The present financial crash marks the abject failure of the last administration's policy of non-regulation of business. In response, the election of President Obama means a shift to the left in American politics.
A new kind of relationship between government and business is emerging. The nature of this relationship will give direction to our country for the remainder of the century.
Government that is both larger and wiser will take enlightened leadership -- and it will take new revenue. In California, Gov. Schwarzenegger has shown the ability to grow in office -- from calling legislators "girlie men" a few years ago to brokering a plan with legislators to save California from bankruptcy a few weeks ago. His plan calls for new taxes, and not just cuts to government. Moderates in both parties grieve the fact that Schwarzenegger was born outside of the U.S. and cannot run for president. He models the low-partisan governing we need in the midst of our financial turmoil.
While in office, Gov. Pawlenty has shown no such ability to grow beyond his own political ideology. No doubt this inability is the reason that Pawlenty seems to be falling from the "A" list to "B" list among Republican presidential hopefuls. In Minnesota (and the country), people making over $250,000 are the only ones who can afford to help with the changes the state needs to make. Equalizing tax rates for these citizens at the 11.5 percent rate that lower income folks pay makes hard but necessary political sense.
With his dogged insistence on cuts to government services and no new taxes, Pawlenty now finds himself to the right of Conan the Barbarian! The question is -- for the good of Minnesota and his own political future -- can Pawlenty (at this late date) grow in office?