November 21st, 2011

Growing political intransigence

The two mainstream political parties in America have grown more bitter and more extreme.

Oh, I know there have been even more divisive times in American history. After all, I hear tell there was a Civil War a while back. But in my lifetime at least, the parties have morphed from two groups with somewhat differing opinions who seemed to be able to work together at times to two groups who cannot do so any more.

Case in point: the not-so-super-committee and the debt crisis. There is a crisis, no party has total control, therefore some sort of compromise is required, and we don’t have one.

This is the way it’s been for some time.

I bet quite a few of you are saying “Good! To tyrants I will give no quarter!” And indeed, there’s something to be said for a federal government that must move slowly and ponderously. But sometimes government needs to act, and then paralysis and intransigence is not good, and the ability to “come, let us reason together” would be helpful.

What’s going on? I’m not sure, but to the best of my recollection it was some time during the mid-90s that things became more polarized. The impeachment of Clinton did not help, nor did the rabid nature of the opposition to President Bush in the wake of 9/11 and the Iraq War. The internet may be part of it, escalating matters.

Another factor is that, as Congressional districts have been re-drawn to make them safer for one party or another, candidates have not been required to appeal to the middle, and the makeup of Congress has become more extreme on each side. I also read somewhere (can’t find the source right now; sorry) that the growth of airplane commuting has meant that fewer members of Congress regularly live and socialize in Washington DC, and therefore they don’t get to know each other better and can remain sworn enemies.

But part of it is that the public is angrier and less tolerant of compromise and more demanding of perfection. I’ve seen this even within each party. In fact, Jonathan Chait—a man with whom I don’t usually agree—wrote about this yesterday in relation to liberal Democrats’ anger at Obama. But I see a similar thing operating among Republicans; just switch the parties (and eliminate the example of Obama) in the following quote, and it would serve pretty well for the other side (except for the “dancing-in-the-streets-delirious” part; that’s not a Republican tendency):

Here is my explanation: Liberals are dissatisfied with Obama because liberals, on the whole, are incapable of feeling satisfied with a Democratic president. They can be happy with the idea of a Democratic president—indeed, dancing-in-the-streets delirious—but not with the real thing. The various theories of disconsolate liberals all suffer from a failure to compare Obama with any plausible baseline. Instead they compare Obama with an imaginary president—either an imaginary Obama or a fantasy version of a past president.

It seems as though nearly everybody has morphed into Peter Finch’s character in “Network.” He used to seem extreme, but now he’s run-of-the-mill:

49 Responses to “Growing political intransigence”

  1. Curtis Says:

    These are my demands. And if you don’t meet them, you aren’t American.

    I want:

    free housing
    free education
    a guaranteed job that pays at least $20/hour
    free healthcare
    green energy
    nutritious food
    help for all the people of the world too.

    Make it happen because I demand it.

    Intransigence? How yielding is one supposed to be against stupidity?

  2. gcotharn Says:

    Curtis asked: “How yielding is one supposed to be against stupidity?”

    Just so. How long must we pretend the left’s interpretation of Keynesianism might work? that socialism/communism might work? History has proven, again and again, that Keynesianism does not work; that socialism and communism do not work. Must we try Keynesianism again? Socialism and communism again? Must we go halfway towards Keynesianism, socialism, communism? No, and no. No. No. No. No. No. Read my lips: no.

    The intransigence, of this historic moment, is a feature, not a bug.

  3. Commenter formerly know as roc scssrs Says:

    Some theories of mine:

    Too many people go to college, and get used to thinking of themselves as moral arbiters for the whole human race; consequently, they’re all the time outraged.

    Politics is no longer as local. People have looser ties to the place they live in. It’s easier to occupy Wall Street than serve on a zoning commission or school board: if you want to actually get anything done there, you have to get along with your neighbors.

    In the current situation: Congress will always have disagreements– it’s up to the President to move the country in the right direction. But Obama wants to be a transformational figure; he doesn’t want to do anything as mundane as balance a budget.

  4. neo-neocon Says:

    gcotharn: did you read the Samuelson article?

  5. gcotharn Says:

    Okay, I just read Samuelson’s article. Having read it, I do not understand your point in asking if I have read Samuelson’s article.

    Samuelson’s point: Super Committee Repubs (appear to have) offered new taxes; Dems refuse to offer entitlement cuts.

    My point: Repub Senators refusal to compromise, regarding the need for government spending to be reduced, is a feature. Dem Senators will not agree to ANY specific reduction which approaches what Harry Reid has already promised. When the right refuses to pretend the left’s version of Keynesianism might work: that is a feature. Refusing to go halfway – towards a Keynesianism which cannot and will not work – is a feature. Intransigence from the right is necessary. We must no longer pretend that Keynesian theoretical fantasy might be reality.

    Am I missing something about your point?

  6. Don Carlos Says:

    “Come let us reason together” was said by what modern politician in what context?

  7. physicsguy Says:

    Neo, I have to agree with the tenor of the above comments. Which side is really being intransigent?

    One small case in point: I go to work (academia). I am a careeer professional scientist. I am called by my co-workers (mainly in the humanities and social studies) to be an ANTI-science “denier” because I don’t toe the party line on global warming. Arguing with these people on the basis of evidence, mathematical construction, and basic physics doesn’t work. They just keep saying that I must not be a REAL scientist.

    And you wonder why I refuse to accept compromise with such people???

  8. DirtyJobsGuy Says:

    Intransigence usually means that some kind of fundamental difference exists or that too many rice bowls will be upset to do much. In the past few years, it was more the latter as every congressman had his own pet projects, earmarks and perks. Even the GWOT was not all that intransigent as we can see from Obama’s spendthrift ways with drones.

    Now the great debt crisis has turned this into a stalemate on fundamental positions. It looks more like the Buchanan administration with both sides dancing around a painful but necessary change. The Democrats then could not survive as supporters/apologists for slavery and cannot survive today as looters of the public treasury.

    The Republicans challenge then was to affect the change and restore us to domestic tranquility without slavery. It took over 100 years! To manage the change from even our mild social democracy will take at least 30 years. T

  9. expat Says:

    I think the social issues are a factor too. The fringes used them to divide groups into good and evil, informed and ignorant. After a while people get tired of being called names and want to fight back through their representatives.

    Commenter is also right about politics not being local anymore. The self segregation gives us little opportunity to experience decent people who have different viewpoints. Even cable TV segregates. The days when everone watched Ed Sullivan or Jack Paar are long gone, and today’s media people don’t have to worry about viewers from the broad population if they don’t want to. They can rant when they want and elevate braindead sports commentators to political pundits.

  10. Occam's Beard Says:

    Physicsguy, I’ve gotten the same thing re AGW: I must be anti-science, forty years in chemistry notwithstanding. Especially exasperating coming from someone whose entire knowledge of science is based upon watching segments of Nova.

  11. Curtis Says:

    It’s right and proper to bring the observation that politics has become bitter. Let us defend our conduct, behavior, tone and, if the right word is intransigence, then intransigence.

    Can anyone point out the conservative equivalent of liberal narratives?

    For instance, is there an opposite to the “spitting” incident on Capital Hill? Have Republican congressmen deliberately lied to create media incidents? Is there, in other words, a policy and practice of disregard for the truth? An ends justifies the means policy?

    Do conservatives mangle fact, indoctrinate children, and allow money to corrupt politics? And as for the last, if there has been money corruption, where is it larger and more brazen? It was accepted that big business was Republican and big business was corrupt, but is big business Republican any longer? No. At least when the corruption was Republican, it was contained and minimized because the conservative peoples at large, if they knew about it, would not stand for it. Is the same to be said for the liberal peoples at large? Are do they even know any better? Do they even care about the GM bankruptcy and its subversion of law and rewarding of union political backers and contributors? No, they don’t. It very much appears there is no equivalency between liberal and conservative peoples when it comes to holding their own people to a rule of law. Just get in line to get what other people own and make. No plan for the future, indeed, screw the future. Just give me mine, now.

    Hence the bitterness, hence the anger, hence the intransigence, but not hence the same tone and moral authority. Conservatives do not deserve to be addressed as maddened, spitting, irrational players.

  12. Occam's Beard Says:

    Compromise requires basic shared values, which do not obtain between left and right today in America. Conservatives believe in markets, in traditional families, in clearly delineated notions of right and wrong, in capitalism, in fiscal probity, in the fundamental goodness of America, and in American exceptionalism. All of these things are anathema to leftists, who are driving the Dem bus now, and therefore no compromise, apart from a superficial cosmetic one, is possible.

  13. GoneWithTheWind Says:

    Compromise is not always wise. The Democrats have numerous times in the past “compromised” with Republicans and passed a spending cut and tax increase deal. But after the ink dried the tax cuts never happened while the tax increases did indeed happen. Today we have a spending problem. The government spends too much. Giving them more money will allow/make them spend more not less. We have over 200 years of history that proves this point. We MUST cut spending. How would another compromise that increases taxes and cuts spending solve our problem??? Cut spending! It’s that easy.

  14. Alex Says:

    The responses to this post are highly ironic. If only the irony were intentional…

  15. Don Carlos Says:

    To answer my own (rhetorical) question above, since no one has, and Neo seems to suggest that we need “Come, let us reason together” again:

    It was LBJ.

    “Johnson’s goal as president was to achieve consensus—to occupy that common ground on which the general citizenry and Congress alike could stand with him. One of his favorite sayings, “Come, let us reason together,” became a rallying call to his banner.”–from presidentprofiles.com

    That didn’t work out so well for us then. It will not work for us now. The stakes are much higher, and our chips are few.

  16. Occam's Beard Says:

    The responses to this post are highly ironic. If only the irony were intentional…

    Sure, let’s compromise with the Dems. Let’s split the difference, and only half bankrupt America.

  17. Parker Says:

    The whole debt ‘debate’ is an idiotic charade. At best DC is aiming at 1.2 to 1.5 trillion in cuts over 10 years. The annual deficits have been in the range of 1.3 to 1.5 trillion for the last 3 years. Starting from that baseline they are talking about annual deficits of around 1+ trillion. Piling up an additional 10 trillion in debt to add to the current 15 trillion equals a 25 trillion debt burden in ten short years. A second grader could do the math.

    Anyone who believes this is sustainable isn’t thinking. Anyone who believes we can grow our way out of this dilemma isn’t thinking. Anyone who believes we can tax our way out of this dire problem isn’t thinking. Anyone who believes the democrats are serious about reducing the debt isn’t thinking.

  18. Curtis Says:

    Your meme is a good one, Don Carlos. It shows not only the conservative position but how the liberals pervert goodly intentions.

    Come let us reason together was a call to repentance because Israel had disgusted God, who referencing the contract Israel had orally agreed to, stated the case against them for breaching it. All law which regulates our society comes hence.

    Here is pure beauty of a God who cares: Instead of using power, He used reason, and, ultimately, in the heavenly Court, restricts His judgment to the reason understandable by us. Physicists have stated there are 10 dimension or more in the Big Bang, and we only live in four of them. Wow. And to be given free will under such limited circumstances and understanding is reason for gratitude and repentance.

  19. Mike Mc Says:

    I want no compromise with the Dems. Not on anything. Not ever. They are no good. Anything at all that they would want would harm the country. Anything. No exceptions.

    Let’s wait until 2012. This is America’s decision, not these horrible Dem congress people. If America wants them back, they can have everything they want next year. If they do not, then I want them involved in nothing at all. Nothing. These people disgust me and I hardly even consider them to be American at this point.

    After next year, either they are not American or I am not. The two sides are not in disagreement. We are so at odds that it is one or the other and not both and not anything from their side at all.

  20. Occam's Beard Says:

    Compromise in and of itself isn’t necessarily a virtue; it’s only a virtue when the compromise can be reached without abrogating one’s core values.

    Otherwise, compromise constitutes complicity. No compromise is possible with NAMBLA; there is no “middle position” on pederasty that is morally acceptable.

    Even when compromise is possible, the other side must negotiate in good faith. The weak-minded strategy of simply splitting the difference rewards those who stake out an extreme position at the expense of those being more reasonable. In such cases, intransigence is imperative until the counterparty adopts a reasonable position.

  21. M J R Says:

    (From the “Peanuts” comic stip:) It’s Lucy, Charlie Brown, and the football.

    At some point, it’s “fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.”

    Both Bush 41 and Reagan agreed to raise taxes in exchange for cuts in spending, Bush 41 even going so far as to go back on his “read my lips” pledge.

    Well, we got the raise in taxes, all right.

    (Never mind that a cut in spending, in Washingtonese, translates into “we were gonna increase this budget item by 10 percent, but we’ll instead increase it by only 7 percent — so it’s a 3 percent cut.”)

    Why in blazes is it a wonder when some of us just plain don’t wanna play football any more?

  22. Don Carlos Says:

    The votes to Neo’s essay are coming in, and there seems very little agreement with her thesis. Moral hazard is at the heart of the matter, in matters financial and bureaucratic, and in foreign affairs.

    In the current Claremont Review, Codevilla points out that only 45.6% of working-age Americans are working. A moral hazard tipping point has been passed.

  23. Don Says:

    I could approach this argument in several ways, but this is one way to look at it:

    Bush was a moderate who worked with the Dems. He passed Ted Kennedy’s “No Child” and his Medicare Part D plan, a $400B compromise to the Dems $800B-$900B plan. On the flip side, Dems met Bush half way by opposing social security reform and turning on the Iraq War in midstream.

    The Dems refused any meaningful compromise with a moderate Repub. But the Bush compromises were really just a slower form of death then the full bore Dem plan.

    There is simply no compromise plan that will fix our problems. None.

    This is obvious when considering that the Dems have been holding up any budget for years now.

  24. kolnai Says:

    Occam’s Beard -

    Emphatically “yes” to what you said.

    Compromise requires a basic set of shared values, and for better or worse that does not exist anymore between the left and right in this country.

    One of the first things poly sci students study in their parties classes is the (in)famous APSA Report from 1950, “Toward a More Responsible Two-Party System.” This was the latest expression by a veritable politburo of political scientists of the classic progressive wisdom that democracy requires parliamentary party discipline – i.e., “polarization” – to function as a truly representative system.

    The Report is a joke, and subsequently some people involved with it came out and ripped it to shreds, most notably Evron M. Kirkpatrick.* As with most disasters in contemporary American politics, this “polarization” we lament today is yet another case of progressives getting what they asked for.

    Once the break with the Constitution was completed on the left – and this was the fundamental mission of progressives since Wilson – the stage was set for the dissolution of shared values that OB noted.

    Only at that point do the psychological factors such as confirmation bias, the backfire effect, the illusion of asymmetric insight, and so forth, come into play as catalyzers. People like to jump on the internet for amplifying these factors, but there would be no political predicate for them in the first place has not polarization already proceeded apace. Such adverse effects – if they are adverse – are precisely effects, not causes. The first cause, as Richard Weaver understood so well, is ideas:

    Ideas have consequences.

    *This paper is such a fun and lacerating read, I’ll link to it for anyone who’s interested:

    http://www.apsanet.org/~pop/APSA1950/Kirkpatrick1971.pdf

  25. chuck Says:

    I think the Left feels robbed. They were supposed to inherit the future, and the future is already the past. What I don’t relate to is the profound emotional attachment many seem to feel for those ideas. Idea doesn’t pan out, try something else, it’s not a big deal. Or so it seems to me.

    As to the current bru-ha-ha on the right, some of us have the sense that we are in a perilous way and so the choice of leader is important. I just wish we had better choices. I distrust Mitt myself, not because of his flip-flops, but because I don’t trust the sincerity of his conversion. I think he would happily lie to me while pursuing the good as he sees it. For instance, I don’t think that he is opposed to Obama care, but it poses a political problem for him. So he proposes to issue waivers to the states. Which to my mind is simply a delaying tactic and an attempt to sidetrack opposition, with the longer term goal of keeping the program, perhaps with some modifications. I have much the same sense about Romney as I did about Obama: I don’t know what really matters to the man.

  26. Mike Mc Says:

    No Retreat, No Surrender, No Compromise with these people.

    From now until election day I am going to 1) Pray, 2) Call my Congress people regularly and tell them to do nothing unless it is to oppose, 3) Contribute to tea Party candidates and/or attend any Tea Party functions in my area. I’ve been to one; small but I was there.

    In the 2010 elections I contributed for the first time in my life to several candidates. I am going to do the same in the run-up to 2012. It cannot be that we lose this thing by not fighting. We have to talk, and we can’t be afraid of what liberals think or say. We should always put them on the defensive and the best way to do that is to constantly challenge them and put forth new ideas and never stop to give them a breather.

  27. Curtis Says:

    “In the current Claremont Review, Codevilla points out that only 45.6% of working-age Americans are working.”

    When you sputter your rights from the gutter and vote your thugs over me and my friend’s jobs, I haven’t the time to reflect that your claims deserve respect. I’m just looking to do some scrubbing. Forgive the lack of genuflection; I doubt the naysayers will mention a lack of discretion once the problem’s solved.

  28. jon baker Says:

    Perhaps 45.6% is not so bad if part of the other “non-working” 54.4% is conservative, middle class, stay at home moms whose husbands are supporting them….the whole “hand that rocks the cradle…” thing.

    Along the same lines let me recommend a movie I saw this weekend called “Courageous”. I am a 41 year old ex-soldier, currently blue collar buisiness owner and I cried a lot in that movie. A buddy of mine told me he cried when he went and saw it. The movie is basically a call for men, in particular Christian fathers, to stand up and do whats right for their families, their nation and their God. The last time I cried like that was when Jim Caveziel came to our Church and the pastor interviewed him and the call there was similiar.

  29. neo-neocon Says:

    Don Carlos: I knew the votes would come in that way. No surprise whatsoever.

  30. Occam's Beard Says:

    I think the Left feels robbed. They were supposed to inherit the future, and the future is already the past. What I don’t relate to is the profound emotional attachment many seem to feel for those ideas.

    In one of the paradoxes that seem to characterize the human condition, the soi disant “progressives” are in the same boat as fundamentalist Muslims, whom I might characterize as the “retrogressives.”

    Each group feels that it has been true to the faith, and therefore has earned its deity’s favor. Yet each group has been done to, as they see it, by infidels.

    How can this be? Ah, because they’ve fallen away from the true faith! That must be it. So they redouble their efforts at doctrinal purity, hoping thereby to prove to their deity (Allah, Karl, Gaia, whatever) their worthiness for approbation. Because their views are a matter of faith, redoubling their efforts is the only way forward; questioning whether they’re going in the right direction is heresy. Hence the emotional attachment, and the unwillingness to consider that possibly, just possibly, the pole star they’re following isn’t Polaris, but just the running lights on jetliner passing overhead.

  31. Perfected democrat Says:

    Like it or not – but you better believe it – we are simply the proverbial frogs in the pot of boiling water that is being heated by the aspiring authoritarian leftist-islamic coalition who hope to dominate each other after they finally have us up to temperature, resigned to our fates in their collective soup. Things always end badly for the innocent when either of those groups is allowed to dominate affairs. They will never compromise in good faith. There can be no resolution except by some measure of effective force, historically rarely precluding serious violence.

  32. rickl Says:

    I’ve observed before that whenever we compromise with the left, the country moves leftwards. I cannot think of a single solitary example where compromise moved us back to constitutional principles. The ratchet only moves in one direction. The change is permanent, becoming the “new normal”, and the starting point for the next compromise.

    This has been going on for the better part of a century, and if anything, it is only accelerating. I’ve been predicting civil war ever since Obama was elected. You can’t have half of the population trying to force communism on the other half without coming to blows sooner or later.

    What compromise is possible between those who seek total control and those who want to be left alone?

    I like Codevilla’s formulation of the Ruling Class vs. the Country Class. Unfortunately, a large swath of the Republican Party is part of the ruling class, and they have no intention of shrinking the government. If only it was simply a matter of defeating Democrats at the polls, but our situation is much more serious than that.

  33. J.J. formerly Jimmy J. Says:

    The big government, small government debate has been with us from the beginning. Jefferson was a proponent of smaller, weaker Federal government and for states rights. Hamilton and Adams were for a strong Federal government with weaker states rights.

    If those giants of their times were split on the issue, it indicates to me that there is something in the genes that allows (or commands) people who live in the same society to see the issues so differently.

    The Civil War was fought over just that issue. (No, it really wasn’t primarily about slavery.) Fortunately, (Or unfortunately, depending on how you see things) there is not a major region of the country or group of states that hold strongly to either philosophy although there are definitely majority blue (liberal) states and majority red (conservative) states. So, a civil war isn’t in the cards……yet.

    The truth is that the liberals/progressives have been gradually gaining more control since the days of Teddy Roosevelt. Thus far, in spite of all the increases in size and power of the Federal government, the country has managed to win two world wars, win the Cold War, overcome a severe depression, and become the wealthiest counrtry in history in the bargain.

    We have been this deep in debt before, shortly after WWII ended. We extricated ourselves from that by cutting Federal spending and ramping up our economy. Less spending, more economic growth – it worked once before, it can work again.

    However, it was rather easy to cut spending because most of the spending had been on the war and there weren’t government entitlement programs of any note. In this case there is a double barrier to getting our house in order. The first is our inability to ramp up our economy as long as we are in the thrall of progressive/environmental anti-industrialism. The second is the progressive’s inability to give up one dime of entitlement programs or to actually quit automatically increasing Federal spending by 7% per year.

    How do intelligent people who can see what is happening in Europe, not get the message that too much government spending and slow/no economic growth leads eventually to bankruptcy? And yet the progressives manage, somehow, to deny what is happening. Or to kick the can down the road because they hope that tincture of time will cure the problem. Or that, miraculously, the economy will recover in spite of their anti-business policies. Until banks like BofA or CITI go belly up, will the progressives continue to whistle past the graveyard?

    The interesting thing to me is that every one of the Republican candidates are in favor of less spending and ramping up our economy as the way forward. That’s good enough for me. I willl support and work for anyone of them who is nominated. I hope all who recognize that Obama and the progressives are on the wrong track, will join me.

    Maybe, when the history of this period is written and the country has managed to reinvigorate itself, the historians will record that enough of the citizens made good electoral choices, and that less spending, coupled with business friendly policies, saved us from bankruptcy.

  34. Parker Says:

    “We have been this deep in debt before, shortly after WWII ended.”

    Debt as a percentage of GDP topped out at around 115% in FDR’s 3rd term and by the end of WW2 it was around 92%. Right now it is at 100% of GDP. Using baseline budgeting it will be 105+% of GDP come the end of fiscal year 2012 (even with 120 billion reduction in annual spending). It will continue to grow unless drastic measures are taken. And those drastic measures (a balanced DC budget) will produce a 10-20% decline in GDP initially.

    “Less spending, more economic growth – it worked once before, it can work again.”

    We could grow our way out of this if there was a national consensus for a balanced budget, major reforms to entitlement programs, and a significant cut in DOD spending. IMO the public is not willing to take the hit. More and more I am inclined to believe a majority of voters are not willing to face the reality of austerity.

  35. rickl Says:

    One of the biggest reasons that the U.S. became such an economic powerhouse after WWII is that the industrial base of nearly every other major country had been blasted to smithereens. For a while we were literally the only game in town.

    That’s not the case today, and indeed our own industrial base has been hollowed out in recent decades. And it’s not just the physical plants, but also that, as factories closed and moved away, many skilled tradesmen and craftsmen have retired and died without having anyone to pass their knowledge to.

  36. Curtis Says:

    The Civil War and now face a similar issue: Shall one people fund another people? And it seems to come down to “a people,” but therein may lie the answer. When the left loses its authority among the brown and black peoples, then what does it have left?

    And what shall convince the brown and black peoples except they get their way and reap poverty and destruction? The latest polls show a majority of brown and black people support socialism. And why wouldn’t they? We have supplied and they have come and reaped and like it. But the famine is coming and is the only teacher capable of instructing against the “hope and change” lie.

  37. Curtis Says:

    The liberal left has so addicted half the country to government entitlement programs and the fiction that they can’t possibly make it in life without the aid of government that many have forgotten the meaning of personal freedom and the power that comes with it. (Cal Thomas)

    Were we so prosperous that our “extra” from a nation of 300 million was enough to be more than pretty much the whole rest of the world?

    Progressives look backwards and fear. That fear is the restricting factor in their zero sum calculations. If there is irony here, it is that progressive faith in human potential is not represented in progressive policy.

  38. Rose Says:

    Fundamentally – our government is failing us, at every level. California legislators have continually spent more than we had. Then, when the cash crisis comes, they don’t quit spending, they whine and set about taking more money. they push for legislation that removes the super-majority requirement, so they can spend more money faster than ever before. Term limits, passed by the voters in an attempt to solve the problem, have only made it worse. Now no one is accountable.

    Who can explain why the voters continue to elect worthless culls and spendthrifts? Partisan she-bitches from hell?

    Year after year after year we have read about ‘draconian’ budget cuts, cries that schools will close and people will be laid off and there will be no more firemen or policemen unless we agree to more fees and more sales taxes and more and more and more… the government is a beast that has outgrown its cage. I don’t know if you can put it back in.

    Scott Walker is trying. REPUBLICANS – whatever their faults may be – are the ones trying to stem the tide, trying to set the right course, and stop the madness. For that reason alone, we must support them.

    We can fight the other battles later. Right now, we have to stop the people who will vote for a bill they have not read, for partisan reasons. People who will deem a budget passed. People who admonish us that we must bend to their will NOW, rrrrrightaway, pass it now or we’re all gonna die, people who long ago forgot, if they ever knew, what it meant to be a Statesman.

    If that means political intransigence, then yes, I am for it. Until it is fixed.

    2012 cannot come soon enough. Even Chris Matthews now knows this. Obama is a horrible, horrible failure, and he and all of his kind must go.

  39. Curtis Says:

    Politics is the foundation for either peace or war. It looks like war, recently, and that is not a cause for joy. What lovely times might we have had, but I suppose we hope to give to those who follow, something which joy may follow: freedom.

  40. FrankB Says:

    I think a lot of the discussion about the polarity of the current political parties misses a larger trend. Typically in American politics one party is dominate and is an instrument of the current cultural zeitgeist.

    What I see happening now is that both parties are effectively in a draw. Which produces unnaturally divisive, and highly frictional conflicts over political matters because there exists no “natural” mandate on any particular position.

    For some reason the Dems believe that they ought to possess this dominate position. I do wonder if it has anything to do with the extreme careerism of politicians in the current era. (After all 40-50 years in public life is bound to lead to some level of stagnation). Because I don’t believe the Dems ever adjusted to the idea that they weren’t the majority party after the 1980, 1994, 2010 elections. And Republican’s have never really gained the confidence to act like the majority party. (Here I think is the source of a lot of the problems the GOP faces. The Rinoism situation, the rarity of strong conservative voices in the party.)

    So when I read these articles on how “mean” the parties are I think the authors aren’t really looking the big picture. Not to mention that narrative always seems to start favoring one side of the political equation. Never mind the fact that that side is also the same side with the most extreme political rhetoric.

    Lets just hope for all our sakes that this next election proves more decisive and starts transitioning from this political draw back into a single party dominance.

  41. stan Says:

    Charles Krauthammer — the difference between Democrats and Republicans is that Republicans think Democrats are wrong and Democrats think Republicans are evil.

    No one has any interest in compromising with evil or even trying to understand it. This leads to “bitter clingers” and “what’s the matter with Kansas”. Liberals genuinely believe that conservatives are mean-spirited, hate-filled, anti-science, racist, sexist homophobes bent on exploiting workers and spoiling the environment.

    And conservatives have noticed. Some haven’t liked it very much and have begun to return fire. Does anyone really believe there is going to be an amicable relationship in government when one side despises the other so much?

  42. armchair pessimist Says:

    I once had a civil conversation with a red hot liberal in which we agreed that we each desired to see the other put 6 feet under. Lenin’s famous question: Who whom?

  43. Don Carlos Says:

    J.J.-
    I think there is a fundamental difference between post-WWII and now, which we overlook at some peril.
    The US was the major industrial power then. The world needed our products.
    Today, we are a service economy, wiping each other’s noses, waiting on each other’s tables.
    Not something we can grow ourselves out of. We are not adding value.

  44. Randy Says:

    “I see a similar thing operating among Republicans; just switch the parties ”

    Intransigence from the conservative side originates, I believe, from the fact that it has no structural conservative policy victories under its belt. None. This is in spite the fact conservatives have a pretty good record at the polls.

    The Democrats, on the other hand, are so used to the GOP caving that they have come to believe that is what compromise looks like.

    It really is time for a fight. Or we can compromise and fight when things bleaker.

  45. Randy Says:

    Stan said:

    “And conservatives have noticed.”

    Yep.

  46. J.J. formerly Jimmy J. Says:

    Don Carlos said, “I think there is a fundamental difference between post-WWII and now, which we overlook at some peril.
    The US was the major industrial power then. The world needed our products.
    Today, we are a service economy, wiping each other’s noses, waiting on each other’s tables.”

    You forget that there was no “global” economy then. There were few customers for our products save our own middle class. We made and sold our products to ourseles for the most part because the rest of the world was broke. We helped them change that, but failled to see the change and how it would affect us. Even worse, since the eighties, the problem has been the rise of the anti-industrial environmental movement in this country. We have quit making and producing things (except agricultural products, airplanes, and heavy industrial equipment) because the enviros have made it expensive or against the law. Even today they are harrassing the farmers by cutting off irrigation water, and forcing them to cultivate less land to “protect wet lands and watersheds.” If the enviros have their way we will become a nation totally dependent on others. That would be a tragedy because we are blessed with all the natural resources we need, very productive farm land, plenty of people who are willing to work, and the capital markets that can make it happen. Instead we are harnessed, tied down like Gulliver by the Lilliputians of the environmental movement.

    The value added goods come from farm products, oil and gas, mining output, lumbering, fishing, electrical generating plants, the development of real estate, and manufacturing of both high and low tech goods. Except for heavy equipment, and airplanes we have forced our manufacturing offshore through regulation, unionization, and high taxes. We could change back quite easily. Rules and regulations written on pieces of paper are holding us back. Those can be changed. Let’s do it!

  47. Don Carlos Says:

    There was indeed a ‘global’ economy post-WWII. There always has been such. The Krauts, Frogs, and Brits didn’t just recover by pulling themselves up by their war-rotted bootstraps. The US had trade surpluses then, but we’ve had trade deficits for the past 25 or so years. That’s the diff.

  48. JJ Says:

    Don Carlos,
    The rise of our trade deficits corresponds almost perfectly with our the increase in our importation of oil, lumber, minerals, and, in the last ten years, years, consumer goods from China Your view seems to be that nothing can be done – all is lost. If thta’s true, then we should all just give up and maximize our own comforts while things collapse all around us.

    I’m old enough to remember how bleak
    things looked for the Allies in 1942. There was no certainty whatsoever that we would prevail. It took a willingness to do the things that needed to be done to win. Although I was only eight when WWII began, I was old enough to have noticed the debilitating effects of the Depression. There was a sense of hopelessness. Most people had accepted that things were never going to improve much. The war effort united the population and spurred them to do the things necessary to win. We recycled everything, went without milk, meat, gasoline, tires, and much else. People complained but we had leadership that put politics aside in favor of the survival of the country.

    I recognize, perticularly from the way our President and Senators are be having, that our leaders don’t recognize the problem. That can and will change. Anyway, I believe there is a course out of our present situation and intend to work toward that goal in whatever way I can.

  49. JJ Says:

    Sorry about all the typos in the last comment – I’m working from a mini pad and was too quick to enter.

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Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.
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