Friday, October 09, 2015

Speaker of the House Crisis is a Good Time for Republicans to Take Their Party Back ...

... by allying with Democrats.

If an establishment Republican in the House went to the Democratic members and proposed to work with them to govern, in exchange for their support in the Speaker's race, this would be good for the country.

The Tea Party would be completely uncooperative, of course - but they are doing that already.  The Republicans cannot govern with them.  But perhaps they can without them.

Thursday, October 08, 2015

Middle American Radicals Want a Demagogue

John Judis has an interesting take on "The Intellectual History of Trump Supporters".  He connects them with an analysis from the 1970s of "Middle American Radicals," moderately educated white populists who strongly oppose the government and the bankers, the non-whites and the immigrants. They have a strong affinity with the Tea Party constituency.  And the Tea Party is drawn to Donald Trump.

The main things the MARS voters want is a strong man to fight all their enemies.  Or, as I argued recently, they want a demagogue.

Fortunately, Judis points out, there are not enough of them to elect a demagogue.  They may make up as much as 20% of the electorate, but that still does not get their guy elected.  He predicts that Trump - like George Wallace, Ross Perot, and Pat Buchanan before him - will fade away.

Wednesday, October 07, 2015

Extreme Poverty Worldwide Fell Below 10% for the First Time

The World Bank reported this excellent news.

The biggest improvements have been in East Asia - formerly the proverbial location for the starving millions - where extreme poverty has fallen to just over five percent.

Tuesday, October 06, 2015

The Second Amendment is Not a Charter for War on the Government

The American Revolution is bad precedent for today's individuals-against-the-government reading of the Second Amendment. The state governments sent representatives to Congress, which created a Continental Army made up of troops recruited by the states. General Washington, the duly designated commander, tried mightily to turn the rag-tag militias into well-regulated military units. 

The fundamental justification for creating this revolutionary army was to protest against a monarchy which refused even token representation to the colonies.  It is hard to imagine a scenario in the United States in which a legally constituted authority had no democratic means for redress of grievances. 

The Second Amendment protects the rights of citizens to join a well-regulated militia, of which we have several levels.  The idea that every citizen constitutes a legitimate “militia of one” is as archaic as the idea of quartering troops in citizens’ homes.

Monday, October 05, 2015

The Donald Trump Bubble Shows There is a Significant Market for a Demagogue

Today there is a market for a demagogue - someone whose entire appeal is polarizing, uncivil, personally vilifying, and policy-less. The demagogue's message is "you are weak, but I will make us strong again." 

There are always demagogues in the political market.  Usually the governing parties are able to shut them out by appealing to the majority who want government to govern according to law.  Governing parties then debate policies that appeal to their separate constituencies and reach some compromise.

Now, though, one of the governing parties has created a dangerous opening for demagogues to infiltrate and take over their party structure.  By running on a platform of "government is the problem" for a generation, one party has invited to cuckoos to lay their eggs in the party nest.  And now the eggs are hatching and demanding to be fed.

Sunday, October 04, 2015

Why Do So Many Conservative Christians Love Their Guns?

In response to my earlier post on the assault weapons ban, I was asked by Barry, a regular reader:

What is the strong correlation between evangelistic Christianity and gun fandom? IT seems that there should be none, however, the correlation is strong

Barry, I agree that the attachment that many conservative Christians feels for their guns is very puzzling.  This is especially puzzling for those who want guns for hypothetical warfare with their own government - the exact scenario Jesus faced when he accepted crucifixion.

I think most people's religion is really a tribal religion, syncretized with elements of more universalistic world religions.  This goes for nationalistic Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, and Confucianists, as much as for nationalistic Christians.  In these cases, I believe they envision themselves as "good guys with guns" who will protect the tribe against "bad guys with guns". And, of course, the latter usually imagine the same about themselves.