Economics and similar, for the sleep-deprived

A subtle change has been made to the comments links, so they no longer pop up. Does this in any way help with the problem about comments not appearing on permalinked posts, readers?

Update: seemingly not

Update: Oh yeah!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

On not being obliged to vote Democrat, parts four and five

Hmm, reminds me I need to get this tidied up and put it on CT to get the outraged attention of some Americans. Two short and related points, because I'm in a hurry.

4: Sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander

Empirically, as a matter of observable fact, the Democratic Party does not require very much in the way of party discipline. Things like "voting against key manifesto commitments of a very popular Democratic President" do not cost you your committee chairmanship. "Voting Republican and encouraging others to do so" (Lieberman) is not inconsistent with being allowed to caucus with the Senate Democrats and kee your seniority in doing so. And this isn't a matter of political pragmatism; plenty of Congressional Democrats voted against the reform of derivatives regulation, an issue with basically no cultural or populist relevance at all. It's simply a matter of the governing philosophy of the Democratic Party - that anything goes on the right. Party discipline and outrage is reserved for anyone who deviates to the left.

But the simple matter that the Democrats would like to say that you can have a sauce for geese that isn't a sauce for ganders, doesn't make it so. If sitting Democrat Congressmen are allowed to campaign actively against Democratic party policy, then anything goes.

5. Ineffectuality is a political issue

And this follows on from the preceding. Because the Democratic Party has no party discipline, it is extremely ineffective in getting anything done. It's a coalition of incumbent politicians and their hired consultants, united by their commitment to keeping their own extremely lucrative jobs. Which is why it's unsurprising that non-core, peripheral activities like politics aren't done very well.

But why pour any time and effort at all into an organisation that isn't fit for purpose? Nobody is suggesting that there is any real likelihood in these midterm elections that the Democrats will be pushed below a 40-Senate-seat blocking minority, so they have basically exactly as much power to achieve stasis (which is their goal) whether you vote for them or not. And "fewer, but better" is a principle that applies here, as the marginal Congressmen are for the most part the least politically useful; under Bush, the Congressional Democrats were a comparatively highly effective organisation in blocking things like Social Security reform.

So the strategy of lifting a finger and enabling this shower to keep going seems to me to be dominated by an alternative strategy of letting it dwindle to a blocking minority, and then concentrating your effort on influencing that minority's blocking. Again with the bait and switch - the sales proposition of the Democrats is that they can't achieve anything much at all in the way of useful legislation, because of the archaic and obstructionist rules of Congress, but that if the Republicans get in, they will immediately be able to force through the most radical and hostile agenda conceivable. Seriously - Congressional Democrats couldn't get their own way on the end-user exemption for swaps clearing; why on earth would one think that Republicans can ban abortion?
9 comments this item posted by the management 10/27/2010 08:54:00 AM

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