Obama’s Speech

Read the full text here.

My immediate thoughts on the twitter feed (check the right hand column).

As much as I dig the guy, and I do, the “mush-headed” (as Will Wilkinson calls them) Obamaphiles are both creepy and annoying.  More than ever.  He gave a very good speech I thought.  Not that surprising he’s got a talent for it.  I thought he struck a decent balance, mostly focusing on the seriousness of the challenges and the difficulties ahead.  Not going all-soaring.  No matter, too many will just be entranced by the image and the giddiness and the collective vibes, etc.  The words are what matter.  What matters more actually are the actions the words he says point to.

But the key to me is the emphasis on hard work, responsibility, old fashioned values like honesty, thrift, parsimony, etc.  Not the Obama will come to save us, now I love America kinda junk.  He’s a man and will be undoubtedly a very imperfect President.

Obama will the president of another major turning point in American history.  He is while not literally/chronologically, in actual mindset, the first president of the 21st century.  Bush was on a 20th century bender in the 21st.  The country now awakes to the morning after (a new kind of morning in America, this one mostly hung over and dazed).  Obama is a liberal and a new 21st century liberalism (for better and undoubtedly for worse) is now upon us.  [Well assuming he can rangle the Democratic fools in Congress to grow up—paging House and Senate Majority Leader.  Not to mention the resident idiot hacks like Boehner and McConnell].  I wish it didn’t involve (as it will) growth of the state, but since the Republicans had control for 8 years and couldn’t meet the growing challenges via a non-state, organic, civil society process, than they have no one to blame but themselves when it is inevitable that the state fills the void.  I won’t shed a crocodile tear for them truth be told, no matter how much I’m not some reflexively pro-left sorta dude (which I’m not).  The problems of infrastructure–financial, energetic, material–have to be met.  Something has to be done with health care, energy policy, a new rule set for global capitalism, a foreign policy reboot (which I’m not sure he’s going to go as far as I wish he would).  I wish those had been in the last eight years when they could have been done without as much mass state intervention, and I would have prefered less liberal forms of solutions than the ones Obama will pass, but Bush’s AWOL presidency on that front really hurt.  And again, the conservatives had their chance to meet the days challenges and they failed them.  It is then inevitable that the state will grow as a result. They have no one to blame but themselves.

And The New New Majority as it were, when the Republicans eventually do come back to (some/partial) power, as they undoubtedly will, they will only be able to modulate what this liberal wave has set.  As has been the case in American history.   The other form of conservatism, the conservatism of skeptical mindset (but not “believed skepticism”), the conservatism that is best understood as a personal philosophy, will remain and be of enduring value.

Patrick Deneen on (Purposefully) Ignorant Democracy

Patrick Deneen excerpts a decent-sized section of a recently published article of his entitled Democracy Wrongly Understood. It is so brilliant I’m tempted to just cut and paste the whole thing. Read it all. Link here.

Deneen’s basic point is that the US Federalist system (as in Federal power not he states rights’ understanding of Federalism) is of course a republic not a democracy. Madison, the main architect of The Constitution, feared the agglomeration of factionalism within the country. He argued for a powerful federal government that would be filled by disinterested parties who would rightly guide the nation. In that regard, that a whole mess of Americans can’t find the US on a map (“our adults isn’t learning” apparently) shouldn’t surprise us as the US republic is predicated on divide and dissipate dissent–it is built to create a fairly uneducated populace in other words.

For all of the differences between the Progressives and the Framers – and the differences are manifold, as many scholars eagerly point out (e.g., Pestritto, 2005) – there nevertheless exists this striking continuity: both the Founding and the Progressive Eras are dominated by thinkers who praise the rule of the electorate even as they seek to promote systemic governmental features that will minimize electoral influence in the name of good policy outcomes.

As Sanford Levinson has argued for a long time the US constitution is not democratic.

Deneen again:

What requires more reflection are the deeper presuppositions of what constitutes “good policy” [of the sort consistently called upon by social scientists who study civic competence]. Good policy for the Founders and Progressives alike were policies that promoted the economic and political strength of the American republic and the attendant expansion of power in its private and public forms. For all their differences, what is strikingly similar about the thinkers of the Founding era and leading thinkers of the Progressive era were similar efforts to increase the “orbit” or scope of the national government concomitant with increases in the scale of the American economic order.

These patterns of similarity between The Progressives and The Founders (as well as Cold War Liberals and Conservatives) helps undercut arguments that the liberal (or progressive) are entirely foreign constructs. Particularly once Lincoln’s understanding of the republic/constitutional order becomes normative–over say a Calhoun’s.

I have to do some further thinking on this, but one thought that occurs to me is that a serious bug in Madison’s design was the assumption that there were ever dis-interested individuals. Charles Beard I think put that argument to bed in US history. The “corrosive political economics” of our age maybe attributable to this bug. The republican order does play off the intrinsic factionalism at the local level but among other things, with the failure of the Legislative Branch to be anything other than an attempt to get into The Executive these days and the politicization (on both sides liberal and conservative) of SCOTUS, we have a real problem. No one exists to check the factionalism at the federal level.

I think Deneen’s contribution is that (if I’m riffing correctly here) that this is not some European transplant from the left in the 20th century (a la Jonah Goldberg) but is there (at least in germinal form) from the get go.

Deneen’s analysis dovetails nicely with the book I’m currently reading Bounding Power: republican Security Theory from the Polis to the Global Village by Daniel Deudney. I’ve mentioned the book before, and I plan to do so more posts just on it, but a core argument of the text is that republican (little ‘r’) security theory goes through a series of emergent stages of development which are intertwined with material/technological contexts (i.e. it wasn’t just Marx would came up with this insight).

republics exist, for Deudney, between or perhaps bypassing the extremes of anarchy and hierarchy. [Hierarchy understood as domination not natural hierarchies, e.g. physiosphere to biosphere to noosphere].

The early republics–e.g. Sparta–were martial because they were fragile and vulnerable to attack. They either became too successful in war in which case they became imperial–see the shift of Greece from the Persian War to Alexander the Great’s Conquests or the evolution of the Roman republic to the Roman Empire–or they were unsuccessful and destroyed.

Madison feared democracy and (as Deneen points out) saw them as small scale state-level republics. See the failure of The Articles of Confederation. The creation of a federal republic which pushed up a complexified level of the “sphere of sovereignty” was a major achievement.

Deneen in the rest of his article argues for an alternate, localized, Aristotelian, more communitarian type notion of citizenship. That has its place to be sure I think, so long as we recall that (following Deudney’s insight) that frame was connected in part with technological-material constructs. We do not live in the plow and horse (or human chattel slavery) age. [Well sadly many do, but not in the contexts generally of people reading this blog]. In this technology age, any such micro-communities, need to be linked to each other through the internet, so the local and the global are not really particularly separate. In that sense, I wonder what education for republican order in a global age might look like? Deudney makes an argument for republican security theory applied to world setting (not a world government mind you) but I wonder what that would entail for those who are not part of that power holding class? De facto Deneenism? I need to think more on that one.

Skypecast: Foreign Policy into 2009 (Audio Content)

Scott and I discuss economics, the global political frame, and the future into 2009.  We begin by discussing a recent fairly grim post of mine (Happy New Year!!!) and then discuss potential creative ways out of the morass.

[Click the links below, pts1 & 2 for the audio.]



Thomas Barnett post
My apocalyptic post
James Poulos’ Uncrackables
John Robbforeign-policy1

Scott’s post/embedding of the audio (if you have trouble on mine)

Some Apocalyptic Thoughts for Monday Afternoon

Warning:  This is some very disturbing analysis.  I hope I’m 100% wrong on this one.  I’ve also thought the scenario I outline below was possible for 2009 but through the end of October/early November, I thought it still somewhat remote.  I’m less confident and increasingly pesimisstic about the potential for this scenario to be very real, very much in play (more and more likely by the day it seems as of now with no wise leadership or counter-movements to help block the momentum).  So be warned.  I’m not in the business of fear-peddling or fear-hyping, but these are dark thoughts.  There are not the only ones within my brain, but I have been appalled (even fairly cynical me) by the responses across the board to this crisis and the sense that there is no Wizard behind the curtain.

I’m increasingly growing very disturbed by the way global events are proceeding.  A chain of potential explosions across the grid of the globe looks frighteningly more plausible by the day.  Meanwhile the US media is caught in wonderful tales of some pathetic Illinois Governor and a dude launching his foot wear. Here in Canada it’s about the potential of a coalition government.

All of which still assume a top-down model of power, a kind of view of the stability of large scale social organization that may all be swept away.  Reading the newspapers and frankly much of the blogosphere is becoming an increasingly useless exercise for me.  Particularly when it comes to political discussion:  left, right, libertarian, progressive, blah blah.  All of those discussions are assuming the continued existence in some form or other or our social-technological cultural foundations.

To me its increasingly as if reading the news in the ancient ziggurat/city-state culture a few months before Alexander the Great came conquering across Eurasian and installed the Hellenistic world and swept away the decaying, crumbling previous world era.  Like I said some apocalyptic thoughts.

The economic story would go like this:  the American consumer is dead and has been flogged to the breaking point of exhaustion.  Who then is going to buy all those Asian products?  Who can they sell their wares to?  The Asian economies contract leading them to stop buying the commodities across the Global South (esp. Latin America and Africa) that have led to that bubble (see the mass decrease in the price of oil recently).  Huge deflationary movements across the global simultaneously.  Much more rapidly and the fragility (i.e. non-redundancy) of the global platform system bleeds out.

As Niall Ferguson in his epic The War of the World, the great catacylsm and spasm of violence across the globe emanating from Europe during the 20th century (First War, Second War, Cold War) consisted of the inter-locking reality of the three “E”s:  empire, economics, and ethnicity.  Empire being the death of imperial systems.  See the decline of the US.  Also with all the talk of the coming Asian Century (rise of India/China), this could all be swept away by the economic meltdown.  The Asian Century that wasn’t in other words.  Still-born Asian Century.  The vacuum created by the implosion of economic and imperial systems, is filled by ethnic hatreds that flare up to the consternation and shock of many who assume a cosmopolitan order of peace and security (all fine when the economy and governance is roughly holding up).

The most likely early hot spots of ethnic hatred is the band of the Middle East (Lebanon, Iraq, Kurdistan, Iran, Syria???, through obviously Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India).  Other increased zones of violence would be Gap-status countires in the Western Hempishere (on smaller scale but still bloody).  Revived narco-fueled wars across Colombia, Venezuela, Peru, Ecuador, El Salvador, southern Mexico.  Other ranges of violence: The Horn of Africa (another Somalia implosion on the horizon) as well as violence across the middle band (Chad, Sudan, Nigeria, and potential flare ups again in Congo).

The massive de-leveraging must continue and the question is only whether the end of the fall (which has at least 9 months, probably 12 to 24 to maybe even 36-40 to go. who the hell knows at this point) will end us worse than the build up.  Exposed, exhausted, and de-legitimized.  The space of de-legitimization to be filled by ethno-nationalistic movements across the board.

With the breakdown of nation-state systems (orange and blue in Spiral colors), comes a mass re-reddifying both in memetic coloring and potentially in real blood, merged with increased technological capacity (global platform) plus increased cognitive flexibility and complexity however merged to earlier moral/social systems. Roving bands of pirates (e.g. Somalia), terrorists (e.g. Mumbai), criminal networks (coming here already to Vancouver in preparation for the 2010 Olympics, particularly the global sex slavery/human chattel trade) counteracted by potentially increased technocratic elites holding onto whatever power they can, as civil libertiese erode due to the inability to come up with a worldwide republican security theory, class lines harden in the post-industrial societies, the social contract of the 20th century continues to break down (ask Ford, GM, Chrysler) as the Nation-State gives way to the (increainsgly predatory?) Market State.

Ferguson forget a fourth E:  Environment.  As in environmental degradation/destruction as a potential accelerant to the fire of the other three.  Something along the lines of Diamond’s Collapse scenario.

The idea that an infrastructure stimulus will jump start the US economy out of this bog seems increasingly detached from reality for me.  At the pace things are moving, if the wave swells become large enough, it isn’t going to matter, as it could all be swept away by the mega-forces aligning at the moment.

Like I said, God how I hope I’m  completely wrong on this one.

US Civics Quiz

Tyler Cowen points me to this American Civics Quiz.  I got 30 out of 33, which apparently makes me much more knowledgeable than most of our elected officials (on civics/US history anyway).

Published in: on November 24, 2008 at 11:46 am  Leave a Comment  

Exactly: John Cole on Obama

Nail head and hammer:

I swear to God the only people on the planet who have figured out that Obama is a rather mainstream moderate, center-left on some issues, center-right on others, but definitely not a wildly transformative character, are me and Daniel Larison. I seriously am beginning to think, reading some of the lefty blogs lately, that the only people who thought Obama was a radical liberal were the National Journal, a few talk radio hosts, and the progressive wing of the party. Obama has never once showed any inclination to up-end the establishment, he has consistently worked through the establishment. Harvard Law Review, anyone? Con. Law prof at the University of Chicago? This is not Ward Churchill we are talking about, folks…

Say what you want about the way his election was run, because that truly was transformative. Elections will never be the same after the campaign Team Obama ran. But if you really think Obama is a screeching liberal, you haven’t been paying attention and are going to be really upset. They guy is a technocratic pragmatist, he is cool and calculating and calm, and he shrewdly picks his battles. Folks like Larison, and, most definitely Bacevich, worry he is entirely too establishment. I think he is the best we have, so we go with him

I think there were a very others who figured it out (Andrew Sullivan, myself, Scott) but the point stands nonetheless–and Larison has been on the ball with that one for some time.

The lefter wing of the Democratic Party made the same basic mistake that David Freddoso in his book–to confuse Obama’s years as a very liberal Illinois State Senator (in a very liberal district) with how he will govern when he becomes president.  But that was because Obama works within the system he gets, and he represented a very liberal district, hence his views and policies were shaded in that direction.  But he is long since out of that world.  Since I don’t go totally for the Spenglerian Buchananite paleoconservativism, I also agree with Cole that I think BHO is the best we’ve got, so we go with it.   Though really far from perfect, but I actually have a sense of calm and trust in the fact that he looks serious about actually governing, that he will play the game. Remembering that the presidency is only one among a multitude of political players (no imperial presidency or cult for me thank you very much).

Update ICoates smelled the coffee too.

Published in: on November 21, 2008 at 8:36 pm  Comments (1)  
Tags: ,

Liberals Not Progressives

The always interesting Michael Lind has a piece out in Slate saying that the left should stop using the word progressive and return to calling themselves liberals (I agree).

He gives seven reasons for the switch (or rather return), a few of which really are key (my numbers don’t line up with his numbers).

1. Progressives has come to mean either:

A) The DLC centrist pro-corporate wing of the Democratic Party (neoliberals)
B) The radical left of the pre WWII era (more pro-Communist in other words)
C) The early progressives of the 20th century who for all their good in some areas were also deeply social conservative, authoritarian in places, technocratic, and often racist.

None of A,B, or C is really a good tradition going forward for a healthy left in the US.


Hubert Humphrey, liberal, championed integration and federal enforcement of civil rights. Woodrow Wilson, Progressive, resegregated Washington, D.C. The Warren Court liberalized abortion and censorship laws. The early 20th century Progressives campaigned to outlaw alcohol and outlaw abortion and many of them favored eugenic sterilization of the “feeble-minded.” New Deal liberals celebrated Americans of immigrant stock. Progressives like Woodrow Wilson and Theodore Roosevelt were horrified by “hyphenated Americans.” Roosevelt and Truman inherited a disturbing progressive fondness for executive prerogative but by the 1960s and 1970s civil libertarianism and a renewed interest in checks on the imperial presidency became part of the liberal tradition.

2. Progressive is too Prussian Germanic (and therefore militarized and worried about centralization of power as well as purity issues) growing out of an original vision that was Bismarckian not Lockean (i.e. classical liberalism) in nature.

3. Lastly the following:

Like “conservative,” “progressive” is a term associated with a particular view of history. The conservative wants to stand still or go back; the progressive wants to move forward. Progressivism implies a view of history as perpetual progress; conservatism, a view of history as decline from a better world in the past. Needless to say, nobody who actually thinks this way could function. In the real world, self-described progressives aren’t mindlessly in favor of everything new, just as self-described conservatives aren’t indiscriminately in favor of everything that’s old.

Unlike progressivism and conservatism, liberalism is not a name that implies a view that things are either getting better or getting worse. Liberalism is a theory of a social order based on individual civil liberties, private property, popular sovereignty and democratic republican government. Liberals believe that liberal society is the best kind, but they are not committed to believing in universal progress toward liberalism, much less universal progress in general. Many liberals have been skeptical about the idea of unlimited progress and have believed that a liberal society is difficult to establish and easily changed into a nonliberal society.

The upshot of which as Lind correctly points out is that liberals can be or have progressive ideas (contextually) as well as conservative ones.  Lind is making the argument (contra Jonah Goldberg) that the mid-century New Deal Liberals were just that liberals (not progressives primarily–though of course they did have some progressive goals, aims, and policies).

It would hopefully also allow liberals to not continue to act like they have to out hawk the neocons in order to look tough on foreign policy.

Update I:  For those interested, in integral politics according to Ken Wilber’s scheme this is the breakdown of the three meanings of liberal.
Liberal as:

I. Rights (which is the upper left quadrant)
II. Transformation from one worldview to the next (i.e. progressive)
III. Liberal as External (right-hand Quadrants) oriented. i.e. New Deal Social Liberals.

Integral Politics Presentation Monday Night


I’m leading a presentation on integral politics Monday night here in Vancouver, for any readers of the blog in the area. I hope to record the audio and post my Power Point slides sometime next week, depending on the quality of the recording.

For now, here is the information on the evening:

Integral Politics.

Politics according to Aristotle is the art of the polis.  Polis-things in other words.  The art of the possible, the art of compromise within the life of the polis (the city-state).  We will explore in depth the current transformation of humanity brought about by the mass migration of human beings from rural to urban life, the rise of technology, and politics in the global polis.  Integral thought provides a lens whereby to make increasing sense of and bring clarity to the complexity of our world.

We will explore the intersection of integral thought in the political events of our day.  Come prepared with questions on any topics you would like discussed–there will be a good amount of time for questions—for example the Canadian elections, US elections, War in Afghanistan, Economic Crisis, Terrorism, and/or more local concerns.

If people are interested, Integral Life has put out a short but helpful video introduction to politics through Ken Wilber’s AQAL system on their website.  I recommend it, but it is not required–fear not there will be no quiz!!!!

The link to the video is here.




  • Dialogue
  • Learning
  • Networking

An Exploration of Integral Framework & How It Can Change Your Life

Doors Open at 7:15, Event Begins at 7:30

Suite 100, Main Floor, 2245 West Broadway, Vancouver (between Vine & Yew)

[Image Courtesy Steve Self via Flickr, CC License].

Election Post-Mortem (+ Ayers Interview)

Our media is so poor, so dumb, so ignorant, so insanely out of it, that they make Bill Ayers look like the sane guy in the room. Jebus.

Now if you watch this thing it’s clear that Ayers is still a radical, a Boomer radical, i.e. a tenured professor radical who isn’t really getting his hands dirty or is that hardcore nowadays. He’s pretty pathetic in my mind.  He only sees the evil of the Vietnam War but not of the Weathermen.  That’s straight up crazy and disgusting in my view, but he’s up front about it, so you can’t fault the guy for lying or hiding something.

But there’s nothing else to it.  Those are his views and we learn yet again (for anyone who had a brain) that there was no secret relationship between Ayers and Obama. And this is the really bizarre part of this whole thing, I’ve never grasped.  If you listen to the discussion (particularly the first couple minutes) a couple of things are clear:

Then State Senator Alice Palmer asked Ayers to host a coffee in his host which he did as he later says WITHOUT HAVING MET Obama.  i.e. What is clear is that this is local machine party politics and he knew the State Senator, was a support of the Democrats in the area, never met the guy, and held a little thing for him.  Obviously Obama is a young guy and is just following along the machine.

The key line is “I knew about as well as thousands of other Chicagoans. (my emphasis).”

The notion about Ayers describing himself as a “family friend” which the interviewer (Chris Cuomo) not being able to read English I suppose can’t understand (after having it explained to him)  refers to a word used in Ayers’ new afterword to his book (don’t think Billy isn’t cashing in on this).  Ayers clearly explains “family friend” is how OTHER people (“the blogosphere” in his words) characterized the relationship.  i.e. NOT HIS OWN CHARACTERIZATION.  Not how he Ayers would define the connection (nor of course Obama).  Ayers says the relationship was Professional and Public.

i.e. Professional meaning not about Ayers’ views–since Obama was there to work on a board with him and a whole mess of other people and Obama has shown no inkling to being drawn to the radical-militancy of an Ayers.  And PUBLIC meaning not about secret meetings (i.e. they were public).  Not friends.  Not mentor.  Not influence.  Nada.

Which is exactly what Obama said all along.  Wow.  No, it can’t be.  There must be some hidden secret agenda.  Somebody tell Sarah Palin.

This again goes back to the strange decision the right had to go the David Freddoso line of attack or the Jerome Corsi conspiracy mongering line.  What you could criticize in this whole thing if you were a Republican/conservative is that it clearly shows that Obama was a Chicago-Democratic machine city pol.  That is the Freddoso line of attack.  But it was clear by this past summer, certainly after Clinton failed to make any hay on Ayers and/or Rezko in the Dem primary that such a line wasn’t going to be enough.  So out came the Corsi conspiracy stuff.  The dark suspicions and all the rest.  Obama couldn’t say anymore because there wasn’t anymore to say, and if he made something up to as it were Come Clean, then he would have been retroactively accused of lying.  And since there wasn’t actually anything else to say, then it was perfectly fertile ground for fetid projections from the wingnuts.

I’m sure glad all that time was spent on this oh so important issue.  I mean anybody who follows politics knows how this works.  An eager beaver like Obama is not going to spend capital in his early days of climbing the ladder on some wacko like Ayers who has been accepted back into the left-wing Dem circles of Chicago.  The issue for the purity patrol types is that he didn’t stand up and refuse contact with him, so that he (Obama) wouldn’t get contaminated on the patriotic front.  But here I think Ayers’ point about the desipcable nature of actions during the Vietnam War has a partial validity.  Namely God knows any Republican candidate has associations in the past (particularly in the Military Industrial Complex, hello McCain) that have violence in their past.  Welcome to America people.  The real issue is not the violence per se, it’s the radical side to Ayers.  It’s that he criticized the government that sends some folks into a lather.  If it was violence that was the issue (or generaly wingnuttery, hello conservative movement) there’s enough of that to go around.

What the McCain Campaign and assorted elements on the right in the campaign did that I could never understand was not grasp that Obama wasn’t that kinda liberal.  He moved through those circles, he had to play the game.  He had to move up the ranks through that world.  No doubt about that fact.  But the guy is like a super-America lover.  It’s a love based in a certain vision of what America represents.

That is to quote Obama:

“It was a Creed written into the Founding Documents, Yes We Can.”

That’s definitely one view of the Founding Documents or the reason to love America.  There are others.  Some that could help balance out the blindspots in Obama’s vision of America.  e.g. Maybe the Founding Documents were written because “NO WE CAN’T.”

NO WE CAN’T as a people be trusted except under the rule of law (see Bush and Torture).  NO WE CAN’T rely on democratic procedures alone to protect civil rights (see California and Prop 8’s failure).

But that aside this guy wasn’t Dukakkis or Gore or Kerry.  Much less Jesse Jackson or Al Sharpton.  The GOP embraced that argument at the cost of some serious long term peril for the party.  [I think they were bound to lose anyway, but they could have lost without appearing so F’in Insane].

The Sarah Palin-ites of the right wing had been sold those lines for years as a sorta cynical ploy by the elite in the GOP, except they believe it and have called the upper crusts on it and have in many ways relativized them.  [Goodbye Northeast to GOP].  Palin and likeminded individuals didn’t get the memo that it was a kinda wink-wink nudge nudge line of attack.  They want their pound of political flesh for those who are politically impure, presidential or otherwise.  And so the GOP sinks further into bat shit insanity.  Leaving us with the pathetic Democratic Party and the even worse whiny/bitchy sides of the progressive blogosphere (bleh and double bleh).

Fortunately yours truly has always been impressed that Obama has a history of dealing with and at times playing the left (see above), so I take some comfort in the fact that I voted for the guy principally because I trusted his instincts, not because he was going to heal the planet or whatever crap he had to say to get elected and get a bunch of looney self-impressed folk to sing songs or cry or think the universe is heading up in light because of his ASCENSION no less to power.  [Hint: By linking to the Ascension of Jesus I’m mocking all this; I don’t secretly think Obama is the Second Coming or for his Jewish devotees I suppose The First Coming]. Since he know has to deal with the nutty left, his background has served him well in that regard.

Published in: on November 14, 2008 at 6:45 pm  Comments (1)  
Tags: , , ,

GOP/Conservative Narrative

Scott has an excellent post on the need for conservatives to come up with narrative.

SP writes:

The question that conservatives and Republicans need to be asking themselves, if, indeed, conservatives and Republicans are asking themselves the same questions at all, which isn’t at all clear, is not who to run in 2012, what element of conservatism to display most prominently, how to tinker around the edges of the ideology to make it more palatable, or even how to overhaul the ideology altogether. It is the rather simple, yet vexing question, “Why should people be excited about conservatism and the Republican party?”

Scott links to a post of mine which outlines the work of poli scientist Drew Westen. Quick review of the five most important things on winning an election.

1. Party image (narrative in Scott’s term), a sense of identity to the cause
2. Personal Qualities of Leader of Party (ability to connect to people emotionally)
3. “Gut” Qualities of Leader (can they trust you, cool under pressure, appear disciplined, etc.)
4. Policy Proposals
5. Facts about Policy Proposals

As Scott points out questions about who should lead the party are out there (#2/#3) and policy frames for a renewed conservatism (#4 & #5) but #1 is missing.  I’m glad people are working on #4 and #5 so that some good could be done (hopefully) through better policy ideas and proposals, but it will be all for naught unless connected to the first point.

What I’m not sure is how they get started on #1.  I imagine the purges have to continue for a pace.  The point Lind was making is that for conservatism historically to gain a footing long-term politically requires the other side to have it for a bit and (eventually) corrupt and screw it up.

It’s also why I keep pointing to this idea (both in Poulos and Sullivan in different ways) that conservatism is a sorta un-philosophy and the idea of a conservative movement might be an oxymoron.

That’s not to say that the Dems might screw up their moment and the Republicans could well make partial inroads in the Congressional midterm elections.  But #1 is a biggie.  And if things go the way they might, then Chait has the line on where that is headed:

I have seen the future of the Republican Party, and it is the present of the Republican Party. Only perhaps more so.

Update I: Bonus anti-Palin Chait:

The enthusiasm generated by Palin shows that the party intends, wittingly or not, to replicate not just Bush’s policies but his whole operating style. She is the most Bush-like figure conceivable. Jeb Bush would be a far more dramatic departure from the incumbent than her. Her utter lack of interest in policy, her obsession with certitude (“you can’t blink, you have to be wired in a way of being so committed to the mission”), her folksiness masking incoherence–all reflect the style of The Decider. The way Palin filled her government with grossly unqualified high school cronies eerily apes even the Bushian qualities that many conservatives have come to regret.

Published in: on November 9, 2008 at 1:57 pm  Leave a Comment  
Tags: ,