I'm No Obama Fan Boy

I've got plenty of complaints about what he's done since he's been in office -- although, as I said to my friends who knew him back from the day in the Chicago hood, I don't expect we could have hoped for better, given the state of our polity -- but it really disturbs me to see the lengths to which many "conservatives" will distort reality in order to discredit Obama.

For instance, the "meme" that Obama uses the word "I" more than any previous president has been thoroughly debunked, by simple computer analysis, over at the Language Log many times now. And yet, even a columnist of the stature of George Will (whom I usually expect to be at least a little better that the Fox News miscreants), continues to repeat it. Has the entire "right" totally lost their minds over Obama?

The possibility leaves me with mixed feelings: On the one hand, if even such a moderate rightist like Will has so lost touch with reality as to have no concern about whether his attacks on our president have any basis in reality, Obama will certainly win re-election this fall. Given the alternative, that is for the best. On the other hand, a political system like ours depends, for what health it still possesses, on having two at-least-somewhat-sensible parties competing for power. Now, I don't think this system has been working particularly well for some time -- consider that, in 2004, 51% of the American electorate thought the Iraq War was a mistake, but nevertheless they were given the "choice" between two candidates who both wanted to continue that war -- but if the GOP is now so far gone that even George Will cannot be bothered with the least bit of fact-checking in his attempts to smear the "other side," then we are in serious danger of becoming a one-party nation. Will's blithe acceptance of this rubbish would seem to confirm Brad DeLong's position, which is that today's GOP is so awful that it would be best if it just vanished, but... if it did so, is there realistically any other possible coalition that could take its place in the role of the "opposition" party? And if the Democrats come to rule without any viable opposition, then how will the tendency towards authoritarianism and corruption that has typically been exhibited by any unopposed ruling party be held in check?


  1. Show a little faith in the marketplace of ideas! If the Elephants go extinct, they will be replaced sooner or later, and the replacement will have to build loyalty from scratch instead of relying on genetic predispositions. There will still be votes to be had by not being a Donkey, unfortunately, but I don't think there will be as many. There's enough data gathering capability to figure out what it will take to get people to vote for a new party.

    But what if the destruction of the GOP led to a renewal of anti-federalism? If whole regions came to believe that there was no possibility of the USG representing them, might it lead to a rediscovery of some principle, and a reassertion of independence? The states are sufficiently polarized that, while a little far-fetched, it doesn't seem insane to me.

  2. I tend to view the destruction of the two party system as a good thing- or at least a potentially good thing, since destabilization of the current regime means a chance for a change to something better. What these attacks against Obama really signify is that the GOP knows it's rank and file aren't going to come out for their presumptive nominee. They have to demonize Obama- and some of the pro-life people I follow will no doubt dump more pictures of dead fetuses into my feed reader- to get people to vote based on pure emotion.
    The agreements between the GOP and the democrats supposedly keep a lot of other parties from becoming contenders, and I would certainly be content to see whether or not various other parties could break in. Even within the GOP, there are plenty of career politicians who may find incentive to actually do something. The Woods plan of nullifying, for instance- we need governors and the like to do that, which means we need politicians who are willing to risk. If they see the chance of advancement via this political theater end, maybe they'll start implementing the 10th amendment rather than just talking about it.

  3. I reckon that if the Republican Party ceased to exist, the Democratic Party would be free to fragment, and instead of being a coalition of various groups, it would disperse into an opposition between those groups.

    I imagine that Adult Democrats such as Obama, Emmanuel, Pelosi, and Reed will form one group, and Progressive Democrats such as Alan Grayson and Dennis Kucinich will form another.

    1. A much more likely and depressing scenario, I'll admit. And within a generation the descendants of Fox News watchers will be yelling about how electing the descendants of Obama and Reed is the most important thing in history...


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