Kthug had a good piece the other day about:
[The] “wonk gap” — the G.O.P.’s near-complete lack of expertise on anything substantive
Krugman goes on to lament that the Republicans’ ignorance cult still controls the House. But should we really be surprised that they do?
I probably have more faith in a system “where the country is basically run by the civil servants” than Atrios does, but, from a political standpoint, expertise on substantive policy is completely worthless.
Obviously, in a TED talk-infested world, technical-sounding discussions flatter the sensibilities of both totebaggers and would-be nonpartisan moderate independents. Most educated people prefer Ezra Klein detailing CBO projections to Sarah Palin screaming about death panels, though they probably understand neither’s arguments (Palin’s doesn’t make logical sense anyway). On the other hand, they can easily find wonky-sounding nonsense from David Brooks et al. if they want to vote Republican while keeping up their intellectual pretenses.
I don’t think there’s much advantage to being the wonk party or the reality-based party. It’s much smarter to play on demographic advantages, portray Republicans as old, sexist, xenophobic, etc. It’s the only way to a real majority. Obama’s been reasonably good about this, and I certainly hope the next president is too.
Update. I mean no rhetorical advantage. Being reality-based does make for more effective policies. I’m skeptical that effective policies help win elections, though, other than “home runs” like Social Security.
So does this put you in the “abandoning the moral high ground” camp from those Jacobin mag articles ?
Doug Milhous J
Yes, but I think we should also abandon rational self-interest for the most part.
Especially considering how completely true it is of their elected rank and file.
@Doug Milhous J: How about both, govern using rational policies but win elections using every advantage you have. Fight to win. Realize that Bobo is not much better than Palin, I would argue that he is much worse.
Who needs expertise when you have a billionaire backed propaganda machine?
I’m not sure that it does. IMO, being “the wonk party” or “the everybody but racist whites party” is more about emphasis than it is about substance. The basic problem is that wonkery doesn’t sell, even if it gives you good policy advice. So we need to keep listening to the wonks, but not let them run our election campaigns.
The GOP doesn’t need to be wonky when their default position is “do nothing.” Their few basic issues – cutting taxes, banning abortion, opposing gay marriage – are very simple things. Everybody gets a tax cut, you get to keep more of your money! Abortion is wrong and shouldn’t be allowed! Gay marriage is wrong and shouldn’t be allowed. Don’t need much thought to support those positions.
But if you actually want to do stuff, you have to be able to explain what you’re going to do and what the most likely consequences will be. That’s not saying you have to have all 230 members of the House and 55 Senators know the exact details of every policy proposal, but it doesn’t hurt to have a couple of people who have in depth knowledge of a couple of issues – it also helps if those people are telegenic and can string more than three sentences together.
Finally, I don’t think it’s an either/or situation. Every aspect of the game can be used to your advantage, and most of them are interrelated, so you can’t just say, “eh, screw this aspect or fuck that one.”
This was one of the messages of my undergrad Roman history class. That a good civil service could withstand any number of bad emperors.
I’ll second this. Be reality based in your policy, but ruthlessly political to win elections so you can implement your policy. I had a political operative tell me that when I ran for office a number of years ago when I was lamenting some of the tactics he suggested I use in my campaign. He said, if you want to implement your ideas, you have to get elected first.
Anyone know the cost to get David Brooks to make an appearance?
I think he would be a hit at a particular wedding reception.
@srv: Have the Applebee’s salad bar cater it. Make the wedding theme humility…….
Gin & Tonic
This week’s Economist has an interesting piece about 4-H (yes, 4-H) and how it introduces real science to kids in what we coastal elites wouldn’t consider real science-y areas, which then contributes to actual evidence-based agriculture. A bit of an idealistic piece, IMO, but interesting nevertheless. Maybe the next Ezra won’t come from Harvard but from Nebraska?
Doug, cynical much?
Rhetorically? No. Wonkishness doesn’t drive people to the polls on paper. But in practice, it’s kind of important to know what you are doing rather than just looking like you know what you are doing. Say what you will about Obama, but his policies have been largely productive. The stimulus helped rebound the economy. The CFPB is protecting credit consumers and driving down financing costs. Obamacare is shaping up to put a giant squish on insurance premiums. His SC nominees have been reliable progressive votes from the bench while still coming across as savvy judicial voices rather than conservative rubber stampers like Alito or Thomas.
I wouldn’t have the kind of faith I do in the Democrats if I didn’t think they had a wonk-edge. I wouldn’t revile the GOP as much as I do if I didn’t consider them such chronic fuck-ups. Wonkishness matters to voters in hindesight, and a positive hindesight is kind of important when advocating for future political reforms.
You only have to look at the clusterfuck that is Syria to recognize this. How many Democrats would have such a knee-jerk rejection of a Syrian bombing campaign if Iraq or Afghanistan hadn’t been such fuck-ups from top to bottom? If we were just getting out of Kosovo under Clinton, rather than our two-front Asian land mess under Bush, how many liberals would be downright hawkish now? :-p Wonk matters.
to the extent that republicans have a political advantage, it’s because dems don’t fight well. It’s pretty easy to explain why republicans have bad ideas for the country. Granted, they have decades of propaganda backing them up. This fills in a lot of major gaps in their rhetoric. But they are selling a load of bullshit, and that really isn’t that hard to point out in terms that people understand.
Doug, I think you should read this opus by Brooks on the NYT Wedding Pages.
It will give you hope.
Wonks? If you’re reading Brooks, doesn’t that make you part of the Wank Party instead?
There’s a huge advantage – you actually get things done. Policy is not usually driven by politics. It’s usually driven by individuals that genuinely care about solving some problem, and then grinding through the system until they accomplish it. Politics can help that effort or (more likely these days) hurt it. But when you have policy driven solely by politics, it becomes an utter disaster and usually backfires even politically. It’s transparently unserious, and you end up outsourcing your expertise to ALEC and other corporate groups that have their own agendas that you unwittingly sign onto because you’re too stupid and lazy to actually understand the legislation you’re backing.
So, yeah, the demographic game can keep you in power for the short term, but you wind up with nothing to actually campaign on. At some point you really need to point to some accomplishment that the public sees as an accomplishment.
What Kthug was saying is that the modern GOP has basically abandoned any kind of reality-based, policy-oriented politics that once required the input of people, who, you know, knew stuff about policy, economics, and stuff — its all just conspiratorial demagoguery now. We’ve gone from a Heritage Foundation that once supplied the health care reform platform that became Obamacare to a Heritage Foundation that is now largely devoted to figuring out how to raise money by suggesting that Obama secretly plotted to use chemical weapons in Syria to cover up his role in Benghazi, which was orchestrated to cover up a plan to use the Muslim Brotherhood to confiscate people’s assault weapons and force them to get gay married. Krauthammer and Will — two of the last supposedly wonky conservative pundits — were both eager promoters of the “unskewed polling” that the whole GOP machine bought into last year. What economists they do listen to are unreconstructed Austrian Schoolers whose ideas are about as relevant to the field today as the theory of phlogisten is to modern chemistry (h/t Krugman, again, for the comparison)
It’s being the wonky party that will keep the Dems one step ahead of a party that refuses to deal with reality because it upsets a bunch of old cranky white guys. The average voter may not care about whose pollster is more accurate or what the real economics of health care are, but party leaders and our congresspeople should be because then they’re dealing with reality.
Well, it also means that the GOP will lose control of even the policy they care about. They’ll keep having to outsource it to Heritage and corporate policy shops like ALEC. This is a very dangerous trend for them – because they’re trusting that the external agendas will align with their demographic ones. That’s highly unlikely to be the case. The external agendas will be driven by whoever is paying, not by who is voting.
Villago Delenda Est
ranchandsyrup @ 14:
Unfortunately, when I tried to reply to your comment (“The stupid, it BURNS!”) I was redirected toward your link. Some bizarre crazy link weirdness.
Seriously, these teatard types are fucking too stupid to be allowed to continue to live. They are consuming oxygen and returning NOTHING but carbon dioxide.
I also would have accepted: “Red means run, son,” but I suppose that’s best saved for use on a post about an electoral map.
Either way, I don’t think they’re here to deliver the mail.
‘The garbage man can’
@Villago Delenda Est:
They don’t even make good carbon sinks. If only we needed carbo sinks, that would so transform America and the green economy . . .
@Villago Delenda Est: Weird. But no one can convince me that the W in WP doesn’t stand for weird.
The pic made me think of the Tom Clancy book where Stalin had Hitler kept in a cage and they called teh program “HitlerCare”.
Villago Delenda Est
These two maggots should be publically pantsed and then their asses beaten raw with bamboo switches.
Oh, wait, they’d probably enjoy that. I’m going to have to cogitate on this some more.
This. I think one of the Democrats’ long-term advantages is that they’ve become the competent government party, and people who pay attention between elections have started to notice. That doesn’t win as many votes as you might like, but it wins enough votes to make a difference. You don’t get to be the competent government party without caring about facts, evidence, policy, and similar wonkish stuff.
Jockey Full of Malbec
@Doug Milhous J:
I reaiize that Punk Rock is your personal brand out here (we’re about the same age, and I hear the exact same dog-whistles that you do)…
…but I’m not convinced that glib nihilism is the best possible path to the future.
Policy matters. And good policy, by definition, must be reality-based.
The day that the Democrats become Just Another Feel-good Brand is the exact day that I stop being one.
Bill E Pilgrim
Well it sort of depends on what your goal is. If it’s to make sure that Democrats get elected and Republicans don’t no matter what either of them are like, then yes, it’s better not to focus on whether Republicans are reality-based, or for that matter, whether Democrats aren’t, and just focus on identity politics. That would be in some sense of course exactly what the Republicans decided some time ago.
If your goal is to actually elect reality-based people, then the story might be different.
In case you think this is entirely hypothetical, you should remember that a significant portion of the left has complaints along exactly these lines about the Democrats who are being elected, up to and very much including President Obama. Seeing a Democratic President start pushing non-reality based talking points about how government is just like a family and we have to tighten our belts was obviously distressing to someone like Krugman, which you can see by reading his posts at the time.
That’s what Krugman is complaining about in terms of Republicans; whether someone is reality-based or not is of supreme importance in his mind, it’s not just one of several ways one can choose to attack Republicans in case one works better than the other politically.
It gets tricky because obviously at the moment the GOP is both the sexist, racist, and aging white party and also a very non-reality based party, so clearly harping on one to defeat them from getting elected gets you the other goal as well, that is, defeating a racist defeats an austerity fantasist at the same time. Losing track of the fact that both matter, however, is not something I see as a positive.
Again, this is less hypothetical than one might think; I’ve seen people post right here with the most astonishingly tortured logic and sheer hypocrisy, all in trying to support things that the same person was screaming about when George W Bush was doing them. Not everyone obviously, and it seems less so on the whole lately, but engaging in “our side must win, let’s forget about why” thinking doesn’t seem a purely imaginary danger to me.
TED will be seen by future historians as one of the fundamental root causes of the death of any and all equality in this country. Feel-good propaganda produced by elitists for elitists.
Villago Delenda Est
Unfortunately, that’s a very small group of people.
Most Americans are busy with their own personal lives, making ends meet, raising the kids, have beer and TV. They take so many things for granted…things like the 40 hour work week, overtime pay, etc. for granted without knowing that others quite literally gave their lives for those things in decades past. Past is prologue, and most people don’t know the past, and therefore don’t possess a context for the present. Also, too, critical thinking skills are actively discouraged in some places because they tend to cause people to question the current “perfect” order, or question the fantasy lost golden age that the teatards want to take the country back to.
It’s a difficult problem to deal with, and requires superlative communications skills to relate to those people who are so busy and may not have the tools handy to comprehend.
@Jewish Steel: I think this was one of the few things that Shrub or Darth remembered from college, because their efforts to pack the civil service with closet teabaggers has been effective beyond their wildest dreams.
Come to think of it, that’s all “de-Baathification” was – the total dismantling of Iraq’s civil government infrastructure.
I fail to see the distinction.
@CONGRATULATIONS!: Yes, it will be TED talks. Not the decision to drop the top marginal rates while raising payroll taxes. Not the preferential treatment of investor income over labor income. Not the war on unions resumed by the republicans after WW2. Not Regan and Bush…but TED talks.
Davis X. Machina
@Jockey Full of Malbec:
Be realistic. Demand the impossible.
(Failing that, take for the incomprehensible ant the points…)
@Villago Delenda Est:
Just force Will listen to Sarah Palin read some
pulpy fictionRegnery book in that voice for as long as it takes for his cognition to cease, or until it devours his will to live.
@Roger Moore: And not just on policy but also on execution. The Katrina response was a classic example of a government that was geared toward remaining in power and not in the expertise to run a country. How many deaths could be attributed to that? How many voters watched Anderson Cooper on TV and decided that the GOP just didn’t know what the fuck they were doing? A notable part of the 2008 election was the ‘competence’ question, which Obama won by far – which I took as fallout from Katrina more than anything else.
@? Martin: How does your theory explain the 2010 Congressional elections? Did people forget about Katrina and Iraq?
@schrodinger’s cat: no they realized that Acorn had stolen the 2008 elections and put a near in the Oval Office
Davis X. Machina
With friends like this who needs an enema?
@Davis X. Machina: I knew Mudcat was an idiot, but backing the guy who wants to outlaw blowjobs? That’s just about the dumbest thing a person can do.
@MikeJ: maybe he’s just really into anal ……..
@schrodinger’s cat: What did Congress have to do with Katrina? That’s all executive branch stuff. I think people generally understand that. If anything they assume too much authority on the executive branch, and think of Congress as nothing but oversight.
Just Some Fuckhead, Thought Leader
The fireworks in Missouri over a GOP tax cut that their term-limited Dem governor has vetoed are wonderful.
I particularly love this quote
One suspects that Mr. Jones does not understand why a Democrat isn’t rolling over for the Nth time. Jones is shocked, shocked I say, that a Democrat can play as hard as asshole Republicans can.
We need to confound more GOP folks this way.
Yep. De-Baathification was basically the 2.0 iteration of “shock therapy,” an attempt to finally implement all the Reaganites’ wet dreams in a context where they wouldn’t have to worry about the pesky Democrats or public opposition or entrenched bureaucracies that’ve managed to keep the Progressive Era/New Deal/Great Society reforms more or less alive over here. For that, you throw out anyone and everyone even remotely associated with the old government, and replace them with a gaggle of Heritage Foundation interns fresh out of school.
Guess what happens…
What’s really funny (black humor) is to watch them do this and then contrast that with all their bitching about “intellectuals” and “elites” and all these nerds and geeks with all this fancy book-l’arnin’ but no real world experience. Yep, I sure do hate it when that happens… that’s why I still won’t be voting for you.
@CONGRATULATIONS!: Yep. That’s what made Cheney and his deputies Scooter Libby and David Addington so dangerous. They knew how to operate the control levers and buttons inside the bureaucracy (mostly DoD, but other agencies as well).
Nearing retirement at the time, USAF Lt. Col. Karen Kwiatkowski watched this awful process in real time. She was the informant for the late David Hackworth.
She’s now a somewhat wingnutty libertarianish person who appears to dabble in politics, but she performed a real public service at the time – futile though it may have been – by chronicling all this crap from the inside.
To keep to the 3-link limit per comment to avoid moderation, I’ll link the three posts she did on this for AmCom magazine below (those same posts are, or used to be, also in the archives of the odious Lew Rockwell’s site; no link for him from me).
@? Martin: A lot of GOP governors got elected in 2010 as well, surely that’s an executive office? So why didn’t Bush’s fuck ups make people think twice about voting for GOP at any level?
Karen Kwiatkowski’s posts (3-part series) in The American Conservative:
In Rumsfeld’s Shop (Dec. 1, 2003)
Conscientious Objector (Dec. 15, 2003)
Open Door Policy (Jan. 19, 2004)
I wouldn’t say that. I’d say the GOP has a lot of expertise on tin-foil hat conspiracy theories. Here’s some guys who think our warmongering in the Middle East is all about bringing brown refugees to lilly-white Tennessee so as to “dehomogenize” Southern white culture. It’s all a big plot, see, to use YOUR tax dollars to oppress the white Southern white Southerners!
Ohhhh it makes so much sense now!
They’re planning a rally south of Nashville. Can’t wait.
Villago Delenda Est
Not only is he an idiot, he’s a lying idiot. Makes Carville look sane, and Carville’s the one married to an apprentice of Darth Cheney.
Villago Delenda Est
Where is GEN Sherman when you need him?
Wow, how about both? Can’t you play demographic “card” and then turn around and be the wonk party? Sorry that totebaggers and TED talks offend your sense of whatever the fuck it offends, but ideas and how to properly implement them are exactly the POINT of elections.
Yeah, and the terrifying thing is that, as mentioned above, the smart ones among them are doing everything they can to stack the civil service with people who think “tin foil hat conspiracy theories” ARE real expertise.
Related: there’s a (very (VERY)) left wing blogger named Rahul Mahajan who mostly does foreign policy stuff who had a blog post up a few years ago about what “expertise” had come to mean –
@Gin & Tonic: Ezra didn’t come from Harvard. He came from one of the California colleges and not the top tier ones – I’m too lazy to google but I think it was UC Irvine.
A quick search shows that Ezra started at UCSC and transferred to UCLA, from which he graduated. You might have thought it was UCI because he grew up in Irvine.
Why would you want to give up the intellectual high ground? Just because some people don’t care about intellectualism doesn’t mean it isn’t valuable to others. Demographics are important, yes, but if we get as complacent as the R’s did because we think people are born to vote for Dems, that makes the Dems just as vulnerable if the demographic tides shift again.
Not to mention, I am in this party BECAUSE they are the smarter, more compassionate party.
I wouldn’t have had as much faith in the Democrats if I didn’t think they also have a reality-edge along with a wonk-edge.
Gin & Tonic
@mai naem: Sorry, I must have been thinking of Matty. Ezra’s the one who can spell, right?
According to Google:
Off hand, the only thing I can think a BA in Political Science educates the student for is an MA in Political Science.
ETA: @Roger Moore got there first. I win because snark.
@Anoniminous: True of a lot of social sciences and all liberal arts (and I speak as someone with a PhD in English). I once heard a talk that claimed the “liberal” arts were named that because they were the domain of “free” …well, I was going to say people but probably men is more accurate. They were studied by people who didn’t have to earn a living. They came from the upper class whose “work” consisted of ruling and recreating. They got degree in history and then went to work for one of daddy’s buddies.
There’s always a JD, most of the Poli Sci majors I knew in college went to law school.
@Villago Delenda Est:
Sigh. Save those Confederate dollars, y’all. The South will rise again!
@Anoniminous: Banana Slugs!
@raven: One of my neighbors has a Slug license plate frame.
I don’t understand the hating on TED talks. A lot of them are BS, but some of them are very good. Not every TED talk is a glibertarian pep talk. I saw one given by a guy who started a grass roots organic community gardening movement in Central Los Angeles. Some of the scientific talks are very interesting.
“I don’t think there’s much advantage to being the wonk party or the reality-based party.”
I think over the long term advocating policies that work wins over voters. If the health reform works, I think we will see some results politically, and maybe DougJ will revisit the issue. For one thing, demographic trends, such as the youth vote and how the youth vote grows into the adult vote, do follow the reality that demographic groups see.
The vast majority of youth has seen very well the realities that reactionary policies (that would make Ike and Nixon, and maybe even Robert Taft, look like commies has given them, they have seen the reality of the GOP trying to take away the student vote. The demographic trends in voting have reality based causes.
@MikeJ: Not only that, but he claims he can’t back McAuliffe because he “can’t support a corporatist.” So he’s endorsing the guy who used the Attorney General’s office to help gas companies screw ordinary citizens, worked to help coal companies screw ordinary citizens, took “gifts” from companies involved in tax disputes with the state…
Sure, McAuliffe is a corporatist. But while Cuccinelli is best known as a social-conservative wingnut, he’s also an even more blatant corporatist.
Mudcat hasn’t had much use for Democrats since they rejected his “throw the rest of your base under the bus to appeal to good ol’ boys” strategy. Good riddance.
@IowaOldLady: Depends. If they teach one to think and critically evaluate sources and provide coherent, logically organized arguements for something or description of a situation, those are transferable (and often sorely lacking) skills. They’re not necessarily polytechnic style prepratory funnelling degrees, but they can be damn handy generalist ones. One critical thing is how much they teach you to think and students seem to manage to scramble out of any degree program (even tech-heavy ones) without acquiring that.
Yes and of course Condi Rice spoke three languages and was a foreign policy expert in Russian and Chinese affairs.
The thing is, so many of these people like Rummy and Cheney are fucking OLD FARTS and the world changed, very suddenly and quickly. They may have been foreign policy experts but that was the old, Cold War-era kind of expertise. By the late ’90s Clinton era, the global foreign policy landscape had completely changed but the people who had “worked their way up the ladder” were totally old-school. That’s why everything coming out of the Bush Administration in the early ‘oughts related to Iraq sounded so fucking bizarre. They were treating 9/11 like it was some kind of Russia thing.
I think the Clinton Administration really did “get it,” but the Neocon/Paleocons certainly didn’t. They were still hung up on old-school geopolitics.
That’s MY expert opinion. As a person with a degree in Environmental Science from a school no one’s ever heard of. :-)
@BillinGlendaleCA: That is so cool! Almost as much ad the Anteaters!
@scav: I loved the work I did in English, so you’ll get no argument from me. I just think students and parents need to know that college is not a magic box you enter so you’ll automatically earn big bucks. Earning big bucks is not necessarily why you get educated, though I don’t scorn anyone who wants a degree so they can’t support themselves and their family.
Enhanced Voting Techniques
I think a fitting climax to Mr Brook’s carrier will be to have the honor of being entomb alive in the Cheny Mausoleum when Dick Cheny makes his full transformation into undeath.
Let me just add on this “expertise” thing — it’s quite apropos that we live in an era when you can get a “degree” from for-profit outfits like University of Phoenix which give you college credit for your “life experience.” Talk about devaluing… Sorry but me cooking dinner every night doesn’t give me a culinary arts degree.
“A degree in English” is like “a degree in History,” the label covers a tremendous amount of territory. Remembering my class in PoliSci – LO! These many a year ago – that label covers a tremendous amount of malarkey.
That is only true if the snark is good. Better luck next time.
Emphasis added. Well, I am glad you based your opinion on so much datum.
But not just any old standard banana slug.
Ah. UCSC. How I miss thee.
@Southern Beale: To be fair to UoP (I know, I know), they require you to prove you have college-level knowledge from your experience by either taking and passing one of the College Board’s CLEP examinations or by completing an American Council on Education-approved work or military training program and sending them the transcript. Usually you can only get credit for about three or four undergrad classes this way.
This is also par for the course at many non-profit universities, particularly as the number of adult students returning to earn a new degree (or complete one they’ve not finished) rises.
Lady Who Is Editing a Course Catalog Right This Minute
@IowaOldLady: It’s that split role of Universities, both of which are important. My focus of annoyance is more the degree fetishism: degree in X means competence in X and ticket to only more of X and don’t expect to be hired anywhere near X without it.
Villago Delenda Est
It’s helpful to recall that before 9/11 happened, the Bushies were desperately trying to start a new cold war with China, since those damn Soviets ruined everything by disbanding, the bastards. Remember all the talk of the “peace dividend” that would windfall on all of us with the fall of the Berlin Wall? That caused guys like Cheney and von Rumsfailed to fucking panic.
When 9/11 happened, the first thing that crossed the Dark Lord’s mind was “the MIC is saved, we’ve got a new enemy to go up against, Iraq” which SOMEHOW was tied into the 9/11 attacks, find me a link, I don’t care if you have to waterboard Tom Clancy to get it, just find it.
@Anoniminous: That is one tough banana slug. I will be polite and courteous next time I see one of them in the woods.
Villago Delenda Est
OT, but geeze…
Fuckin’ Newsmax: link to the “Truth about Electronic Cigarettes” is actually an “news piece” that is in reality an ad for…you guessed it, an electronic cigarette pusher.
Enhanced Voting Techniques
@Villago Delenda Est:
and the whole wailing and gnashing of teeth over the “end of history” and how awful it was the US had no enemies to challenge it.
@Enhanced Voting Techniques:
I remember that as being mostly triumphalist crap about how we had won history and everyone was going to become just like us forever. Just as divorced from reality, but at least positive about it rather than negative.
@bemused: Because problems / challenges like poverty, disease, trade issues and global warming ARE REAL and since one party denies objective reality, we need the other to OVER-compensate before everybody dies. Take climate change, the other guys are convinced GOD will save them but you see, the earth – will be fine at least until the sun supernovas – humanity though, we’re sitting ducks and I’m not content to wait for the FSM to …well whatever they think he’s going to do. I want solutions baby and that’s why I vote Dem. Besides, the GOP doesn’t actually care about America – the party has decided that we should take a wrecking ball to things that benefit the public so Paris can buy another Prada bag. What BS. The GOP is an enemy to America’s continued well-being and I refuse to let a bunch of fundamentalist morons win.
Gin & Tonic
@Omnes Omnibus: I am glad you based your opinion on so much datum
Ouch. But, in fairness, “class” could have meant an entire semester, not just one session.
Living in California, I can tell you one party rule is no picnic. What’s going on nationally has already happened in my home state-the Republican Party took extreme stances that alienated the fastest growing groups of Californians and rather than try and moderate their position, they took advantage of structural flaws in the system to hold onto power. However, because of their unpopularity, even this is fading away.
This doesn’t mean we are the bastion of liberal policies that so many people think we are. Special interests, like prisons and big oil, have a huge control over how spending is done. Our schools are still in disrepair and the only way we prevented massive cuts to higher ed was by Jerry Brown putting a gun to the UC system’s head and telling the voters he’d pull the trigger if they didn’t vote for Prop 30 in 2012.
As partisan as I am a Democrat, I do want a sane Republican Party. Not for the Broder-esque “both sides have good ideas” reason but because politicians need to know they can loose office. In a one-party state, elected leaders know they won’t be thrown out in the next election they will represent special interests, not their voters. If Democrats know all they have to say is “if you vote for the other guy, you’re voting for an insane man” to win, they will cozy up to big money much more easily. I know no one on this board can work to make the GOP a reasonable party-only the rank-and-file can do that. The sooner they do this, however, the better…
Yes, exactly. They had absolutely zero idea how to deal with al-Qaeda, because in their Cold War anchored worldview, that sort of threat – asymmetrical, stateless, based on a non-national identity, and worst of all, rooted in the countries and the ideologies that we thought of as our allies – shouldn’t even exist.
So instead they came up with this Saturday morning cartoon “axis of evil” that did fit the script – terrorism is state-sponsored and you can get rid of it by going after the states that sponsor it, the good guys in the Middle East are our friends the Saudis and the bad guys are those scary Shi’ites and secularists to their north – so that they could fight the enemy they wish had attacked us on 9/11 rather than the one that actually attacked us.
I read General Zinni (Marine, Vietnam veteran, former head of CENTCOM and Middle East envoy, and Iraq war critic) and his assessment of the Clinton administration that he served under agrees with you – they didn’t get everything right, but they basically understood how the world had changed and was playing by new rules.
ETA: edited to delete that last paragraph because VDE got there first.
I agree with this completely, actually. That was the niche liberal/moderate Republicans carved out for themselves in a lot of the Northeast during the 20th century – the people you could vote for when the Democrats got too corrupt or apathetic, and still trust that they weren’t going to take advantage of that to try and privatize half the government by the end of the term. The archetype is LaGuardia in 1930s New York, a New Deal Republican who crusaded against Tammany Hall – and that was far from being the only FUBAR Democratic machine of its kind.
Unfortunately… that was then. I see a grand total of zero Republicans to step into LaGuardia’s shoes, or even Rockefeller’s, in this day and age. And I’m wary of people who’re looking too hard for one, because the media has set the bar so low for what constitutes a “moderate,” “reasonable” Republican – Chris Christie is the current poster boy, FFS, and it was John McCain before him – that it’s basically become meaningless. The Republican Party has a lot to prove before I would even entertain voting for them again.
Well put. I’d be happy to see the party of Pete McCloskey return, but sadly the California Republican money machine is wholly behind the winger brigade and what’s more, the wacko part of the party that gave us Reagan has alway had at least one hand on the reins. Now they have all the reins as well as the goat, so we get Darrell Issa and Tom McClintock and Tim Donnelly Proposition 8 and Sean Hannity standing in a rich farmer’s field yelling about Delta smelt and “manmade” droughts and the Hoover Institute and….
In NYC proper, M. Bloomberg fits that role. (Some may disagree.) On the state or national stage, agreed.
@Bill Arnold: Bloomberg left the Republican Party (officially, anyway). In 2003, California elected Schwarzenegger, who was more moderate than the national party. However, both of those elections were flukes and in today’s environment both of them would not stand a chance in a Republican Primary.
My point was even if we get to a point where the Democrats dominate nationally (which I think is very possible) that won’t ensure liberal policies. As I stated before, it would be insane to trust Republicans with anything. Therefore, if you’re an elected Dem, you know you can piss your base off and get away with it because they have no where else to go.
One thing I don’t think gets brought up enough is how much the collapse of organized labor has moved our politics rightward. When unions were a major political force, Democrats knew they have to stay loyal and Republicans knew they have to appease them. For all their sins, labor pushed for economic equality and social mobility better than any group before or since. In their current form, labor cannot bring about serious political change. If we want a return to liberalism, we have to revive labor or find its replacement. Otherwise, big money will continue to dominate, regardless of party…
@Punchy: Can I ship you all the Internetz for the next 14 days? Because you have won. All I need is your bank account number so I can , you know, route the packets.
The Raven on the Hill
I think you have to make the policy case. The Democrats haven’t done that in 30 years. People know they are miserable, but they don’t know why (except the Tea Party, aka John Birch Society II tells the far right, and they believe.) Of course people don’t vote on policy! The case for policy has to be made.
Also, it is just over 75 after after the publication of Keynes General Theory, more-or-less 50 years after Jay Forrester’s application of difference equations to social science. Economic and social policies which work are a new thing in history, and it is going to take a long time before we have learned how best to make them.