Thursday, September 17, 2015

After the Debate: Obama's Gift

OK, so I actually watched most of the CNN debate. And I wish that the candidates had tried the "Democratic operatives with bylines" gambit. On at least abortion. As in: "hey Jake and Dana, how many minutes has CNN devoted to the Planned Parenthood videos? And when you propose to cover this important, possibly criminal issue?"

And yes, I liked Carly and Marco and maybe Chris and Ted. And I liked that the candidates did not really pick up the invitation from CNN to fight among themselves.

But here I want to shake a finger at the media types that don't like the issue-free nature of the Trump campaign. I was getting it yesterday from Michael Medved on his radio show. And then there is the Wall Street Journal talking about The Joy of Madness of the voters.

I come back to Joseph Schumpeter in Capitalism, Socialism, and Democracy. There can be no such thing as democracy, he writes, in the sense of the people actually ruling.
Democracy means only that the people have the opportunity if accepting or refusing the men who are to rule them.
That definition explains a lot. It explains why political campaigns are typically fought over one-and-a-half rather inconsequential issues. Or indeed basically over two questions: "four more years" or "time for a change."

In this context it seems perfectly ordinary that we should have a candidate like Donald Trump whose campaign has much of the flavor of a TV reality show. The voters are saying "screw you!" Which is perfectly natural and physical.

It is appropriate that voters should act like cornered rats from time to time. When you are cornered, the sensible thing to do is to lash out, in the hope that you will change the situation. That is entirely sensible and practical if you are otherwise screwed. And the fact is that, ever since the start of the agricultural age, humans have been "caged" by the fact that without the benefit of society life would be "solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short."

The Journal knows who is to blame for all this in their "madness" piece.
Barack Obama is fundamentally apolitical... Doing politics, left or right, isn't his thing... You think you're mad? Talk to members of Congress, Republican or Democrat, and you will discover people also driven nuts by the virtual impossibility over two presidential terms of practicing normal politics.
And Michael Barone too:
In 2008 Obama promised he would "fundamentally transform" America, and Obamacare and the Iran deal are indeed fundamental transformations of policy --transformations most Americans oppose...

And so a president who came to office with relatively little experience has managed to tarnish experience, incumbency and institutions: a fundamental transformation indeed.
The truth is, though, that the "fundamental transformation" that conservatives want is only likely to come when ordinary ruling class politics is seen to fail.

And that seems to be the reason for the madness of the moment. Voters are coming to see that their lordly ruling class has got them in a box. And they don't like it. The only thing to do, the rational thing, is to stir the soup, and hope that something good comes up from the bottom of the pot.

And so the bottom line is that President Obama is the gift that keeps on giving. He has done what seemed unthinkable. He has brought the legitimacy of the established ruling class into question.

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