Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Impossible Gridlock or Impossible Ideologues

For liberal Froma Harrop, the problem is the non-negotiable Tea Partiers.
The tea party movement has become the dead bad-luck bird hanging around the GOP establishment's neck. Its anger-fueled energy has forced moderate Republicans off ballots in places where moderates tend to win. It has burdened otherwise centrist Republicans with radical positions that don't go well with a general electorate. The Grand Old Party is being taken over by an ideological fringe with unclear motives, a loose grasp on reality and little interest in actually governing.
But for conservative Michael Walsh the truth is a mirror image.  Even if Romney wins in November, Republicans are still pushing upstream against the progressive tide.
They know from history that American counter-revolutions never really restore the status quo ante, and that “progressive” ideas are nearly impossible to root out, especially with the media blocking for them. And they know their unfireable, beetling minions in the judiciary and the regulatory agencies aren’t going anywhere soon, no matter who wins.
Notice the contrast.  Froma Harrop says that the impossible Tea Partiers will never amount to anything because they won't compromise.  Walsh says the Republican revolution will never work because they will never get the power to dislodge the immovable liberal bureaucracy.

On the other hand, at The Atlantic Philip K. Howard writes that the problem is the partisan stalemate. Nothing can be done because "we," conservative or liberal, cannot upset "our" base, the people we have mobilized to fight to the death for our party.
American government is a deviant subculture. Its leaders stand on soapboxes and polarize the public by pointing fingers while secretly doing the bidding of special interests. Many public employees plod through life with their noses in rule books, indifferent to the actual needs of the public and unaccountable to anyone. The professionals who interact with government -- lawyers and lobbyists -- make sure every issue is viewed through the blinders of a particular interest, not through the broader lens of the common good. Government is almost completely isolated from the public it supposedly serves.
Well, all I can say to all that is good old Stein's Law.  If something cannot go on forever, it will stop.  In my view we are in a Clausewitzean decisive battle.  There is no doubt that the liberal welfare state cannot go on forever.  It has promised benefits way beyond what the economy can deliver.

So there is a choice.  It is the choice is between Argentina or civil society.  Do we go on, like Argentina, from devaluation to easy money to crisis to devaluation, with a corrosive populist politics that claims to want to squeeze the rich like sponges, but actually keeps the working class in feudal bondage and serves the crony capitalists?  Or do we change course,  back out the big government programs and replace them with a revived civil society?

I would that the United States would not go the way of Argentina.

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