Dylan Matthews’s “Five conservative reforms millennials should be fighting for” isn’t just an admirably intricate piece of trolling. It’s a perfect illustration of why you can’t take Washington’s policy debates at face value. You can’t understand what’s happened to Congress in recent years if you don’t understand what Matthews did in that piece.
A bit of background. On Jan. 3, Jesse Myerson published an article in Rolling Stone with the innocuous title “Five Economic Reforms Millennials Should Be Fighting For.” Myerson frames his agenda as an effort to do away with unemployment, jobs, landlords, private capital ownership and Wall Street. Those last four, as you might expect, made conservatives’ heads explode.
“If you’re a Millennial who loves bread lines, prison camps, forced famines, and abject human misery, then you’ll love the latest offering from Rolling Stone,” wrote the Federalist’s Sean Davis.
But the policies Myerson advocates are rather less radical. His agenda, at its core, calls for a work guarantee, a basic minimum income, a land-value tax, a sovereign wealth fund and a public banking option. As Dylan Matthews noticed, all these policies that Republicans were labeling as socialism have been endorsed by major conservatives. So he rewrote Myerson’s piece from the conservative point of view, advocating all the same policies but changing those cited as authorities and those blamed for the state of the economy.
All of a sudden, conservatives liked the article, and liberals — well, liberals didn’t really like Dylan anymore. And they told him so in pretty offensive terms.