Linda Chavez Sees Social Democracy Around the Corner


Dave Weigel gets an intriguing quote from Linda Chavez in his article on Employee Free Choice Act opponents:

“This is basically about a 40-year struggle to bring the social democratic model to America,” said Linda Chavez, the president of the Center for Equal Opportunity and President George W. Bush’s first nominee for Secretary of Labor, on Thursday. “Unfortunately, I think it’s going to succeed. Having 58 or 59 Senate seats, instead of 55 seats-that makes a big difference.”

I wish I shared Chavez’s pessimism (or optimism, or whatever you want to call it) about the right’s odds of blocking a social democratization of the United States. Even if EFCA were to pass in its strong form, which I’m not at all certain it can, I think that would still leave us with a long way to go. I suppose the rhetorical function of this sort of right-wing rhetoric about “Europeanizing” America or a “social democratic” model is to get progressive to swiftly disavow any ambitions of changing the country in a serious way. But while of course it would be foolish to try to model U.S. social policy precisely on what exists in any foreign country, I actually think it’s quite important for progressives to sketch a view on the horizon of what sort of society progressive governance is supposed to create. And I think Chavez’s nightmare scenario of a country in which the middle and working classes earn a larger share of national income, in which educational attainment is rising rather than flat, in which people are healthier and live longer, in which crime is lower and fewer children grow up in poverty isn’t such a terrible place to start.