Robert B. Reich, a co-founder of The American Prospect, is a Professor of Public Policy at the Goldman School of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley. His website can be found here and his blog can be found here.
Tony Blair moved there with great success. So, of course, did Bill Clinton after 1994. George W. Bush was supposed to move there when he assumed office but hasn't yet, which cost the Republicans the Senate; maybe he'll move there now. Trent Lott seems constitutionally unable to travel there. John McCain is doing everything he can to get there. Al Gore lost what should have been an easy win by not remaining there.
The puzzling question is why George W.'s three big plans are moving forward. The immense tax cut whose benefits will go mostly to the rich, the hugely expensive missile-defense shield of dubious technical possibility, and the aggressive expansion of oil, gas, coal, and nuclear-energy availability coupled with a rollback of environmental regulations--all of these are said to be necessary to the nation's continued prosperity and peace. Each move is ostensibly in response to a current or pending crisis: a major economic downturn; an escalating probability of attack from China, North Korea, or a "rogue" state; an energy crisis.
There are two faces of American nationalism-one negative, one positive. The negative face wants to block trade, deter immigrants, and eschew global responsibilities. The positive one wants to reduce poverty among the nation's children, ensure that everyone within America has decent health care, and otherwise improve the lives of all our people.
Both give priority to "us" inside the borders over "them" out there. Both believe that America should come first. Both depend for their force on a nation's sense of common purpose. But negative nationalism uses that commonality to exclude those who don't share it. Positive nationalism uses it to expand opportunities for those who do.
Forget a tax cut, other than an immediate one-year stimulus that puts money into the hands of people earning less than $50,000 a year. Forget paying down the debt. Use the federal surplus for universal health insurance. Working families won't get much out of any tax cut, and debt elimination is foolish. But working families keenly need affordable health care, now more than ever.
Ever since I argued in the Harvard Business Review last year that we should pay less attention to corporate nationality and more attention to whether our nation's work force was gaining the skills and competences it needed to compete, I've had the curious sense of being shoved -- quite against my will -- to the conservative side of the older debate over American industrial policy My first inkling of this transmigration came when The Wall Street Journal praised me and my argument in its editorial pages. If this were not cause enough for alarm, I found myself the recipient of expressions of shock and outrage from several fellow industrial-policy travelers who accused me of abandoning the worthy cause. And now, to deepen my gloom, comes Laura Tyson.