Popularism and freedom
Is there a pro-freedom progressivism? I’m not certain, but Matthew Yglesias sure seems to think so. In the past hour, he has tweeted the following:
1. Criticism of a “Really outrageous attack on free speech” by law enforcement in Arizona.
2. Argued “Let’s make it easier to get permits to build houses” An hour earlier he made the pitch more overtly political, “Own Ron DeSantis by making it easier to build houses in California.“
3. Argued “Let’s make clean energy deployment easier“
4. Argued “Let’s increase the supply of doctors and other medical professionals” by weakening the AMA cartel.
5. Five hours ago he suggested that “freedom” was the best way to sell the pro-choice argument:
As I’ve said many times, there’s no such thing as public opinion. It depends how you frame the question. I.e., the question creates the opinion.
6. Six hours ago, he tweeted, “YIMBY is about freedom, not apartment buildings.”
7. Twenty hours ago he tweeted on vaccines and nuclear power. In both areas he has written more extensive essays, sometimes advocating the removal of regulatory barriers that slow the development of vaccines and prevent the construction of (low carbon) nuclear power plants.
Matt Yglesias is certainly not a libertarian. But he’s also not a typical progressive. Rather he advocates something called “popularism”, which is roughly the achievement of progressive goals via popular means (and in some cases compromises.) This differs from “populism”, which often aims at non-progressive policy goals such as trade barriers, immigration barriers, and the weakening of criminal justice protections. In Yglesias’s view, unpopular “woke” excesses actually end up hurting the progressive cause.
I find it interesting that Yglesias often sees the “freedom” message as a way of making public policies more palatable. He spends part of the year in Texas, and seems to have a pretty good grasp of how middle Americans think, especially when compared to the typical coastal progressive.
PS. If I were pro-life, I’d be infuriated by this misleading and manipulative video. But as Yglesias correctly suggests, it is probably quite effective.
PPS. Warning: If progressives keep using the freedom message because it works, they might eventually find themselves beginning to believe in freedom. Handle with care! 🙂