Monday, September 14, 2015

Democracy and transactions

Vox notices an old ad for George McGovern, and notes that it explains the appeal of Bernie Sanders:


Of course, the same points would equally explain Donald Trump's current popularity, although it would not be in Vox's nature to notice that. Never mind.

Lost in all the lamentations about campaign finance, "special interests," and ideological purity is this: Democracy is inherently transactional, because humans, who thus far constitute 100% of voters, are by their nature transactional. Some would say that is our great strength as a very violent species that might otherwise have killed ourselves off long ago. The more democracy you have, the more transactions you have. The United States has more democracy than anybody, given our almost unbelievable number of local, state, and national elected offices, so we have more transactions in the formation of our government. Those transactions range from the tawdry -- I'll introduce this bill if you give me or my SuperPAC a big contribution -- to the swapping of earmarks or substantive compromises in momentous legislation. Regardless, democracy as a system does not accommodate either moral or ideological "purity" because neither allow for the transactions necessary to resolve disputes within a democracy. The dreams of liberals and conservatives alike will be forever frustrated, just as the disenchanted youth who nominated George McGovern in 1972 or the rebellious conservatives who dumped Rocky for Goldwater in 1964 discovered to their horror come November. In our system, ideological purity always leads to defeat, as Lyndon Johnson and even the sainted Ronald Reagan knew very well.

None of that means that ideologues cannot change the terms of debate on some subject, but it can -- again -- only be done by transactional compromise. In Mitt Romney, the GOP had the most hawkish candidate on immigration that it is ever likely to nominate, yet a huge number of conservative voters stayed away because they did not like his religion, or his nuanced stance on healthcare, or any number of other imperfections. Will conservatives make that same mistake again?


"The Hammer" said...

Ideology? What's that?
Anyway a shout out to our own TigerHawk. He may seem like a stuffed shirt, tightly would Skull and Bones kinda guy (what is it called at Princeton I wonder?) but apparently he's a WILD MAN!
Playboy just announced their top ten party schools and the University of Iowa came in at #2! I guess being raised on sorghum and corn on the cob ain't so bad after all. And apparently those "wide-tracker" farm girls make up for their 180lbs figures with an extra dose of enthusiasm. But hey, that's ok. When you're a shitfaced 19 year old just about anything will do.
Go Iowa!

The Conservative Wahoo said...

Perfectly rendered, Tigerhawk. Perfectly.

LL said...

The Republicans who don't support Bush, are sending a message with both Carson and Trump. I understand that you're not fond of mentioning Trump on this blog, but avoiding it avoids the narrative that is currently in play. First Trump and then Carson:

Trump in word, deed, and very existence reflects the main sentiment that a good chunk of the population wants to express right now, and that sentiment is "fuck you."

Trump can sell "fuck you." He did it for years on The Apprentice, cleaned up as "You're fired." He's going for force the Mexicans to pay for a wall at the southern border? That's not a serious policy statement. That's "fuck you, amnesty proponents", and whether they realize it, admit it, or not, that's exactly what people want to hear.

They'll tell you, "He takes it to Obama and Hillary. He fights!" but what they they really mean is "Fuck you, Democrats, and fuck you, establishment Republicans."

"He can't be bought!" Fuck you, lobbyists. Fuck you, corporate interests.

"He's not a politician!" Fuck you, Washington. Fuck you, pollsters.

"He stirs things up!" Fuck you, pundits. Fuck you, media.

In the case of Carson, it's a more subtle gesture, but the message remains the same. And it's not just the Republicans. The Democrats have the same frustration with the disaster that flows from the Obama Years. It explains Hillary's meteoric descent in the polls, like a great rock from space auguring into the turf.

I know that you want to keep the discourse here civil, and I agree with that, but sometimes you simply have to recognize what's going on for what it is. And it's pervasive, it's nationwide, it's the plea of the disenfranchised in "fly over country". The political class have done it with their rapaciousness. People don't take up staves, torches and pitchforks these days, but the message couldn't be more clear if they did.

Newer Post Older Post Home