Friedman justifies the “radical” tag by emphasizing the distance between his agenda and “politics as usual.” His real analytical problem, though, comes with the word “center.” The fundamental reason that politicians haven’t cut entitlements and raised middle-class taxes isn’t the power of hard-core liberals and conservatives. It’s that the public—including most people who could reasonably be described as moderates—doesn’t want them to do these things.
He writes, “My definition of broken is simple. It is a system in which Republicans will be voted out for doing the right thing (raising taxes when needed) and Democrats will be voted out for doing the right thing (cutting services when needed). When your political system punishes lawmakers for the doing the right things, it is broken.” The problem isn’t “the system,” except insofar as it is responsive to the voters. That’s his problem. As his paeans to China’s government suggest.
There’s something creepy and profoundly anti-democratic about Friedman’s obsession with how “well-run” China is. But I expect him and other pundits to talk more and more about how much better it would be if we just let elites run everything without input from the plebes.
What’s amusing is that the two greatest debacles of the last twenty years were engineered by an elite “radical center”. Tea baggers didn’t dream up the Iraq War or deregulate credit default swaps.
And, for all Friedman’s talk about rewarding parties for good behavior, he’s never been willing to praise Democrats for their relatively responsible governing practices.