Thursday, January 5, 2012

Obama Deepens the Divide

The Gang of 14 that tried to compromise the Democratic filibustering of judges during the Bush administration had a reason for their fudge.  They knew that the "nuclear option" of demanding an up or down vote on judges would deepen the red-blue divide.  It would make Democratic supporters mad.

Politicians are famous for avoiding tough decisions; they know that people on the wrong side of a tough decision appear in force at the next election.  Politicians want their supporters to be energized and raring to vote.  They want the opposition to be divided and demoralized.

So when President Obama does a recess appointment of Richard Cordray as chief of the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and three recess appointments on the National Labor Relations Board when Congress technically isn't in recess he is asking for a fight.  He is sharpening the red-blue divide in America.

When Republicans do this sort of thing the mainstream media regards it as outrageously "divisive."

I'm not anxious to argue the constitutionality of the president's actions.  Clearly the Republicans are playing games and using technical gimmicks to avoid a formal "recess."

My concern is something bigger.  It comes from my definition of "government is force, and politics is talking about force."  Or you could say that politics is civil war by other means.  On this understanding of politics and government you have in your mind all the time the fact that any winner on any issue in politics is winning a fight, not persuading the losers about an argument.  That is why politicians usually try to pass big issues with a "bipartisan majority."  They want to create the atmospherics of consensus, that everybody got something to take home with them.

The great achievements of the Obama administration have mostly been raw partisan victories: stimulus, ObamaCare, Dodd-Frank.  In addition the Obama victories have been expressions of the pure liberal approach to politics, that almost everything could and should be a bureaucratically administered program of regulation.  Thus there is almost nothing in the Obama achievements that conservatives have participated in and have supported.  Conservatives believe that government programs and regulations are wasteful at best and usually end up as a corrupt banquet of the special interests.

There was another time in our history when the nation was profoundly divided about its future and when each side used every trick in the book to get one-up on the opposition.  It was the 1850s in the run-up to the Civil War.

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