7.7.18

AFTER YOU HAVE ELIMINATED THE IMPOSSIBLE.

Political life in the United States has been frustrating enough, with conflicting views of What Is To Be Done hinging excessively on the Presidency.  I've griped about this before.  "Trade unites, politics divides, and political division is in the saddle."  And read this to put "The overwhelming growth of government would…for the reasons explained in the above two links…tend toward creating social toxicity even if the President were a thoughtful individual who genuinely wished to foster a climate of mutual respect. With a leader such as our current President, a man who encourages demonization and regularly engages in demagogy, the process is much more rapid" in context. Be advised, that quote comes from a 2013 post.

"Thoughtful individual."  Business as usual gave voters Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump the nominations of the major parties.  I doubt that either of them got high marks in kindergarten for playing well as others.  This summer, though, the retirement of one Justice of the United States becomes occasion for adding a Cult of Balance to the Cult of the Presidency, and the confirmation of a new justice becomes occasion for one, or a few, senators to exercise disproportionate power by breaking with their putative party.

If this be the workings of median voter politics, that median is antifragile.  I wonder if an observation I made about urban structure generalizes.  Try it:  "To the extent that [governance structures] are themselves emergent, rather than the fruits of Intelligent Design by Wise Experts, their chances are better."  That might be the ultimate advantage of enumerated, limited, and divided powers in governance.  Is that what Our Political Masters will give us?

Probably not.  Here's how former labor secretary and longtime Berkeley public intellectual Robert Reich wants to inoculate the polity against future Donald Trumps.
A few Democrats are getting the message – pushing ambitious ideas like government-guaranteed full employment, single-payer health care, industry-wide collective bargaining, and a universal basic income.

We also need ways to finance these things, such as a carbon tax, a tax on Wall Street trades, and a progressive tax on wealth.

To accomplish all this we have to get big money out of politics.

Even if “Citizens United” isn’t overruled, big money’s influence can be limited with generous public financing of elections, full disclosure of the source of all campaign contributions, and a clampdown on the revolving door between business and government.
Expand the powers of government, while driving the attempts of people affected by government power to extralegal methods of exerting influence?  Good luck with that.

But Mr Reich might get some help from an unusual place, as disgruntled Traditional Republicans seek to punish what until two years ago they saw as their best vehicle for their policies by ... supporting Democrats.  There's a lot of reaction to that idea, here's a sample.
Would America be better off run by a party that is ruled by identity politics and intent on promoting racial division and class warfare? Does he think, for all of Trump’s faults, that civil political discourse is the specialty of the party of Bernie Sanders, Chuck Schumer, Nancy Pelosi, Maxine Waters, Keith Ellison, and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez? Is Trump alienating any more U.S. allies than Obama did when he largely abandoned both Israel and the Sunni Arab world, leaving them to the mercy of the Iranian dictators whom he sought to appease, enrich, and empower?

Nor will destroying the Republican party lead to its resurrection under a new Reagan. That party is never coming back in our lifetime. As Obama’s presidency showed, liberal governance leads to a vast expansion of government power, the trashing of the First Amendment, and a foreign policy that is indifferent to halting Islamist terror among other perils.Some Republicans, including many who opposed Trump’s nomination in 2016, are still uncomfortable with the president. But if they not only remain Republicans but also aim to reelect a GOP Congress and Trump himself, it is because he has mostly governed as a conservative and because giving the reins to the likes of Kamala Harris, Bernie Sanders, or Elizabeth Warren would be a greater disaster than anything that could happen under Trump.
The Trump presidency has, indeed, delivered on some things that I view favorably.

That's not to say that we can't find ways out of the look-to-Washington-first mindset that motivates Democrats and some of those dissident Republicans.  George Will, perhaps still having trouble getting his head around the phrase, "Cubs win the World Series," finds a few good things to say about former Republican William Weld.  "So, if the Libertarian Party is willing, 2020’s politics could have an ingredient recently missing from presidential politics: fun. And maybe a serious disruption of the party duopoly that increasing millions find annoying. Stranger things have happened, as a glance across Lafayette Square confirms."

The party duopoly is annoying.  The Washington focus of our politics, more so.  The more likely outcome will be emergent libertarian caucuses in city governments and state legislatures first, although, as Mr Will observes, "stranger things have happened."

No comments: