I’m with Steve: risk-spreading is a great theme for the Democrats. It fits in with my favorite proposal for a five-word summary of Democratic domestic policy: “We’re all in this together.” That’s something Americans believe.
But Americans also believe what is also true: that risk-taking is a great engine of progress. So it’s essential to make the point that risk-spreading actually encourages risk-taking: you can be much more daring in your high-wire act if you’re working with a safety net.
As Megan McArdle (“Jane Galt”) has pointed out, making life harder on those who go bankrupt discourages entrepreneurship. So if we argue skilfully, we can be seen as promoting both security and risk-taking.
Footnote “We’re all in it together” ideas have more appeal in wartime than they do in peacetime, since war tends to make us think of a larger “us” against an external “them,” while peace allows us to focus on internal divisions. So there may be a tension in practice between running a saner foreign policy and attracting political support for a sounder domestic policy. However, there seems to be little danger of a sensible foreign policy over the next two years.
Second footnote When I was young and irresponsible, I worked for Edwin Land at Polaroid. One of his slogans was “No person, and no company, incapable of failing cheerfully will ever achieve anything great.” It’s well known that one of the engines of Silicon Valley’s success is a culture in which having founded a company that crashed and burned is a resume entry, not the end of a career. Megan promises a book on these themes.