Paul Waldman

Paul Waldman is the Prospect's daily blogger and senior writer. He also blogs for the Plum Line at the Washington Post, and is the author of Being Right is Not Enough: What Progressives Must Learn From Conservative Success.

Recent Articles

The Global Digital Divide.

Lots of people, myself included, have lamented the fact that for all America's dominance of the Internet, there are other countries, like South Korea, where they have better broadband service than we do. But when you look at the entire globe, it's obvious that the world is divided into Internet haves, and Internet have-nots. Play around with this interactive data visualization from Google: The country with the highest proportion of Internet users? Greenland, at an admirable 91.6 per 100 (compared to 72.4 in the U.S.). I'll refrain from making a crack about the need for Internet access when you live in a bleak, windswept tundra. The lowest rate of access is that of Burma, which in 2007 (the last year of available data) had just one Internet user for every 1,000 citizens. There are also multiple countries in sub-Saharan Africa -- Mali, Niger, the Congo -- where access is at or below one per 100. -- Paul Waldman

An Education Program We Can All Support.

Progressives surely understand by now that Barack Obama has no intention of making the rhetorical case for progressivism a theme of his presidency. This is a continuing disappointment; if he spent as much time attacking conservatism as, say, Ronald Reagan did attacking liberalism, we might actually be able to change our national conversation on the role of government. And unfortunately, what ought to be the most powerful tool in that effort -- strong policy -- may have only limited effect. Republicans today decry the potential horror of government health insurance while simultaneously posing as valiant defenders of Medicare; tomorrow they will likely celebrate the health insurance exchanges the current reform establishes, while they mount a rearguard action against a public option. Given that Democrats have control of government for the moment, perhaps it would be a good time to come up with some creative ideas to shift the public's perceptions about government -- not in a...

Put Your Filibuster Where Your Mouth Is.

Now that it's looking like there's not much they can do to stop health-care reform (if it does go down, it will be because of recalcitrant centrist Democrats), Republicans have taken to warning their opponents that if HCR passes, it will mean electoral doom for Democrats. So here's a question some intrepid interviewer might ask as a follow-up when they repeat this: OK, Mr. Republican Senator, if you think that Democrats will suffer a stunning defeat if they pass health-care reform, why not end your filibuster? Then, instead of the House passing the Senate's version of HCR, the Senate could pass the House's version, and it would be done. You could await your stunning victories in 2010 and 2012, and then repeal the bill before most of the key provisions take effect in 2014 (or actually 2013, under the House's bill). Then you'd have your smashing political victory, and the dreaded socialist takeover would never have occurred. If you really believe what you're saying, wouldn't that be the...

The Future of Health-Care Rhetoric.

What will Republicans say if health-care reform passes? This is a question I've begun to ponder, since the things conservatives have been saying up to this point -- "death panels," reform is a "government takeover of one-sixth of the economy" -- have been totally unmoored from reality. But if reform actually passes, those arguments won't have much of an effect. It's easy to make people afraid about an uncertain future, but it's much harder to convince them that the present they are experiencing is something other than what it is. Once people find themselves going to the same doctors and dealing with the same insurance companies, it will be hard to tell them their medical decisions are now being made by jackbooted government bureaucrats. So how are Republicans going to shift from, in the words of Dick Morris , " Obama 's plan is going to kill you" (yes, that's an actual quote) to "Obama's plan has turned your life into a living hell"? I'm not really sure, but my guess is that...

It's Not About the Ideology.

Just in the past few years, we've seen the political pendulum swing wildly back and forth between the left and the right, from the post-9/11 conservative heyday, to the progressive revival in 2006-2008, and now, supposedly, to a new dawn for the GOP. Andrew Sullivan laments how "ideology has infiltrated everything , it has saturated public and private, it has invaded even something sacred like religious faith, in which the mysteries of existence have been distilled in writing or even understanding the churches into a battle between 'liberals' and 'conservatives.'" He considers this antithetical to true conservatism, which "is a resistance to ideology and the world of ideas ideology represents, whether that ideology is a function of the left or the right." Fair enough, but I think what Sullivan is really objecting to is partisanship masquerading as ideology. Think about it this way: If you wanted to seriously examine the ideology of, say, Sarah Palin , what would you come up with? Well...