Friday, September 07, 2012

The Last Tea Party Election

David Brooks laments that

The country that exists is not on the right track. It has a completely dysfunctional political system. What was there in this speech [of Obama's at the Democratic Convention] that will make us think the next few years will be any different? America will only be governable again if there is a leader who breaks the mold and reframes the debate. Romney is unlikely to do that, and Obama’s speech didn’t offer much either.

I am more optimistic than David Brooks that our political system will soon recover some balance.

There are many legitimate interests in a complex society, some of which are in conflict. Working out these conflicts requires compromise.  These compromises will, of necessity, not please most people in every detail.  But most people can see that compromise is necessary. Politics requires the ability to compromise. If you are not willing to compromise, if you see compromise as weakness or treason, then you should not get involved in politics.

The main reason our political system is so dysfunctional right now is the Tea Party movement. They reject compromise on principal.  They want contradictory things - smaller government for people they disapprove of, without any reduction of government for themselves. They attack their political enemies, and they attack their political allies - that is, normal Republican politicians - even harder if they don't toe the line.

The Tea Party is a Know-Nothing movement, of a kind that periodically appears in American politics. And the history of Know-Nothing movements convinces me that they are self-limiting.  They typically last about three electoral cycles.  2012 is the third Tea Party cycle. If the Democrats win, the Tea Party will start to get disheartened with politics - their normal attitude - and return to their previous grudging support of the establishment Republicans or political quietude. If the Republicans win, the Tea Party will turn on them even greater disillusionment for not being able to deliver big government for good people, no government for bad people, and all at no cost.

And when the Tea Party is gone, the regular politicians of both parties will be able to work with one another.  They will not completely end partisan politics and some mutual obstruction.  But the Party of NO will be able to become, once again, the party of Let's Make a Deal.  And the normal, fairly functional politics of American government can resume.

13 comments:

ceemac said...

Yep. You just described my folks. Tea Party to the core. They are in their early 80's. But it is kind of funny in a sad sort of way. Dad retired from a federal agency when he was in his late 50's since he was vested in his federal pension and didn't want to take a transfer. Sent me to a state college for practically nothing since tuition was dirt cheap in the 70's. Thanks to SS and Medicare they didn't go bankrupt dealing when both of my grandmothers lived into their 90's in failing health. etc etc

Now I'm not as optimistic as you are about the decline of the TP. At least from where I sit in Texas. Down here we've got a strange brew of Social Darwinism and Social Conservatism that's season with a heaping portion of Crony Capitalism. And those are the moderates. :-)

gruntled said...

I am also hopeful that conservative Christians will realize that they aren't really Randians and Social Darwinists.

It is surprising how many don't see the flat contradiction between those two worldviews, despite Rand's own crystal clarity on this point.

Mac said...

The problem I have with the vitriolic attitude of the Obama-Reed-Pelosi Democratic Party is its demand that its political opponents compromise on principle. Certainly, the Dems are unwilling to do so and claim the moral high ground for their solidarity. Having been lied to and snookered by the Dems for decades (the one dollar in taxes is always collected and spent, but the two, three or ten dollars of spending cuts never appear), many Americans are unwilling to "compromise" with the other side anymore. Reed is especially guilty for refusing to bring House-passed legislation to the floor--out of fear that enough of his caucus might actually listen to their constituents and pass it, putting the President in a politically unpleasant position.

wigg said...

We tea-baggers have one more election in us before we fade away.

gruntled said...

Wigg - yep, it will be a close one.

Anonymous said...

Speeches do not a leader make.

gruntled said...

"Speeches do not a leader make."

Agreed.

This does: http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/magazine/march_april_2012/features/obamas_top_50_accomplishments035755.php

Anonymous said...

I fear over half the country feels he is leading us in the wrong direction...

gruntled said...

This is often the case after an election. That is why I say politics requires compromise, and people who do not believe in compromise should stay out of politics.

Anonymous said...

President Obama wasted all the good will he had, 70 percent approval, by ramming a healthcare plan through with no Republican votes. He famously told Eric Cantor that elections have consequences and he would not compromise.President Obama must now lay in the bed that he has made.

gruntled said...

I read the health care vote the other way. He made many compromises, most especially in dropping the public option. Even so, no Republicans would vote for universal health insurance because their leadership had decided (and proclaimed publicly) that their highest priority was defeating President Obama - no matter what the policy.

I believe Republican refusal so compromise on universal health insurance, which will be a very popular program, will come back to haunt them.

Anonymous said...

See Bob Woodward's take on Obama's unwillingness to compromise. It supports my view and he is no tea bagger.

Anonymous said...

http://www.conservativenewsandviews.com/2012/09/09/editorial/obamacare-in-one-sentence/

Obamacare in one sentence...