What is the biggest challenge facing the democrats?
Matt Bai is a political reporter and staff writer for the New York Times Magazine, Bai graduated from Tufts in 1990 and received a Masters from the Columbia School of Journalism in 1994. Bai began his reporting career at the Boston Globe's metro desk; he spent five years as a national correspondent for Newsweek before coming to the Times in 2002. Bai has covered all sorts of national news: everything from the Columbine shootings to John Glenn's last space voyage to Mike Bloomberg's mayoral campaign. In recent years, Bai has focused primarily on intra-Democratic Party politics. He is the author of The Argument: Billionaires, Bloggers, and the Battle to Remake Democratic Politics, an analysis of the progressive movement. Bai's work has also appeared in both the 2005 and 2006 editions of The Best American Political Writing. Matt covered the 2008 presidential race for the New York Times Magazine.
Matt Bai: Well I think the greatest challenge facing both parties is change – it’s fundamental change. Look you can live in a lot of moments in American history where the world you’re born into and the world you govern are not that vastly different. They’re always different. Thirty or 40 years pass, you know things are gonna change in a country. But . . . but that said, you know you can . . . if you were . . . If you were born at a certain point in the 20th century after . . . after the Great Depression and you were governing in the 1960s or 1970s, you know the world was . . . The economy was pretty much the economy it was supposed to be. It was run by an industrial engine. The world was still divvied up among states who did menace to each other only. Or you know signed treaties and didn’t menace each other. I mean the world was pretty much the one . . . You had telephones, and you had televisions. You had nicer televisions and you had cable TV; but people were still communicating with one another in much the same way. And they were still posting letters by hand and sending them in a mailbox, you know. And then you have a moment like this where . . . where the world is just vastly different than it was 30, 40 years ago. And in a sense we’re caught between moments, right? We’re caught between what was an industrial age and what comes next, because we still have vestiges – one foot in the past . . . one foot in the past . . . one foot there and one foot in the future. So the challenge for the Democratic party or any party is to lead the way into that future; it’s to articulate what . . . what government . . . what . . . and the economic engine, and foreign policy of a country are gonna look like in the era when none of those things are operable anymore; when the economy is not industrial driven; where people communicate with each other all over the world in a flash, right? Where people expect to have options and choices in their lives. Where the threats that affect the world are not necessarily states to states, but a bunch of people who can communicate on the Internet and do a great deal more damage than a general in some country can. You know this is a whole new landscape. And I’m coming around to the view that it’s too much to ask. It’s just too much to ask of a generation born into a different world to govern in this one. I think the baby boom generation has done what it can. I don’t . . . I don’t indict them as selfish, worthless people. I just think it’s too . . . It may have been just too much to ask a generation born in the 1950s to figure out how to govern in the year 2007 or 2008. And I’m not . . . I’m coming around to the view that leadership . . . real leadership, and real change, and real evolution of government will . . . will have to wait for another generation.
Recorded on: 12/13/07
Fundamental changes will challenge both parties.
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