Thursday, November 24, 2005
When it comes to politics, do ideas really matter? Not according to Jonathan Chait, a senior editor for The New Republic. In a July article for the magazine, Chait takes issue with the current Democratic obsession with "new ideas" and says pouring money into think tanks is a waste of time, offering false hope to a dispirited liberal establishment. Worse yet, it distracts Democrats from the hard work of winning elections. In good contrarian fashion, Chait makes a provocative case, insisting that ideas lack the transformative power that Democrats crave. Of course, Chait's argument is its own sort of new idea: When liberals disagree on everything except the need for new ideas, what could be fresher than the case for moribund thinking?