Editor's Note

Editor's Note

Michael Tomasky introduces Issue #31

By Michael Tomasky

Rasputin-like, the Tea Party seems to get shot and lanced and suffocated but never dies. The movement lost huge amounts of credibility and popularity in October with the government shutdown and the defund Obamacare fiasco. Some exasperated establishment Republicans finally started saying that they were going to organize efforts to support establishment candidates in primary skirmishes, but it remains to be seen whether these endeavors will generate grassroots support among non-Tea Party Republicans. On the Tea Party side, meanwhile, it’s pedal to the metal, with extremists lining up to challenge “sellout” Republicans like South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham, singled out by one of his foes as a “community organizer for the Muslim Brotherhood.”

Where will it all end? When will it end? The October crisis gave us the idea of asking some leading thinkers and movement observers to give a sense of the Tea Party future. Their belief that the Tea Party probably isn’t going anywhere anytime soon won’t necessarily make for a better world, but it arguably does make for better reading. Theda Skocpol tells us why the movement has some staying power. Alan Abramowitz shows why the GOP leadership won’t cut it loose any time soon. Christopher Parker weighs in on whether, and how, the movement might outlast President Obama. Sean Wilentz enters the debate over its historical roots. Leslie Gelb and Michael Kramer consider the Tea Partiers’ impact on Republican internationalism and U.S. foreign policy. And Dave Weigel weighs the chances of a Tea Party candidate winning the 2016 GOP nomination.

For years, economists have told us that prosperity should be measured by the accumulation of wealth—by money injected into the economy. But what about the money injected into the economy by cigarette makers or credit default swappers? That money, and a lot more like it, does more harm than good. Is there a way to take that into account? Nick Hanauer and Eric Beinhocker say there ought to be: Prosperity, they argue in their provocative essay, isn’t money; prosperity really exists in finding solutions to society’s problems. The economy, and society, need to be reorganized to reflect this reality.

In 2014, Congress may hold its most extensive debate in years on its 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force in response to the 9/11 attacks. What should Congress do? First and foremost, writes Heather Hurlburt, it must stop talking and thinking of terrorism as an “existential threat”; beyond that, Congress needs to prod the executive branch for more transparency so the American and global publics understand what is being done out there and why, and so that Americans can render their verdict on those actions at the ballot box.

No one quite knows the exact extent of cybercrime. But we know it’s big. Massively big. And here’s something else we know, thanks to Jonathan Lusthaus: that our current methods of fighting it are grossly inadequate. Lusthaus argues that rather than try to trump cybercriminals with technology, which just leads to a never-ending arms race, we need to learn more about who these people are and what their habits are.

That’s the excellent feature well. We also publish in this issue three marvelous responses—Ramesh Ponnuru and Jamelle Bouie deliver trenchant reactions to William A. Galston and Elaine C. Kamarck’s essay on the GOP’s “New Politics of Evasion” from the previous issue, and Jillian C. York responds to Henry Farrell’s widely discussed tech intellectuals article.

Finally, four terrific book reviews: the esteemed journalist Jeffrey Goldberg on Pakistan; Barnard College’s Sheri Berman on Yuval Levin’s Burke and Paine; Emily Bell, the former Guardian journalist, on David Folkenflik’s Murdoch; and Mike Abramowitz of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum on the life and legacy of Raphael Lemkin, the man who pushed the world to recognize genocide.

We are thrilled to welcome back to the masthead co-founder Kenneth Baer, who left the journal in 2009 to join the Obama Administration. He’s back in the private sector now, and we are delighted that he’s rejoined the team.

Michael Tomasky is the editor of Democracy: A Journal of Ideas and a special correspondent for The Daily Beast.

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