I’ve never understood the gravity this man’s words, or so-called “thoughts”, have carried in the left of center blogosphere. By all accounts, he is yet another kid with an ivy degree, with a brain full of weeds to match, who has unrelentingly failed upwards at the Center for American
I mean seriously, have you actually read this shit? I swear, for awhile, all he blogged about was parking. You think I’m joking?
Now, McCardle is a whole other subset of primate I don’t even want to get into. Consuming a McMegan article is akin to watching arc welding or staring at the sun: if you do it for too long, you will go blind. For the uninitiated, here is a taste, crowdsourced to Taibbi, and DeLong.
But back to Mr. Matt, and the dumbing down of the American “Left.”
His latest pile of dung offers the following pseudo-intellectual question:
Uh, how about slavery? I spent a good deal of time dispensing with this in another diary. It’s also on Yahoo! answers for fuck’s sake. I suppose history courses are not part of the philosophy curriculum at Haaaaahvard. But I think if a 3rd party can handle hiccups like slavery, secession, and the like, I think it could be helpful elsewhere.
If the problem is that there are some good ideas for boosting America’s economic growth, but “the interest groups and ideological litmus tests in both parties” won’t allow for its adoption then how does electing an independent president help? Both houses of Congress will be in the hands of the interest groups and ideological litmus tests and nothing will happen.
No, that’s just it. The mainstream members of the rank and file *do* agree! Poll after poll confirms this. It’s the ideological fundamentalists who rule each party who do not agree, and even that is all a charade. In fact they do agree, but they are obsessed with creating an illusion of choice every other November. The disagreement is between the party leaders, and the public, *not* between the two parties. There really is only one real party anyway: the Party of Cuts.
Ideology, litmus tests, interest groups, etc. are not new in U.S. politics, Matt. Believe it or not, they exist in Canadian politics, U.K. politics, Dutch politics, Swedish politics, Costa Rican politics, etc. In other words, this is not a new problem, and it can be solved.
Lincoln did it; but he had to join a third party to do so. This is especially crucial today, as again there only is one party.
Now compare that situation to one in which a member of a major political party is elected president. On the one hand, as a partisan leader he’s beholden to interest groups and ideological litmus tests. On the other hand, as a practical politician he wants to win re-election. And his best chance at winning re-election is strong economic performance. So he has strong incentives to balance interest group considerations with his best assessment of what’s the right thing to do. And since his copartisans have an interest in his political success, he has a chance to mobilize political support for his agenda of reform and renewal.
This is just…
First of all, the practical way to get votes is to BUY them. A billion dollars can buy a lot of votes. A free market fundamentalist like Yglesias (or McMegan for that matter) should be able to appreciate the true market forces at play here.
Third, if his best chance at re-election is economic performance (it’s actually jobs, but whatever) why did he just sign a bill that every economist has said will be a disaster? A bill that needed to be signed, else the markets would fall (whoops!). A bill that needed to be signed, else our credit rating will be cut (whoops!). If there is a better definition of “failure,” I cannot find it.
I’m not even going to address the idiocy of “incentives.”
And finally, our “interest in his political success.” The amount of willful blindness needed to make such a statement is appalling, and is flawed for many obvious reasons that have been, and will be, retread on this site and others.
So instead, let’s re-look at Lincoln.
The abolitionists took the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854 as the last straw with the Whig party leadership. At the time, another former Illinois senator, Democrat Stephen Douglas, envisioned this bill as a Grand Compromise (sound familiar?), a compromise that would lead to an expansion of slavery.
Do you know what the abolitionists who were against the act did?
They got pissed.
They formed a new party.
One former Whig congressman got so pissed off, he joined the new party and decided to get back into local Illinois politics. The debates between the Democrat Douglas and the former Whig are now legendary.
The story is instructive because it is a living example of how a major political party can die at the hands of a third party.
Lincoln did not take Matt’s advice, or simply take as a given what his Whig party masters told him. Lincoln was not impressed with the Whig party’s agenda, and certainly had no interest in their political fortune.
No, Lincoln was a radical, who was *not* interested in compromise; so much so it lead to his death. The irony is that his sacrifice led to the possibility of Obama being free to run for president from the same state, and throw asunder the ideals of integrity and sacrifice Lincoln cherished for his own perfunctory needs.
For someone like Yglesias to callously and carelessly ask a dumb rhetorical question, which actually has an answer that resoundingly refutes his point, shows that the Left now has it’s own McMegan.