PDA

View Full Version : Political Stagnation?



David G
11-26-2011, 11:30 AM
David Brooks talks about the Sun & Moon theory:


David Brooks: Our era of two moons, partisan polarization and policy stagnation


By David Brooks
New York Times
Published: November 22, 2011 - 06:26 PM New York:

In 1951, Samuel Lubell invented the concept of the political solar system. At any moment, he wrote, there is a Sun Party (the majority party, which drives the agenda) and a Moon Party (the minority party, which shines by reflecting the solar rays).

During Franklin Roosevelt’s era, Democrats were the Sun Party. During Ronald Reagan’s, Republicans were. Then, between 1996 and 2004, the two parties were tied. We lived in a 50-50 nation in which the overall party vote totals barely budged five elections in a row. It seemed then that we were in a moment of transition, waiting for the next Sun Party to emerge.

But something strange happened. No party took the lead. According to data today, both parties have become minority parties simultaneously. We are living in the era of two moons and no sun.

It used to be that the parties were on a seesaw: If the ratings of one dropped, then the ratings of the other rose. But now the two parties have record-low approval ratings together. Neither party has been able to rally the country behind its vision of government.

Ronald Brownstein summarized the underlying typography recently in The National Journal: “In Allstate/National Journal Heartland Monitor polls over the past two years, up to 40 percent of Americans have consistently expressed support for the conservative view that government is more the problem than the solution for the nation’s challenges; about another 30 percent have backed the Democratic view that government must take an active role in the economy; and the remaining 30 percent are agnostic. They are open to government activism in theory but skeptical it will help them in practice.”

In these circumstances, both parties have developed minority mentalities. The Republicans feel oppressed by the cultural establishment, and Democrats feel oppressed by the corporate establishment. They embrace the mental habits that have always been adopted by those who feel themselves resisting the onslaught of a dominant culture.

Their main fear is that they will lose their identity and cohesion if their members compromise with the larger world. They erect clear and rigid boundaries separating themselves from their enemies. In a hostile world, they erect rules and pledges and become hypervigilant about deviationism. They are more interested in protecting their special interests than converting outsiders. They slowly encase themselves in an epistemic cocoon.

The Democrat and Republican parties used to contain serious internal debates — between moderate and conservative Republicans, between New Democrats and liberals. Neither party does now.

The Democratic and Republican parties used to promote skilled coalition builders. Now the American parties have come to resemble the ideologically coherent European ones.
The Democrats talk and look like a conventional liberal party (some liberals, who represent, at most, 30 percent of the country, are disappointed because President Barack Obama hasn’t ushered in a Huffington Post paradise). Meanwhile, many Republicans flock to Herman Cain or Newt Gingrich because they are more interested in having a leader who can take on the mainstream news media than in having one who can plausibly govern. Grover Norquist’s tax pledge isn’t really about public policy; it’s a chastity belt Republican politicians wear to show that they haven’t been defiled by the Washington culture.

The era of the two moons is a volatile era. Independent voters are trapped in a cycle of sour rejectionism — voting against whichever of the two options they dislike most at the moment. The shift between the 2008 election, when voters rejected Republicans, and the 2010 election, when voters rejected Democrats, was as big as any shift in recent history.

Sometimes voters even reject both parties on the same day. In Ohio last month, for example, voters rejected the main fiscal policy of the Republican governor. On the same ballot, by 31 points, they rejected health care reform, the main initiative of their Democratic president.

In policy terms, the era of the two moons is an era of stagnation. Each party is too weak to push its own agenda and too encased by its own cocoon to agree to a hybrid. The supercommittee failed for this reason. Members of the supercommittee actually took some brave steps outside party orthodoxy (Republicans embraced progressive tax increases, Democrats flirted with spending cuts), but these were baby steps, insufficient to change the alignment.

In normal circumstances, minority parties suffer a series of electoral defeats and then they modernize. But in the era of the two moons, the parties enjoy periodic election victories they don’t deserve, which only re-enforce their worst habits.

So it’s hard to see how we get out of this, unless some third force emerges, which wedges itself into one of the two parties, or unless we have a devastating fiscal crisis — a brutal cleansing flood, after which the sun will shine again.

Ray Frechette Jr
11-26-2011, 12:00 PM
Yeah, but there are those of us who fear either party getting full control of the levers of governance because both parties have shown themselves to be irresponsible when they have the controls.

SMARTINSEN
11-26-2011, 12:13 PM
The shift between the 2008 election, when voters rejected Republicans, and the 2010 election, when voters rejected Democrats, was as big as any shift in recent history.

I assert that the 2010 elections were not a big shift but simply of a continuance of the same theme of voters rejecting the Washington status quo of a government that does not work very well and does not represent the interests of the majority of the nation, whether they are Republicans or Democrats really not making so much of a difference.

David G
11-26-2011, 12:20 PM
Yeah, but there are those of us who fear either party getting full control of the levers of governance because both parties have shown themselves to be irresponsible when they have the controls.

I'm less concerned, given that we've swung so far toward stagnation. I'll agree that parties with big majorities have sometimes overplayed their hands, but it usually gets corrected next election cycle. Of course, it's easier to notice and take umbrage at... when it's the 'other' party in power. Overall, I think this factor, while a legitimate concern, is overblown.

David G
11-26-2011, 12:30 PM
I assert that the 2010 elections were not a big shift but simply of a continuance of the same theme of voters rejecting the Washington status quo of a government that does not work very well and does not represent the interests of the majority of the nation, whether they are Republicans or Democrats really not making so much of a difference.

Steve,

I suspect he was talking about the swing in percentages between Dem & Rep in one cycle. Don't know if he's right on the #'s, but I think that was his assertion.

You may have a point, but I think maybe it's peripheral to the interpretation Brooks offers on the current situation. Do you have any thoughts on the accuracy of his premise?

For instance -- is this theory supported by the current crop of Presidential candidates... or not?

SMARTINSEN
11-26-2011, 02:34 PM
Steve,



For instance -- is this theory supported by the current crop of Presidential candidates... or not?

Well, I do not think that you will get any argument even from the staunchest conservative that the current field for the GOP nomination is quite weak. And as far as the President is concerned, one could easily make the argument that he is weak, as well.

The Democrat and Republican parties used to contain serious internal debates — between moderate and conservative Republicans, between New Democrats and liberals. Neither party does now.
I can agree with this generally, though it seems to me that rigid adherence to orthodoxy has always been, and still is, more closely identified with the Republicans.

Waddie
11-27-2011, 05:36 AM
There is a core constituency in both parties that will always be fanatically devoted to their political party and it's leaders. They are incapable of finding fault with the positions, policies, performance or even most personal actions of their gods, because it is a religion, and will rationalize any failings or deviance from the accepted mantra as, well, he's still better than their guy or their guy does it, too. These people don't listen to the opinions of critics, they just interpret events to fit their adopted world view, and seek out other like minded people for psychological reinforcement. We call them partisans.

Then there are the independents. While Republican and Democrat are supposed to be dirty words, to be under the independent label is to be a free thinker, clean and honest in a world of rabid partisans. After all, the independent has an open mind, and can see things clearly. Surely independents casts their votes in the best interest of the country.......Hmmmmmm...... they usually cast their votes to remove the guy who wants to raise their taxes, but also vote against the guy who wants to cut their benefits. That's how the elderly have always voted. Only thing new here is that the baby boomers started voting like old people way earlier in life - that is - selfishly.

And the recent Ohio vote wasn't turned by independent voters. I was won by a great job done by unions getting out their vote. That and several millions of dollars they spent. Rank and file union voters, and those who sympathize with them, don't like Kasich or Obama's health care deal, which many believe threatens their own union health plans, which are generally much more generous. The unions won the Ohio vote.

regards,
Waddie

John Smith
11-27-2011, 07:50 AM
At the risk of being called a blindly loyal democrat, which I don't thnk is true, I'd make the following observation.

Under Pelosi's speakership, over 400 bills passed the House. Many with bipartisan support. The Republicans in the senate demanded 60 votes to pass any of them, and those 60 votes wee not there. In spite of being told the democrats were in control, they were not in control enough to beat a filibuster.

These same Republicans have stated emphatically that their primary goal is making Obama a one term president. They have voted against bills they wrote because Obama's failing was a higher priority that passing something they believed was good for the country.

There are 100 senators. When bill after bill gets 57 or more democratic votes for it, but fails because 41 Republicans voted against it, there is no logic in blaming the Democrats for it not passing.

RonW
11-27-2011, 08:12 AM
Under Pelosi's speakership, over 400 bills passed the House.

I don't find political stagnation a problem at all, in fact a much better balance. Pelosi was speaker for 4 years, and if they passed over 400 bills, what is that? A bill every other day.I remember Pelosi saying this is going to be the most productive congress on record passing more bills then any previous or future congress.
All these bills have consequences, how and what do they effect, and will it be for the betterment or for the worse?
No new laws is far better then a bunch of new bad laws that do nothing but create problems and more deficit ink.

Waddie
11-27-2011, 08:20 AM
At the risk of being called a blindly loyal democrat, which I don't thnk is true, I'd make the following observation.

Under Pelosi's speakership, over 400 bills passed the House. Many with bipartisan support. The Republicans in the senate demanded 60 votes to pass any of them, and those 60 votes wee not there. In spite of being told the democrats were in control, they were not in control enough to beat a filibuster.

These same Republicans have stated emphatically that their primary goal is making Obama a one term president. They have voted against bills they wrote because Obama's failing was a higher priority that passing something they believed was good for the country.

There are 100 senators. When bill after bill gets 57 or more democratic votes for it, but fails because 41 Republicans voted against it, there is no logic in blaming the Democrats for it not passing.


John, see paragraph #1.

You are right about those bills not passing. But most of them had Democratic opposition as well, especially from Blue Dog Democrats. And often a few "moderate" Republicans voted with the Democrats. And the same happens in reverse.

Actually, removing earmarks and making everybody in Washington swear to avoid them probably hasn't been good for the system in general. In the past one Congressman would support another's bill because his own bill would be coming up soon and he wanted to count on the other guy's support. That system, which served us well for decades, is now in shambles. But it did lead to big things getting done, perhaps at the expense of some pork in the process.

regards,
Waddie

Tylerdurden
11-27-2011, 08:41 AM
Vote for Ron Paul and flush. Can anyone here suggest a candidate that would shake up the malaise more than he would? More of the same or lesser of two evils is a failed policy promoted by those looking to get over on others or men just filled with fear of change. That is not how this country came to be.

My only fear is it is much too late and the programmed will stand in the way of change like they always do.

Waddie
11-27-2011, 10:57 AM
I think you're right, but you've got the generations mislabelled. I don't think it is the boomers who have changed attitudes, so much as the generation which has followed it. I have a niece, 25 or 30 years my junior, who is a rabid, hard core right winger.... despite the fact that her parents, and her aunts and uncles, all part of my generation, are all reformed 1960's hippies, still liberal and progressive, politically.
I prefer to define it thusly: I, and my contemporaries, are part of the 'us' generation.... the neice is part of the 'me' generation.

Norman, we baby boomers set out to change the world in the 60's, and we did do some good things, like civil rights and concern for the environment. But there was never a generation so spoiled and "entitled" as ours. For all our big talk, we have become the epitome of selfishness, the most materialistic generation to ever inhabit the planet.

I think what happens to kids is that they go off to liberal universities and often adopt liberal ideas, only to then join the business community and become more conservative as the years pass. Of course, she might just be rebelling, for the sake of rebellion, or against people she considers hypocrites. It happens......

:)

regards,
Waddie

S.V. Airlie
11-27-2011, 11:12 AM
Must be a genetic issue Norman...

Waddie
11-27-2011, 11:34 AM
Nahh, in her case, I just think she's the kind of person who gets carried away far more by the ideas of others, as opposed to formulating her own. For example, she's a devotee of the 'Landmark Forum', which is a descendant of Werner Erhard's 'EST' movement of the late 70's/early 80's. I have always considered that thing as a hybrid of a cult and a scam... and she just won't shut up about it, even when you tell her you're not interested.
I still think that there IS a split between the 'we' generation and the 'me' generation.

It sounds to me like you are saying that a "cult" is the reason she has become a conservative, and as a conservative she can't possibly be thinking for herself. If she could think for herself, she would still be a liberal. Is that about the gist of it?

I don't know how you can consider us the "we" generation. If the younger generation is the "me" generation they learned it from our example. Our generation, in an idealistic fervor, set out to change the status quo, but instead we became the status quo. We became the establishment. Like I said, we did some good, but we squandered our opportunity to fundamentally change the world. We became the baby boomer generation, known for conspicuous consumption, big homes and SUV's. We made the bubble that busted, and we're leaving the so-called "me" generation with a mountain of debt. Is that the act of a "we" generation?

regards,
Waddie

Waddie
11-27-2011, 06:22 PM
Norman Bernstein;3212798]
No, not at all. That's just a prejudicial characterization. I think that most liberals, and most conservatives, are sincere in their beliefs.
What I was describing is a personality type who is more dependent on 'movements' and 'organized ideas', rather than sifting through one's own ideas from the range of available evidence.... and it's not a left/right thing whatsoever.


I have a niece, 25 or 30 years my junior, who is a rabid, hard core right winger

Seems like you're talking about conservatives to me.......


I think you're making a broad characterization without much evidence. MANY of the people I came of age with are still basically progressive in their political orientation. Admittedly, I know a few who changed from idealistic to self-posessed... but not like the younger generation that I come in contact with. I don't think they learned it from their parents.... we just became a more materialistic society than we were 30 years ago, life has become much harder than it was for us, and the struggle to 'succeed' has so many more roadblocks... it's only natural that they turn inwards, for self-preservation. It's a consequence of socio-economic Darwinism.

So only progressive can be idealistic? And you don't believe "we" are responsible for the attitudes expressed by the "me" generation. Their inward focus began long before the economic down turn. IMO, they're no more inward focused than the preceding generation. In many ways, I think they're better than us. But with the burdens we're leaving them with, including paying the costs of our old age (where we have once again been very selfish) they probably won't get to show what they could do.


'We' didn't do that. SOME people did that... the ones who are truly the 'me' generation... the ones who saw the movie 'Wall Street', heard Gordon Gecko say 'greed is good', and though he was the protagonist of the film.

Yes, "we" did do that. "We" ALL became little Gordon Gecko's to some extent. "We" have met the enemy, and it is "Us"...........

regards,
Waddie

John Smith
11-27-2011, 06:42 PM
John, see paragraph #1.

You are right about those bills not passing. But most of them had Democratic opposition as well, especially from Blue Dog Democrats. And often a few "moderate" Republicans voted with the Democrats. And the same happens in reverse.

Actually, removing earmarks and making everybody in Washington swear to avoid them probably hasn't been good for the system in general. In the past one Congressman would support another's bill because his own bill would be coming up soon and he wanted to count on the other guy's support. That system, which served us well for decades, is now in shambles. But it did lead to big things getting done, perhaps at the expense of some pork in the process.

regards,
Waddie

That's why I said 57 votes. My point is that when nearly every, or every democrat votes for a bill and every Republican votes against it, it's dishonest to blame both parties for it failing to pass.

This, I think, is a telling moment in our history. I have long held that Reagan's tax cuts were the beginning of the "starve the government" process.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QTcL6Xc_eMM

John Smith
11-27-2011, 06:44 PM
I think you're right, but you've got the generations mislabelled. I don't think it is the boomers who have changed attitudes, so much as the generation which has followed it. I have a niece, 25 or 30 years my junior, who is a rabid, hard core right winger.... despite the fact that her parents, and her aunts and uncles, all part of my generation, are all reformed 1960's hippies, still liberal and progressive, politically.

I prefer to define it thusly: I, and my contemporaries, are part of the 'us' generation.... the neice is part of the 'me' generation.

I always wonder what government provided stuff the right wingersf would like to do without. If they keep cutting government spending, they may miss some of those things they take for granted today.

Waddie
11-27-2011, 06:50 PM
John Smith;
This, I think, is a telling moment in our history. I have long held that Reagan's tax cuts were the beginning of the "starve the government" process.

Unfortunately, though the tax cuts were a good way to encourage economic growth, both parties made a devil of a deal back then. If you're going to cut taxes, then you also need to cut spending. Neither party favored that. Reagan made a deal with the Democrats, which is how he got so much legislation passed. He got the huge increases in military spending he wanted and the Democrats got the spending on social programs that they wanted. This "gentleman's" agreement is what produced the deficits from that time period. Just go back and look at the voting record on most of that spending. Reagan's strength was his ability to use his opponent's strength against them. In other words, he offered them a deal they couldn't refuse.

regards,
Waddie

BrianW
11-27-2011, 08:43 PM
...up to 40 percent of Americans have consistently expressed support for the conservative view that government is more the problem than the solution for the nation’s challenges; about another 30 percent have backed the Democratic view that government must take an active role in the economy; and the remaining 30 percent are agnostic. They are open to government activism in theory but skeptical it will help them in practice.”...

It's that last 30% that's screwing up. They need to take a stand. I think they just hang around and vote for whoever they think is going to win.