Five Best Wednesday Columns

David Wagner
Five Best Wednesday Columns

Jonathan Cohn in The New Republic on Obama winning a mandate The question after every presidential election is whether or not the winner earned enough voter trust to claim a "mandate" on any of his policy positions. Jonathan Cohn argues that Obama's win comes with just such an onus, with voters especially approving his healthcare reform package. "I’ve waited more than two years to write this sentence: The Affordable Care Act is here to stay," writes Cohn. "Implementation of the law will present huge challenges, but, for the first time in a long while, the administration and its allies can focus on those challenges rather than on rearguard political fights to keep the program alive."

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Jonathan Haidt in The New York Time Magazine on the benefits of sharing common fears It's hard to imagine the jingoism and paranoia that often springs up in times of war being a good thing, but NYU professor Jonathan Haidt thinks sharing common fears is good for national well-being. "A national election focuses our attention on a single level of competition—political party versus political party," the NYU psychology professor writes, offering another one of his contrarian arguments. "But after that, it’s time for our national team to come together to fight the many threats and enemies that confront us. Let’s unite with our cousins to fight the stranger!"

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Dana Milbank in The Washington Post on Romney's election night digs With Romney's 47 percent remarks seen by many observers as one of the election's most disastrous gaffes, markers of social class came to define Romney's doomed campaign. And the exclusivity of wealth followed him all the way up to the very end, writes Dana Milbank, who was at Romney's election headquarters last night. "It was a victory party fit for the 1 percent," writes Milbanks of Romney's event at the Boston Exhibition and Convention Center, complete with black tie-outfitted waiters and a $1,000 price tag of entrance for reporters. "The very location set the candidate and his well-heeled supporters apart from the masses." 

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Linda Woodhead in The Guardian on how far religious freedom can go Wondering if religious tolerance can ever go too far, Linda Woodhead sizes up two approaches: the US style of libertarian religious permissiveness and the Europeans style of secularist separation between public and religious spheres. Woodhead writes, "When they take their approaches to their logical conclusion, then, both the libertarian and secularist positions go too far. One pushes individual liberty, and sometimes group autonomy, so hard that it denies state and society any space at all." Ultimately, she argues for the libertarian approach up until the point that religious freedom encroaches on the equality of others. She'd be particularly in favor of putting legal checks on the religious freedoms of people like the bed and breakfast owners who recently wouldn't give a gay couple a room

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John Tamny in Forbes on how Romney's economic advisors blew it Keeping in mind that the US is still in the grips of the greatest economic downturn since the Great Depression—and that presidential challengers historically win in these situations—John Tamny notes, "the election was Romney’s to lose." But lose he did, and Tamny thinks it has something to do with the hapless economic advisors on the Romney campaign. "Personnel as they say, is policy, and in Glenn Hubbard, Greg Mankiw and Kevin Hassett, Romney had the wrong personnel that fed him bad policy ideas."