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Which party will do a better job of leading America's retreat from greatness?

Usually when I mention David Brooks it's to disagree with him, but he got it just right in yesterday's NYT op ed, Pundit Under Protest. He is very concerned, as am I, that the 2012 elections will not be about what they should be about.  The electorate is appropriately worried about how to avert a national decline from greatness, but--

[T]he two parties contesting this election are unusually pathetic.  Their programs are unusually unimaginative. Their policies are unusually incommensurate to the problem at hand.

. . . .

The election is happening during a downturn in the economic cycle, but the core issue is the accumulation of deeper structural problems that this recession has exposed — unsustainable levels of debt, an inability to generate middle-class incomes, a dysfunctional political system, the steady growth of special-interest sinecures and the gradual loss of national vitality.

Both parties describe our problems as dire and unprecedented in our lifetimes.  Yet neither party proposes any substantial departures from the policies that got us into this mess.  They are both doubling down on defending the status quo and giving mere lip service to the idea that it would be nice if things would get better for ordinary Americans in spite of that.  There is not, for example, any Presidential candidate and scarcely any prominent Member of Congress who proposes a growth agenda like we had from 1933 until about 1970. If we were to do what is necessary to create full employment and even modestly rising real middle-class incomes, that by itself would solve almost all of our federal, state, local, and family fiscal problems. Remember how we had rising employment, rising real wages, and governmental budget surpluses in the last five years of the 20th Century?

It is somewhat of a mystery why no candidate or party has seized the unoccupied pro-growth political territory.  Surely it would be popular with a majority of voters.  The only explanation I can think of for the absence of this voice in the political fray is that it would necessarily propose significant policy changes that would be deeply unpopular with the sources of campaign funds. What's your explanation for the absence of a pro-growth political movement? 

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