Hair-tearing

by Henry on September 27, 2010

I don’t know whether Clive Crook is deliberately trying to show us how thin the partitions are between supposedly sensible centrism and grand guignol style theater, but he’s certainly doing a damn fine job of it.

These and other compromises disappointed the left. But the message to the electoral centre was consistent: Mr Obama would have let the left have its way if he could. What he should have done – and what he ought to do from now on – is simple. Instead of blessing leftist solutions, then retreating feebly to more centrist positions under pressure, he should have identified the centrist policies the country could accept and advocated those policies. … The left will tear its hair over another surrender and the centre will note where the president’s sympathies actually lay. … Substantively, whether taxes on high-income households rise now or two years from now does not matter very much. … Symbolically, though, Mr Obama’s position speaks volumes. … Nothing short of the Scandinavian model (plus stronger unions, minus the commitment to liberal trade) will ever satisfy the Democratic left. Its role, its whole purpose, is to be betrayed. So betray it, Mr President, and start leading from the centre.

This really is a rather wonderful piece of writing in its own, quite particular way. Mr. Crook doesn’t have a theory of politics (he never bothers to provide any evidence for all those confident assertions about how centrists are vigilantly monitoring the Obama administration for the slightest hint of hippy-hugging), so much as a kind of torrid internal psychodrama that (for reasons best known to him) he has chosen to inflict upon us repeatedly in printed form and that (for reasons best known to them) the editorial team of the Financial Times has decided to pay him for. And that psychodrama is on full display here. The dithering Obama, trying to resist the siren-calls of the left and only half-succeeding. The ever-disappointed centrist voter, sadly shaking its collective head yet again as the president hesitates over whether to embrace his true love or to succumb to the allures of forbidden passion. And that frenzied maenad, the left, fated always to be betrayed, because it is only in being betrayed that she can achieve her true destiny. It’s like an opera. A very bad opera. Or perhaps one of those Greek plays in which everyone ends up killing each other after having had sex with their parents and siblings. What it doesn’t resemble – at all – is a piece of serious political thinking and writing. I’d have thought that this would be a significant problem for a political column myself – but then I’m not an editor for the Financial Times.

{ 42 comments }

1

Uncle Kvetch 09.27.10 at 8:51 pm

Is this really notable? I mean, when the Democrats suffer their inevitable drubbing in November, I fully expect the intra-Beltway party line to be that it’s Obama’s punishment for being a hare-brained collectivist Eurosocialist, and if he wants to win back the people’s favor he’d better start punching some hippies sharpish.

I agree that Crook goes at it with a certain, um…vividness that’s all his own, but content-wise, this is just bog-standard DC conventional wisdom.

2

Keith 09.27.10 at 9:11 pm

But does he mention bipartisanship? I hear it’s all about being bipartisan nowadays. That’s where the real solution lies.

3

P O'Neill 09.27.10 at 9:38 pm

Incidentally, a certain newspaper on that hated Scandinavian model

We’ve been waiting to write this for about, oh, 70 years, but here goes: It’s time the world started imitating the Scandinavian—or at least the Swedish—economic model.

4

Oliver 09.27.10 at 9:42 pm

Is that in any way surprising? It is just standard tactics: Pick battles you are likely to win.

5

Anderson 09.28.10 at 1:03 am

Crook’s article is an acute analysis of the political situation in a parallel universe in which Obama “would have let the left have its way if he could.”

This is the (meta)physics breakthrough of ALL TIME, and here Henry is carping about how this “Clive Crook” (plainly not even a name found in our universe) is wrong about OUR universe. Well of course he is!

Now, let’s try to figure out how Crook’s columns are manifesting themselves in our universe, and see whether we can reverse the effect to send Sarah Palin into the alternate universe. And don’t lecture me on the ethics of that.

6

Lee A. Arnold 09.28.10 at 1:03 am

Serious political thinking?

It’s really just beginning to get interesting. Let’s look at the next real tactical fight. First, what is happening now? Where are we? Two simultaneous events: (1) The Washington Republicans have promised impossible things to their voters, based in a fatally-flawed economic “theory”, and a wild wing with voting clout called the Tea Party is demanding results of them; AT THE EXACT SAME TIME AS: (2) the progressives, by pushing for healthcare, have positioned the Washington Democrats to drive a wedge between these Republicans and their voters, in order to survive politically.

This could not be more fun!

It is time for Round 2. The Dems aren’t going to change any more minds with the current situation, although they are picking-up a little bit of traction right now, and perhaps it will save a few close House races.

But the Dems have already achieved something very significant for the time being, and they can use it: no matter how the election turns out, the country is heading into a piecemeal approach on policy, and it is going to be a dynamic process: there is an enormous Public Learning that has just begun, and even the economists and the experts can’t quite know the outcome.

We need all hands on deck.

The substantive nub is taxes vs. spending, or private initiative vs. size of government. But the discussion will be piecemeal. The Tea Party is about to find out that the spending they need to cut, in order to give tax cuts to everybody, is their own self-deserved Medicare, Defense Dept., and Social Security.

Best for our pedagogical purposes, this commencing debate won’t be a single, big-issue debate. It’s all going to be in details. It will be brought-up and discussed piecemeal, as each little policy of budget and taxes becomes a separate public discussion.

This is where we are headed. It is going to force the long-needed discussion on the real trade-offs, and it will do so properly, piece by piece. This is exactly what we (i.e. absolutely all of us) would specify that a non-ideological approach would require, from the beginning: A methodologically atomic approach to reality.

And for the discussion to continue now, it is perhaps a necessary next step, that the Republicans should take back a house of Congress (and the House in particular) to get skin in the game.

Certainly this appears to be the stance of the Independents (i.e. the middle 20% of the population), although that may be ascribing them too much political and psychological strategy. But it is very clear that the Independent swing to the Republicans is really a swing, not to the grand old brand of swill, but to gridlock swift and broad. In a nutshell? they don’t like the complexity — and at the least, they first want to check the calculations, and let the “body politic” recalibrate itself.

The Republicans are going to have to start acting on their gibberish. And they already know this will be trouble. Last Sunday talk show, here is John Boehner, already backing away: “Let’s not get to the potential solutions. Let’s make sure Americans understand how big the problem is. Then we can begin to talk about possible solutions and then work ourselves into those solutions that are doable.”

Obamacare was not only doable, it was done. It covers everybody and lowers the long-term deficits by 2/3rds.

So the Democrats can sit tight, and teach the people. In particular the Democrats should always DEMAND that the Washington Republicans enact the real spending cuts to cover their long-term tax cuts — to put everything in the same Congressional bill. Then all the rest of us can talk about it, before they pass it. And watch the lightbulbs pop on. Corollary idea: start creating an official Democratic dataset of things that the Republicans have punted on.

This sort of thing is all the Democrats have to do for now, to finally get the voters to understand how everything is connected to the standard of living. A strong, active defense of the safety-net that can go on for several years.

And I guess it will take at least a few years. So everybody has to stick with the program.

I was wrong: I thought that the polling in favor of healthcare would be higher by now, but I always forget that I am following these issues much more closely than any ordinary, sane person. (I also thought the Dems would do better education on it, but perhaps they were waiting for the first parts of the reform to kick in, and it will be interesting to see if there is a bump-up in the polls after last week’s beginnings.) My basic optimism hasn’t budged: Poll after poll continues to show that when considered piecemeal, approval for Obamacare is somewhere between 55-70%. And its basic design steers it naturally toward a two-tier system, with a lower tier non-profit, like any other intelligent country. So it is going to end-up with a public option.

Perhaps it is necessary for the next period to be a period of learning by a populace that is harried and stressed about life, and bombarded by pop-phrased propaganda. Well, you could hardly respond better than with the moral discussion that is inherent in an accomplished healthcare law. A good platform for an extended and complicated debate.

The outcome will not be salutary for the Republican Party. Right now it looks like they will take back the House, but their troubles are only beginning. They’ve been selling painless tax cuts since Ronald Reagan, then blaming the Democratic Party for the resulting deficits. That game is over. Even the Sunday TV talking heads aren’t buying it. And now, their voters are electing to force themselves into learning how every little piece is connected.

The likely conclusions? (1) Government is slowly going to get bigger, because the world is getting crowded and more complicated. (2) We have to pay for it. (3) The only alternative is a piecemeal approach to better institutional design, improving services while ultimately saving costs. (4) Holy cow, that’s what the Democrats are trying to do, with Obamacare.

7

Bloix 09.28.10 at 1:07 am

This is not torrid psychodrama. It’s straightforward concern trolling. You know what’s your problem, Obama? You’re too influenced by your base. Just tell your base to go to hell and all the independents will flock to you. Heck, you might even pick up some conservatives!

Oh, and by the way, I got a bridge you might want to look at – it’s a steal.

8

Jim Rose 09.28.10 at 1:33 am

Obama is unpopular mostly because there is a recession. he is starting to get the blame because he has been in power long enough that blaming the last guy no longer washes.

Balancing the Left of his own party threatening not to vote against the independents who might switch to the republicans is a struggle.

The independents are more than large enough to swing a congressional and a presidential election. Remember that Obama’s winning margin was not that large despite being on the tail-end of an unpopular president, a massive economic crisis, and an unpopular war. McCain was truely surprised that he stayed competitive for so long in the race.

obama could lose in 2012, and his side should lose the house in 2010 and the senate by 2012. There are 24 democrats but only 12 republican senators due for re-election in 2012.

Does Obama have the political skills to get much done if the republicans control congress for the rest of his first term and his second term? That may be why he is rushing on some issues now such as health insurance.

Obama does not strike me as having the political skills of Slick Willie. Clinton’s early defeats and 12 years as a state governor trained him well in coalition building.

9

Lee A. Arnold 09.28.10 at 2:03 am

A strong, active defense of an accomplished safety-net goes as well with gridlock as with anything. Maybe a little better. It can be actually quite a strong position, when the other side can’t do the math. If life gives you lemons, make lemonade, & cetera.

10

JM 09.28.10 at 3:11 am

What an idiot. The “center” is whatever the grey heads of the political press say it is, and they’re wrong, anyway.

The Democrats are subject to the same forces of legalized bribery as the Republicans, they just tend to have a different relationship with the nation’s bribers. They are paid to disappoint their own base. It’s not a political tactic, it’s a market. Not even a black market.

11

Witt 09.28.10 at 3:18 am

Remarkably, the Obama administration has preemptively one-upped this gentleman with the legislation described in today’s New York Times.

(The article is a rather appalling hash of credulous re-statements, as when the FBI spokeswoman’s claim that “We’re not talking expanding authority” is positioned a few paragraphs away from the part where government officials anonymously drool over the prospect of asserting authority over foreign companies operating on foreign soil.)

The Electronic Frontier Foundation has issued a blunt statement condemning this trip off the deep end.

12

Salient 09.28.10 at 3:29 am

Clinton’s early defeats and 12 years as a state governor trained him well in coalition building.

…Clinton was so awesome at coalition building, the federal government only got shut down once!

13

Bloix 09.28.10 at 3:30 am

“Obama is unpopular mostly because there is a recession.”

And this administration has nothing to do with it. Obama didn’t preside over a stimulus that every decent economist said was too small, in order to be able to say that it wasn’t a trillion dollars (which they’re saying anyway). He didn’t say “this is going to be all we need” instead of saying, “this is inadequate but it’s the best we can do given Republican obstructionism.” He didn’t fail to lift a finger to help people in foreclosure while shoveling cash out the door to his advisors’ good buddies at Goldman Sachs. He didn’t fail to push a second stimulus. He didn’t post-date all the important parts of health care reform in order to keep the deficit down in the short term, so that no one would actually get health care before the election. He didn’t appoint a Republican to run the Fed and then fail to make appointments to the Board of Governors, thus ensuring that the nation’s monetary policy is run by the pain caucus. He didn’t appoint a catfood commission to make sure that cutting social security is now a Democratic Party objective.

He had nothing to do with any of that. The recession just happened and he’s just been watching it go by.

14

Gern Blanston 09.28.10 at 4:01 am

…Clinton was so awesome at coalition building, the federal government only got shut down once!

Actually, twice (once in November ’95, again just before Christmas), but point taken.

15

Salient 09.28.10 at 4:16 am

In sympathy with Bloix ~ At least he’s left us no doubt who the real masters are. I did like that thing he said, very early on, about the banksters holding a gun to his head (or the economy’s head, or whatever). It was very freeing to hear a President admit that.

16

praisegod barebones 09.28.10 at 4:27 am

No more coals to Newcastle. No more Crooks in the FT.

17

Billikin 09.28.10 at 7:35 am

Clive Crook: “Instead of blessing leftist solutions, then retreating feebly to more centrist positions under pressure, he should have identified the centrist policies the country could accept and advocated those policies. …”

Interesting difference of perception. It seemed to me that Obama did not bless anything, but proposed centrist measures (surely nothing worthy of being called a solution). And then, for no apparent reason, shifting feebly a bit to the right.

18

NomadUK 09.28.10 at 7:35 am

(1) The Washington Republicans have promised impossible things to their voters, based in a fatally-flawed economic “theory”, and a wild wing with voting clout called the Tea Party is demanding results of them; AT THE EXACT SAME TIME AS: (2) the progressives, by pushing for healthcare, have positioned the Washington Democrats to drive a wedge between these Republicans and their voters, in order to survive politically.

You really must be joking.

19

Tim Worstall 09.28.10 at 8:46 am

“Incidentally, a certain newspaper on that hated Scandinavian model”

Quite, there is a certain joy to parts of it. No national minimum wage, no inheritance tax, no wealth tax, lower than average corporate and capital taxes, higher than average consumption taxes. Services like health care are organised by counties, not nationally, there’s even the Danish going further and income taxation is largely done by the municipalities leaving the national rate at 3.76% with a top band of 15%. Again, returns to capital (specifically, interest) are more lightly taxed, having their own personal allowance about the same as the general income tax allowance.

What’s not to like?

20

Jim Rose 09.28.10 at 9:07 am

Salient,

the shutdown was from November 14 through November 19, 1995 and from December 16, 1995 to January 6, 1996. Clinton was re-elected the next year.

Clinton shows that the veto power was no bluff when deciding to cut the budget or not.

Clinton become the first Democratic incumbent since Johnson to be elected to a second term and the first Democrat since Roosevelt to be elected President more than once.

21

bad Jim 09.28.10 at 9:45 am

The deficit zombies were nowhere in evidence when the Bush tax cuts were on the table. The compulsive centrists were unanimously hawkish when the issue was invading Iraq. It’s funny how that works. There might even be a pattern there.

22

Doug T 09.28.10 at 12:54 pm

I’d say the most obvious error in the article is the assumption that there’s some Platonic political center, and Obama could have embraced it up front.

This ignores the way politics actually works in DC. No matter where Obama and the Democrats started, that position was going to be painted as left wing, and the “centrist” democratic Senators were going to pivot off it and force concessions to the right in order to prove that they’re centrist. It was impossible for Obama to ever come out for any “centrist” position in advance, because that position was precisely defined as “a bit to the right of what Obama wants.”

23

Norwegian Guy 09.28.10 at 1:26 pm

Nothing short of the Scandinavian model (plus stronger unions, minus the commitment to liberal trade) will ever satisfy the Democratic left.

Though this sounds fine to me, I have to wonder why Clive Crook added stronger unions. It’s not that we couldn’t use stronger unions in Scandinavia. But are there any places where trade union membership is more widespread than in Scandinavia? As for liberal trade, as members of EEA or EU that is pretty much mandatory. But for the non-EU countries, certainly not for agricultural products.

24

Salient 09.28.10 at 2:33 pm

the shutdown was from November 14 through November 19, 1995 and from December 16, 1995 to January 6, 1996.

Ach, true, I forgot. Clinton presided over two shutdowns of the federal government.

I guess I should point out that I’m trying to put the lie to the idea of plausible “coalition building” in the post-Gingrich era. We’re living in Newt’s shadow now, and if anything, it has grown longer with time, not shorter; hard-line opposition from the Republican party is the new norm.

Clinton shows that the veto power was no bluff when deciding to cut the budget or not.

When most people talk about “reaching across the aisle,” I don’t think they mean with a right hook. :)

Of course, it probably sounds like I’m slagging Clinton, when actually I think this is a structural problem in any federal government whose basic functionality is predicated on supermajority cooperation with the opposition party or coalition. It’s worth remembering, over and over and over again, that if the Senate had an actual 51-vote requirement to pass legislation, we’d have seen, oh… union support with card check, a climate change / energy bill with cap and trade, something much closer to single-payer health care for all (with much quicker implementation!), a stimulus strong enough to actually pull upward on demand, a more liberal (and fully staffed) Federal Reserve Board, the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, and other lower-priority stuff like a strong net neutrality bill (in part because there’d be enough time to bring lower-priority stuff to the floor). Plus the federal government’s upper tiers would be fully staffed with appointments that are currently on hold. Plus, probably, all the stuff that actually did pass. And I’m probably forgetting important stuff.

And ok, at this time in a parallel filibuster-free universe, we might be talking about what else the Democratic party ought to tackle or have tackled. Sure. We might be railing against them for their patently horrible continuation of deeply flawed and profoundly immoral national security policy. Sure. But there’d be considerable energy and excitement among left-ish folks over the achievements of the administration, and a great deal more contentment.

25

Salient 09.28.10 at 2:38 pm

Clinton become the first Democratic incumbent since Johnson to be elected to a second term and the first Democrat since Roosevelt to be elected President more than once.

Eh, a sample size of… four? Let’s review:

Truman wasn’t elected a second time because
[a] the 22nd Amendment was ratified, making him only eligible if he were willing to exploit a special grandfather clause in that amendment rather than honor its intent
[b] he chose not to run

Kennedy wasn’t elected to a second term because
[a] he was shot dead
[b] …

Johnson wasn’t re-elected because:
[a] he stood pat on civil rights, angering southern bigots
[b] he escalated Vietnam, angering the DFHs
[c] he chose not to run

Carter wasn’t re-elected because:
[a] he inherited stagflation
[b] oil shocks
[c] something something Iran something something hostages

So ok, spotting you Carter… what was the point, again?

26

mds 09.28.10 at 3:40 pm

The Tea Party is about to find out that the spending they need to cut, in order to give tax cuts to everybody, is their own self-deserved Medicare, Defense Dept., and Social Security.

They’ve never found out before that the economic plans of their masters actually increase deficits, so why would they find it out now? We’re talking about people who think that Reagan massively shrank federal spending, and that their own federal income taxes have steadily increased even as they’ve fallen to historically-low levels.

27

Jim Rose 09.28.10 at 8:35 pm

Salient,

Truman and Johnson did not run because they did not think they could win.

Truman’s popularity was plummeting, As he entered 1952, polls showed that he had a 66% disapproval rating, a record only surpassed decades later by Richard Nixon.

In the New Hampshire primary, Kefauver upset Truman, winning 19,800 votes to Truman’s 15,927. Truman soon announced that he would not seek reelection.

Despite the growing opposition to Johnson’s policies in Vietnam, it appeared no prominent Democratic candidate was prepared to run against a sitting President of his own party. this quickly changed.

On March 12, McCarthy won 42% of the New hampshire primary vote to Johnson’s 49%. Senator Kennedy announced his candidacy four days later, on 16 March 1968. On 31 March 1968, Johnson withdrew from the race.

28

Anderson 09.28.10 at 10:54 pm

Bloix’s points don’t prove much about Obama.

They do prove a great deal about the Democrats in Congress, which is to say, the Democratic Party.

Obama could not have gotten 60 votes for a decent-sized stimulus. He couldn’t get the votes to abolish or limit the filibuster. Etc. Much of what he’s blamed for is really down to the Democrats in general.

Who of course will blame Obama, not themselves, for the votes in November.

(N.b. I am not an Obama apologist. On matters within his discretion, like the aftermath of our adventures with torture, he’s continued and defended some inexcusable stuff. But let’s stay clear on what is what.)

29

Jim Rose 09.28.10 at 11:15 pm

The veto power is what gives Obama influence over congress. As Obama slowly loses both houses to the republicans, he will have to learn how to weld the veto well.

negotiation is about one party having some control over something another wants and is willing to offer something of value in return to get it.

The republicans will not want to have too many shutdowns because this makes them look like the wreckers in 2012.

The republicans will not be able to override many vetos so they will have troube doing what they want unless they can attach their agenda as riders to bills that Obama is less williing to veto.

p.s. given the tendency for the republicans to control congress and the senate in particular in recent decades, and likely to be so again by 2012, Salient’s idea about ending filibusters would be a very good idea because the republicans could more easily repeal the democratic party’s anti-productivity, anti-economic growth and pro-rent-seeking agenda of recent years. The democrats as a permanent and impotent minority could appeal to some. I prefer divided governments because a divided government is a weaker government.

p.p.s. do any of the proposals listed by salient that might pass but for a filibuster speed the recovery from the recession or make a republican victory in 2010 and 2012 less likely?

30

Bloix 09.28.10 at 11:48 pm

Anderson- yes, it was Congress who decided that what the country really needed was a Republican to head the Fed and a couple of Wall Street loyalists at Treasury and the NEC. It was Congress that said that the stimulus would be enough when it was clear that it wouldn’t be enough. It was Congress that didn’t make a public issue out of bankruptcy reform for foreclosures or support for the public option. It was Congress that created the catfood commission and put Alan Simpson on it.

Look, I understand that Harry Reid is not Mr. Profile In Courage and I get that the Senate Republicans have outmaneuvered and out-politicked the Democrats until they think they aren’t allowed to shit in a pot if Jim DeMint tells them to hold it.

That’s not the point. Obama was supposed to lead. That means do what you can, and where you can’t, you draw sharp lines between us and them so the country can see where you want to take it and how to get there.

Instead, Obama decided that boy genius Rahm Emmanuel was on to something: buy off Wall Street and Big Pharma, put them together with High Tech and Hollywood, and we’ll have a money coalition that will last for a generation! So they sold the country to the banksters and the drugsters and they’re just noticing that they’re not going to be collect on the debt.

To top it all off, Obama decided he never wanted to look like a loser. So if he couldn’t have something he’d pretend he didn’t want it. That way, he’d always be a winner! You see how that worked out.

31

Salient 09.29.10 at 12:14 am

negotiation is about one party having some control over something another wants

Yes, that’s somewhat my point. There’s not much sense attempting to negotiate with someone who wants the opposite of what you want. To the last, the current crop of Republican Senators^1^ have shown they want to: win their seats, keep their seats, keep their committee appointments, keep the masters of the universe happy, transfer wealth upwards where possible, and protect the wealth of the ownership class — many of them want this because they have a cushy position on a corporate board waiting for them upon retirement, which also applies to plenty of the more “conservative” Democrats. (I put “conservative” in quotes because something like “oligarchical” is considerably more accurate.) No negotiation is likely to be possible with these folks, much less fruitful.

do any of the proposals listed by Salient that might pass but for a filibuster speed the recovery from the recession or make a republican victory in 2010 and 2012 less likely?

…blink…

Oh, I get it.

Honestly, it’s okay that you’re a Republican. Such is life. But to assume that Democratic base voters wouldn’t feel energized by what I outlined above, and turn out in much larger numbers than are currently projected to elect and re-elect Democrats, then you’re either crazy or (more likely) you’re being intentionally disingenuous. That’s concern trolling, and it just makes you look bad.

Oh, and of course, we disagree about the likely effect of additional stimulus. But hey, we agree that the [in my eyes tiny, in your eyes huge] stimulus that actually passed, was bad policy [because it wasn’t enough / because more than zero is too much].

The democrats as a permanent and impotent minority could appeal to some.

Wow. We’re too civil here to respond to that, I think.

^1^Considerably less true for many Republican House Reps.

32

Jim Rose 09.29.10 at 1:28 am

Salient,

Reagan and Clinton were skilled enough to be rather successful at getting what they want despite a lack of a congressional majority.

Ruling congressional parties of either political complexion need a 2/3rds majority in both houses if they do not play ball with the president of the opposite party. That will be Obama’s strongest card after 2010.

Your political stereotyping is rather over-done.

On ‘transfer wealth upwards where possible, and protect the wealth of the ownership class’ which party defends anti-competitive regulation and tariffs, stirs up trade wars with china, and wants cap-and-trade as a way of lining corporate pockets to the brim to buy-off their political support. The parties of the Left or of the Right?

as an example, the TARP bail-out was initially defeated in the U.S. house of representatives because it was opposed by a coalition made up of conservative free-market Republicans who considered capitalism to be profit AND loss system and liberal anti-corporate Democratswho wanted to give the money to a different set of supplicants.

In the end, enough deals to secure a majority to give the corporate rent-seekers what they wanted. Democrats voted 140 to 95 in favor of the legislation, while Republicans voted 133 to 65 against TARP.

Cinton got NAFTA through with more republican support than with votes from his own party.

As I recall, high income groups tend to support the democrats and the blue collar vote is becoming republican. This cross-over pattern is common globally with green voters, as a group, the richest bloc of voters.

also recall that I said that ‘I prefer divided governments because a divided government is a weaker government’.

BTW, do you expect the democracts to lose seats in 2010 and 2012? working with the consequences is Obama’s challenge.

33

JM 09.29.10 at 2:20 pm

Jim Rose at 09.28.10 at 11:15 pm

the republicans could more easily repeal the democratic party’s anti-productivity, anti-economic growth and pro-rent-seeking agenda of recent years

Jim Rose at 09.29.10 at 1:28 am

Your political stereotyping is rather over-done.

What a difference a day makes.

34

Salient 09.29.10 at 2:45 pm

Your political stereotyping is rather over-done.

(shrug) Sure. But why would I take the time to be nuanced with a concern troll?

which party defends regulation and tariffs

The more liberal Democrats, by and large. Umm, but that’s acting against the interest of the ownership/executive/managerial class.

More importantly for my perspective (for example): which party supported the creation of Social Security? Which party supported the creation of Medicare? I am confident you, Jim, could argue these programs somehow crowd out private industry or ‘productivity,’ whatever that is. But hey, even so, I’m perfectly happy with that, because my political goal is the establishment of universal human welfare, not the optimization of executive-class profits.

…wants cap-and-trade as a way of lining corporate pockets

That’s really, really, really, really funny. If true, it would explain why there’s such massive corporate support for cap-and-trade policies, and why I see all these corporate-funded advertisements extolling the benefits of a carbon tax on my TV. Except… the opposite is true.

Clinton got NAFTA through with more republican support than with votes from his own party.

Yes, but by now, you can probably guess what I think of NAFTA. Clinton passed oligarchical^1^ policy with the cooperation of oligarchical representatives! Whoo!

As an actual real socialist who is ten miles to the left of every Democrat in Congress, I fully support the nationalization of many industries (utilities for example), or at the very least, heavy appropriation of their profits for the public good through taxation and redistributive wealth transfer. And I frankly don’t give a damn if this results in less income for the executive class. It’s the welfare of the bottom 20% of income earners which interests me. It’s the welfare of the top 20% of income earners which interests you. You and I have, very nearly, opposite political goals: or at least, they conflict in practice.

Given that: Am I really supposed to celebrate the passage of NAFTA? I can see why you would celebrate NAFTA. But why would I?

As I recall, high income groups tend to support the democrats and the blue collar vote is becoming republican.

Nope. High income groups tend to support the democrats? … Really? … Where in the heck do you get your demographic information from?

The white Protestant evangelical and white-and-slightly-bigoted blue collar votes (with considerable overlap in those categories) have tended Republican ever since the Southern Strategy political reformation. In general, white people vote Republican over Democrat consistently at about 60%/40%. I posit that when you say “blue collar vote” you’re not envisioning, for example, black people who are also blue collar workers. I guess they don’t count, in your eyes. Maybe you just don’t see them. It’s been my experience that folks who extol the “blue collar vote” have guys who look and talk like Joe the Plumber in mind.

^1^I’m not at all happy with this word, but don’t have a good replacement. I’d normally say Clinton passed Republican policy with the cooperation of Republicans, but you’re partway right: it’s not a question of party, but of ideology.

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Bloix 09.29.10 at 4:34 pm

Clinton’s political strategy was to attack and repudiate the liberal wing of the Democratic party and to put together what he called a “centrist” coalition of what in prior years would have been called good-government Republicans. The plan was to create a moderate Democratic party that would occupy the center forever. What it did instead was to disenfranchise the liberal wing of the party and to move the left end of acceptable political debate rightward, thereby opening space for the right wing of the Republican party to move ever more to the right. You’d think that Obama would have learned from this, but what he’s learned apparently, is that Clinton’ strategy was correct and that it just needs better execution.

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Jim Rose 09.29.10 at 9:31 pm

salient,

you misquoted me because your error required the use of the deletion key:

I said “…which party defends anti-competitive regulation and tariffs …”

you edited this too “which party defends regulation and tariffs”

you edited the word anti-competetive because it would refute your whole storyline.

you seems to not want to know who gains and who loses from tariffs. the winners are import competing industries. the losers are consumers and exporters.

tariffs and anti-competetive regulation protects the working class from the scourge of lower prices.

White-collar college-educated professionals were mostly Republican until the 1950s; they now compose perhaps the most vital component of the Democratic Party.

College-educated workers make up about 15 percent of the labor force, and (since they vote in a higher proportion than any other group) about a fifth of the electorate.

Their political outlook is different from the blue-collar or minority Democrats who entered the party earlier.

These college-educated workers are products of the social and cultural revolution that began in the colleges during the 1960s. They avidly support women’s rights and civil rights and tolerance toward gays. They are fiscally moderate or conservative and socially liberal.

They retain the skepticism of big government. They worry about budget deficits and government waste and bureaucracybut have abandoned their support for unfettered capitalism.

on voter demographics see http://edition.cnn.com/ELECTION/2006/pages/results/states/US/H/00/epolls.0.html which shows an even split among the middle class and rich between the democrats and republicans. the theory of expressive voting explains this.

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Salient 09.30.10 at 12:01 am

jim rose,^1^

Heh. I suppose I should talk about ‘pro-Fascist Republican policies’ and then sneer at you about your use of the delete key when you politely quote me as referring to “Republican policies.” (Not that you would. But you could! And then you’d be civil. And then you’d be getting somewhere. Maybe.)

on voter demographics see http://edition.cnn.com/ELECTION/2006/pages/results/states/US/H/00/epolls.0.html which shows an even split among the middle class and rich between the democrats and republicans

What? No it doesn’t. It doesn’t show that at all. The higher the income, the more the folks trend Republican. For the under $15000 crowd, it splits 67%/30% for the D’s, for the over $200k crowd, it splits 45%/53% for the R’s. The Republicans take a majority of folks earning more than $100k, and the Democrats take a majority of folks earning less than $100k. It’s… really easy to see, in the numbers you cited.

Go buzz off and troll somebody else.

^1^…because apparently we can’t even be bothered to capitalize one another’s names, now? bah.

38

Jim Rose 09.30.10 at 12:57 am

Salient,

to return to topic, we should talk about obama and whose votes he wins and loses.

http://edition.cnn.com/ELECTION/2008/results/polls/#USP00p1 shows that in the 2008 election Obama won every income grouping bar $100,000 to $200,000 and $50,000 to $75,000.

Obama was a dead-heat for the $100k plus income group: 49% each.

I was right that high-income groups tend to support Obama in 2008. Obama’s best winning margin for the high income in the CNN exit poll results was for $200, 000 plus.

In the House in 2008, the Democrats were neck-and-neck for every income group above $75k losing always just by a nose.

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Salient 09.30.10 at 3:09 am

I was right that high-income groups tend to support Obama in 2008. Obama’s best winning margin for the high income in the CNN exit poll results was for $200, 000 plus.

What? The under $15000 break was 73/25 Obama. The over $200000 break — which was based on self-reported income in exit polls — was 52/46 Obama.^1^ You’re being weirdly limiting by talking about “for the high income” — why the hell would I care about the inclinations of the rich vs. the super-rich? Just as importantly, all of those numbers you’re taking to be desperately significant are well within the 4% margin of error.

Richer folks broke evenly for McCain and Obama 49/49, nonrich folks (50k/year or less) broke for Obama about 60/40.

In the House in 2008, the Democrats were neck-and-neck for every income group above $75k losing always just by a nose.

So? They also pwn’d among folks making less than $15k, who are the folks I’m most concerned about, politically speaking. It was a banner year, lots of categories swung more Democratic that normally trend Republican, apparently including the somewhat-rich. Whoo.

More broadly, I really don’t see the point you’re trying to make. Are you saying the Democrats are the party of the rich? Really? Granted, to some extent, both parties are. I lament that. But if we’re going to go ahead and differentiate by party affiliation, which party originally passed, and now wants to extend, the Bush tax cuts for rich folks? (I suppose you support those tax cuts because they stimulate “productivity,” but that’s a different issue than who-represents-whom.)

^1^Of course, I once told an exit pollster that I made $250k/year and they believed me; I have a hard time believing I was the only smarmy college freshman to have done that. Probably statistically insignificant, ok.

Off topic a bit, here’s one of those brain-teasers you can give Stats 101 students to tinker with: Obama lost the white vote, 43/55. But he won the white 18-29 vote 54/44, won the white 30-44 vote 63/36, won the white 45-64 vote 58/40, and won the white 65+ vote 68/30. See here. He also won the black vote 95/4 despite winning the black 18-29 vote only by 64/33, losing the black 30-44 vote 41/57, losing the black 45-64 vote 42/56, and losing the black 65+ vote 40/58.

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Jim Rose 09.30.10 at 3:42 am

Salient,

both parties are parties of the middle class because thats’s is where the votes are.

41

Salient 09.30.10 at 4:08 am

I try to avoid the phrase “middle class” because it doesn’t seem to mean a thing. Would not surprise me to learn 99% of Americans self-identify as middle-class.

And if anything, neither party is the party of this mythical “middle class” — after all, they keep not getting what they want (presumably) and voting for the other folks, back and forth and back and forth. They’re fickle, and far more confused than either you or I.

42

Jim Rose 09.30.10 at 4:55 am

Salient,

by and large, the voters get what they want good and hard.

People will vote for what makes them feel good without bothering to find out whether it really is good for them because the probability of any one voter changing the result of any election because of a more thougthful vote by they themselves is vanishingly small.

Each voter will vote for what makes them feel better about themselves, even if the policies go against their own interest and the interests of the economy. when it is cheap to believe something (even when it is wrong) it is rational to believe it and vote because of it.

For example, it feels a lot better to blame foreigners for our economic problems than it does to blame ourselves and poor previous choices. This creates a temptation to relax normal intellectual standards and insulate cherished beliefs from criticism.

If you underestimate the benefits of immigration, or the evidence in favour of evolution, what happens to you? usually, the same thing that would have happened if you knew the whole truth

when the economy was good, voting for obama made many voters feel good. many of these same swinging voters will switch because voting for fiscal conservatives will make them feel safer in more uncertain times.

(HT: Bryan Caplan)

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