Dynamist Blog

Dynamists Unite! How Republicans Can Work With Obama

Writing in Forbes, Rich Karlgaard explains the dynamist-stasist dichotomy I developed in The Future and Its Enemies and argues that it offers the best way for Republicans to think about how to work with the second term of the Obama administration. "How should Republicans work with Obama 2.0? The most useful role would be to do everything they can to make sure the dynamists prevail over the stasists in Obama's second Administration."

Among the topics he lists for potential cooperation is copyright reform, which, as I discuss in my new Bloomberg View column, unites dynamists across party lines. Indeed, the dynamist-stasis division (plus self-interest, of course) is the best way to think about the coalitions on that issue. If I ever do another edition of TFAIE, I'll have to have discuss intellectual property. It's funny how in 1998, everybody was worried about Microsoft's monopoly power, fearing it would crush innovation, when the far greater concern should have been the copyright bill working its way through Congress. (See my NYT op-ed and I-told-you-so video on the Microsoft case.)

Rich's discussion of how dynamists and stasists see themselves in Obama also echoes some of my work on his glamour: "Like all larger-than-life politicians, Obama is a Rorschach test: His fans see what they want to see in the man." (I would differentiate between politicians who are larger-than-life by virtue of their charisma and those rarer ones, like the early Obama, who are glamorous.)

UPDATE: Writing from a Democratic perspective, Michael Mandel (whose blog I recommend) struck a similar theme right after the election: "the biggest decision facing the next president—and Americans in general—goes far beyond the 'fiscal cliff', or any of the machinations which fascinate Washingtonians. Should the United States follow its current path of long-term stagnation, or should we choose a road that likely leads to rapid—but disruptive—growth?...

As you might guess, I favor the high-growth economy and the optimism about the future that comes along with it. But we can't fool ourselves–innovation is fundamentally disruptive and risky. We're not just talking smartphones and tablets. The list of potential breakthroughs is long and growing—3D printing to reinvigorate manufacturing, biotech to transform healthcare, nanotech to create new materials. Each of these potential breakthrough technologies can destroy existing businesses and jobs even as they juice up growth.

The high-growth versus stagnation decision does not fit easily into party boxes. There are Republicans and Democrats who favor the status quo and stagnation, just as there are Democrats and Republicans who favor innovation and a high-growth economy. This lack of ideological clarity explains why the debates barely mentioned the internet or mobile (See here http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2012/10/the-astonishing-obama-tech-boom-that-he-doesnt-want-to-talk-about/263601/).

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