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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[…]

Following through with new ideas is what can make this election stand out.

Matt Bai: Every campaign is different. And every campaign we say is gonna be the most important one in American history, etc. etc. I’ll tell you what. I think this campaign has the potential to be one of the most important in America history, but only if the candidates make it so. Only if after getting the nominations and going into the arena, they’re willing to articulate some, you know . . . some vision of the government that isn’t safe, and cautious, and full of the same old rhetoric. You know only if somebody is serious about a healthcare plan and says, “Here’s how we need to do it. It’s gonna change the structure of the country. It’s gonna make industry very unhappy, but it’s gonna free up businesses out of the burden of this . . . out of this competitive burden of carrying benefits costs. And it’s gonna give workers the opportunity to change jobs or work for themselves. And they’re not gonna be crippled by the costs of healthcare like . . .” This can be an incredibly important election if people are willing to offer and follow through on those kinds of ideas, and fight about it, and willing to make a few people unhappy all the way. But if it’s gonna be a safe, focus-grouped campaign mostly based on capitalizing on the constituencies that you know already exist; and promising some sort of incremental change or going back to the same policy prescriptions we’ve had, then no. It doesn’t have to be an important campaign. It could just be a placeholder.

Recorded on: 12/13/07