder that one major failing of the "new school" tendency in progressive politics is some mistaken notions about the past. I think, though, that the crucial sub rosa divide isn't really about the past or the present, but about the future.

Petey commenting on my initial post offered the observation that high levels of polarization have helped the right. I think that's correct. He then leaps, however, to a prescriptive analysis that I think is wrong -- high levels of polarization have helped the right and therefore the left should try to reverse the polarization dynamic. This doesn't follow. The invention of air conditioning has led to a relative economic decline of the Northeast vis-�-vis the Sunbelt, but the Northeast shouldn�t try and rid itself of air conditioners in order to boost economic development. My contention would be that the polarization phenomenon is a largely irreversible feature of the current social and political landscape, and that progressives need to learn to deal with it better rather than trying to transcend it. This, in turn, means leaning to cope with the fact that the Democrats will, in all likelihood, lose more elections than they win, just as Germany's Social Democrats usually lose while still doing a great deal to shape public policy.

--Matthew Yglesias

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