A list of political cures for what ails the United States, offered in a spirit of bipartisanship.
In this age of schismatic political arguments, there has been no shortage of attempts at compromise. In his debut book, Bragg tries to harmonize the two warring parties by combining the embrace of free markets and fiscal restraint typical of the right, and a socially liberal tolerance that has become the progressive signature of the left. Bragg lucidly catalogs his policy points in quick succession, hitting all the key issues. The author largely agrees with conservatives that the power of free market economics needs to be harnessed to produce wealth and redress increasing inequality, which would mean that liberals need to repair their toxic relations with the world of commerce. But he castigates conservatives for betraying their own libertarian principles by insisting on intrusions into the public sphere when it comes to issues like religion, homosexuality, and abortion. Often, the position Bragg endorses is a moderate amalgam of both political perspectives. For example, he essentially agrees with Bill Clinton’s triangulation of the welfare issue, and advocates generous subsidies to individuals in genuine need, and none to those unwilling to help themselves. He also takes quite seriously ecological responsibility as a civic obligation, but excoriates environmental extremists for needlessly hobbling the economy. Bragg’s prose is frank and lively, although he tends to reduce monstrously complex problems to matters of simple common sense. For example, it’s not economically obvious that a national trade deficit is catastrophic; in fact, experts are divided on this issue. Also, it’s not clear that his free market version of Smoot-Hawley tariffs is a pro-market solution, or that it wouldn’t court more harm than help. One could also cite the political impracticality of some of his counsel; neither party seems to favor the elimination of the Department of Education, however dysfunctional it may be. The author seems to consider the nation’s circumstances so dire that the hunger for compromise and drastic action has reached a peak. “America is broke, despairing and declining economically at a rate so fast it is almost unimaginable. It is time for Draconian measures.” This book is too short to make all of Bragg’s claims plausible, but it is still a well-crafted reminder that any political progress will require bipartisan unity.
A vibrant attempt to articulate a grand compromise between the American left and right.