For much of the 20th century, progressives put their political capital into building a safety net to protect Americans against market excesses. They aimed for economic security from cradle to retirement.
Today, many on the left say that health care reform is just one more step in this effort.
But it would be a mistake for Democrats to make expanding the entitlement state the defining goal in the 21st century as well.
Rather, they should focus on a new signature cause: policies that build national and individual wealth. For Democrats, who may be more familiar with how to cut up the pie than increase its size, this marks a significant shift.