Quotulatiousness

February 6, 2016

The most likely explanation for politicians doing what they do

Filed under: Economics, Government, Politics — Tags: — Nicholas @ 03:00

In his weekly column for USA Today, Glenn Reynolds distills down the essence of public choice theory:

The explanation for why politicians don’t do all sorts of reasonable-sounding things usually boils down to “insufficient opportunities for graft.” And, conversely, the reason why politicians choose to do many of the things that they do is … you guessed it, sufficient opportunities for graft.

That graft may come in the form of bags of cash, or shady real-estate deals, or “consulting” gigs for a brother-in-law or child, but it may also come in broader terms of political support and even in opportunities for politicians to feel superior or to humiliate their enemies. What all these things have in common, though, is that they’re not about making life better for voters. They’re about making life better for politicians.

This doesn’t sound much like the traditional view of politics, as embodied in, say, the Schoolhouse RockI’m Just A Bill” video. But it’s a view of politics that explains an awful lot.

And there’s a whole field of economics based on this view, called “Public Choice Economics.” Nobel prize winning economist James Buchanan referred to public choice economics as “politics without romance.” Instead of being selfless civil servants motivated solely by the public good, public choice economics assumes that politicians are, like other human beings, heavily influenced by self-interest.

Public choice economists say that groups don’t make decisions, individuals do. And individuals mostly do what they think will be best for them, not for the “public.” Public choices, thus, are like private choices. You pick a car because it’s the best car for you that you can afford. Politicians pick policies because they’re the best policies — for them — that they can achieve.

How do they get away with this? First, most voters are “rationally ignorant.” That is, they realize that their vote isn’t likely to make much of a difference, so it’s not rational to learn all the ins and outs of policy or of what political leaders are doing. Second, the entire system is designed — by politicians, naturally — to make it harder for voters to keep track of what politicians are doing. The people who have a bigger stake in things — the real estate developers or construction unions — have an incentive to keep track of things, and to influence them, that ordinary voters don’t.

Can we eliminate this problem? Nope. But we can make it worse, or better. The more the government does and the more decisions that are relegated to bureaucrats, “guidance” and other forms of decisionmaking that are far from the public eye, the more freedom politicians have to pursue their own interest at the expense of the public — all while, of course, claiming to do just the opposite. Meanwhile, if we do the opposite — give the government less power and demand more accountability — politicians can get away with less. But they’ll always get away with as much as they can.

QotD: The addict’s political worldview

Filed under: Britain, Economics, Politics, Quotations — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 01:00

Writing about those rioters who in the summer of 2011 smashed, burned and looted shops across Britain, [Russell] Brand writes that their actions were no worse than the consumerism which he describes as having been “imposed” upon them. And this, I cannot help thinking, is an especially revealing phrase — entirely at one with a popular world view. That view sees “us” as poor victims of forces and temptations which are not only pushed upon us, but to which, when they are pushed upon us long enough, we will inevitably and necessarily succumb. If you are in a “consumerist” society long enough how could you be expected to just not buy crap you can’t afford when you don’t need it? No — the answer must be that of course you will succumb. And from there any bad behaviour — even looting and burning — will be excused because it will be someone else’s fault.

This is the world view of an addict. And the answer to all our society’s problems of the addict Brand is one answer which some addicts seek for their addiction — which is that everyone is to be blamed for their failings except themselves. Grand conspiracy theories and establishment plots offer great promise and comfort to such people. They suggest that when we fail or when we fall we do so never because of any conceivable failing or inability of our own, but because some bastard — any bastard — made us do it, has been planning to do it and perhaps always intended to do so. Of course the one thing missing in all this — the one thing that doesn’t appear in either of these books or in any of their conspiratorial and confused demagogic world view — is the only thing which has saved anyone in the past and the only thing which will save anybody in the future: not perfect societies, perfectly engineered economies and perfectly equal, flattened-out collective-based societies, but human agency alone.

Douglas Murray, “Don’t Listen to Britain’s Designer Demagogues”, Standpoint, 2015-01.

February 4, 2016

QotD: How to use your vote correctly

Filed under: Liberty, Politics, Quotations — Tags: — Nicholas @ 01:00

I won’t advise you on whether or not to vote. Libertarians are split pretty evenly between “Don’t vote, you are just giving authoritarianism your blessing”, “Vote Libertarian because it is a useful protest and message”, and “Vote for the major party candidate who has a hope of getting elected who is least bad.” I will leave parsing all that to you.

However, if you do vote, I have one bit of advice I always give on propositions: Your default vote for any proposition (as it should be for legislators) should be “no”. If its purpose is unclear, if you are not sure of the full implications, if you don’t know how it is funded, if you haven’t thought about unintended consequences, if you haven’t heard the pitch from both the ‘yes’ and ‘no’ camps — then vote no. Also beware that many Propositions that seem outwardly liberty-enhancing are actually Trojan Horses meant to be the opposite. Vote yes only if you have thought through all this and you are comfortable the new law would have a net positive benefit.

Warren Meyer, “Voting Advice”, Coyote Blog, 2014-11-03.

February 1, 2016

QotD: The usefulness of political polling

Filed under: Cancon, Media, Politics, Quotations — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 01:00

Ten months before an election we have conjecture and nothing more. Pierre Trudeau was a political corpse 10 months before the 1980 election. Remember who won? The electorate has to be whipped, beaten and prodded to give a damn about politics even during the writ period. Had the pollster asked if Daffy Duck or Justin Trudeau should be the next Prime Minister, there’s a fair chance the media would be talking about whether a cartoon with a speech impediment can lead Canada. Oh wait.

Richard Anderson, “I Dream of Coalition Governments”, The Gods of the Copybook Headings, 2014-12-19.

January 31, 2016

The odd role of Iowa in the 2016 election

Filed under: Politics, USA — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 02:00

Colby Cosh on the notion that the “typical state” of Iowa is being weirded by its unusual prominence every four years in the election cycle:

Iowa’s prominent place in the party primary system is often justified on the grounds that it is a highly typical U.S. state, a perfect measurement sample of middle American values. (No one ever works the word “white” in there when discussing Iowa or its partner, New Hampshire. That part is left implicit, just like the extra political power our Senate gives to the paler Canadian provinces.) But every student of physics knows that the act of measurement influences the experiment, and one can’t help suspecting that Iowa’s position in the American political process may actually be making the state weirder.

If you have watched the Iowa caucuses unfold live on C-Span, you know they reward fervour as much as organizational ability. A few people with fringe beliefs and free time may count for as much as a hundred names on a mailing list. As Santorum and Huckabee remind us, right-wing candidates who shrivel like vampires in the sun of other states often do well in Iowa.

Steve Forbes ran a very strong second there to G.W. Bush in 2000; the downright bizarre Alan Keyes finished third. Pat Robertson took 25 per cent of the votes in ’88. Ron Paul, outsider of outsiders, finished a bare smidgen behind Santorum. That bodes well for Donald Trump (and it offers hope to Ron Paul’s son Rand, who barely qualified for the main Fox News debate but brought the loudest following to the hall).

And on the “Trump as mass hypnotist” theme promulgated by Scott Adams:

It’s a strange election season, all right. Scott Adams, best known as the creator of Dilbert, has carved out a niche on his weblog as the leading expositor of Trumpian strategy. Adams believes Trump is literally hypnotizing the American public, using an arcana of powerful persuasion methods. The cartoonist disavows any claim to support Trump per se, but he has remained bullish even as other commentators predicted disaster after every grandiose halfwittery or scornful bon (?) mot.

Adams’ Trump-as-Master-Persuader schtick is becoming tacitly influential, I think, among chastened journalists who thought Trump would crash months ago. When the revered psephologist Nate Silver did a dramatic U-turn last week and admitted that he had harmed his prophetic bona fides by underestimating Trump, one could not help thinking of it as a surrender — could not help envisioning the sudden cinematic crumbling of a mighty fortification built out of Excel spreadsheets and wishful thinking. Silver almost seemed … relieved.

The problem with Adams’ analysis is that he never gets too specific about what Trump’s secret techniques actually are. In practice it seems to boil down to “Develop the conviction that you are a winner, whatever the evidence actually suggests, and pour that conviction into every word, gesture, and manoeuvre.”

That certainly accounts for much of Trump’s appeal to the American public. (As George S. Patton said, Americans love a winner.) Trump also infuriates the “right” people, and that will automatically attract a certain following. He has a starry-eyed following among neo-fascists and conspiracy theorists of various flavours, who would never otherwise venerate a billionaire advocate of single-payer medicare and corporate bailouts. They like him for explosively expanding the possibilities for what can be said out loud in politics.

A while back, it was becoming generally acknowledged that Trump had managed the unusual trick of moving the Overton Window well to the right. It’s probably now safe to say that he’s actually blown a huge hole in the wall where that window used to be: like it or hate it, a much wider range of topics are open for discussion than in any election campaign in generations.

January 30, 2016

The vast chasm between Trump supporters and the “conservative establishment”

Filed under: Politics, USA — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 03:00

In Politico, Tucker Carlson explains why the conservative establishment so badly misjudged the folks who are now vociferously supporting The Donald:

Consider the conservative nonprofit establishment, which seems to employ most right-of-center adults in Washington. Over the past 40 years, how much donated money have all those think tanks and foundations consumed? Billions, certainly. (Someone better at math and less prone to melancholy should probably figure out the precise number.) Has America become more conservative over that same period? Come on. Most of that cash went to self-perpetuation: Salaries, bonuses, retirement funds, medical, dental, lunches, car services, leases on high-end office space, retreats in Mexico, more fundraising. Unless you were the direct beneficiary of any of that, you’d have to consider it wasted.

Pretty embarrassing. And yet they’re not embarrassed. Many of those same overpaid, underperforming tax-exempt sinecure-holders are now demanding that Trump be stopped. Why? Because, as his critics have noted in a rising chorus of hysteria, Trump represents “an existential threat to conservatism.”

Let that sink in. Conservative voters are being scolded for supporting a candidate they consider conservative because it would be bad for conservatism? And by the way, the people doing the scolding? They’re the ones who’ve been advocating for open borders, and nation-building in countries whose populations hate us, and trade deals that eliminated jobs while enriching their donors, all while implicitly mocking the base for its worries about abortion and gay marriage and the pace of demographic change. Now they’re telling their voters to shut up and obey, and if they don’t, they’re liberal.

It turns out the GOP wasn’t simply out of touch with its voters; the party had no idea who its voters were or what they believed. For decades, party leaders and intellectuals imagined that most Republicans were broadly libertarian on economics and basically neoconservative on foreign policy. That may sound absurd now, after Trump has attacked nearly the entire Republican catechism (he savaged the Iraq War and hedge fund managers in the same debate) and been greatly rewarded for it, but that was the assumption the GOP brain trust operated under. They had no way of knowing otherwise. The only Republicans they talked to read the Wall Street Journal too.

On immigration policy, party elders were caught completely by surprise. Even canny operators like Ted Cruz didn’t appreciate the depth of voter anger on the subject. And why would they? If you live in an affluent ZIP code, it’s hard to see a downside to mass low-wage immigration. Your kids don’t go to public school. You don’t take the bus or use the emergency room for health care. No immigrant is competing for your job. (The day Hondurans start getting hired as green energy lobbyists is the day my neighbors become nativists.) Plus, you get cheap servants, and get to feel welcoming and virtuous while paying them less per hour than your kids make at a summer job on Nantucket. It’s all good.

Apart from his line about Mexican rapists early in the campaign, Trump hasn’t said anything especially shocking about immigration. Control the border, deport lawbreakers, try not to admit violent criminals — these are the ravings of a Nazi? This is the “ghost of George Wallace” that a Politico piece described last August? A lot of Republican leaders think so. No wonder their voters are rebelling.

January 28, 2016

It’s the new Republican way of politics: “Calling your own base a bunch of stupid hicks is not good strategy”

Filed under: Politics, USA — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 02:00

At Ace of Spades H.Q., Monty responds to what he calls a “feculent little bolus” of a political story:

May God save us all from the scourge of unintellectualism! It’s almost like these rubes don’t appreciate the unparalleled record of cultural and policy triumphs the GOP has accrued over the past two decades!

So…yeah. They really do think we’re stupid. Their Delphic prophecies and magisterial command of political philosophy flies right over our thick ape-like craniums. Their brilliance is wasted on us, and they would like nothing better than to trade us in for a smarter (or at least more pliable, and certainly less white and male) base. Alas, they need our votes for the foreseeable future, so they must bottle up their contempt as best they can and lie to us through fake smiles. But the bitterness and contempt is seeping through the facade, as it always does.

Calling your own base a bunch of stupid hicks is not good strategy (not to mention petty and rude) if you want them to vote for you or your preferred candidates. Mainly because the so-called “intellectuals” who have been driving GOP policy for the past two decades have done a spectacularly shitty job of it. If I’m forced to choose between the lumpenproles and the think-tank eggheads, I’ll throw my lot in with the peasants. They’re a lot smarter than the sneering elites give them credit for, and they don’t sit around all day inhaling their own ass-waft.

If the GOP brain-trust was arguing from a baseline of stellar success and policy wins, it’d be different. But the post-Reagan era has been an utter catastrophe in terms of actual conservative policy, and on all fronts: cultural, economic, foreign-policy, tax policy, you name it. The arrogance of these pissants is pretty rich, given their two-decade run of fecklessness and failure.

January 25, 2016

The Davos Men

Filed under: Cancon, Media, Politics — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 03:00

In the Globe and Mail, Margaret Wente explains why the great and the good at Davos are worried about the lumpenproles back home:

Forget APEC and the G20. Forget the climate-change summit. If you belong to the global elite, the only place that really counts is Davos – the yearly schmoozefest where central bankers and celebrities meet to network and exchange Big Thoughts. Where else can you party with both George Soros and Leonardo DiCaprio? When they invite you to Davos, you know you’ve arrived.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has arrived. This year he shared top billing with Mr. DiCaprio, the activist actor who has been nominated for an Oscar for being mauled by a bear. Everybody wants to get a load of the hottest star in politics. Besides, they need a break from the relentless doom and gloom.

[…]

But Davos Men aren’t like the rest of us. As Chrystia Freeland so memorably wrote in a famous 2011 piece in The Atlantic, they live increasingly in a world apart, “a transglobal community of peers who have more in common with” each other than with the folks back home. They live in gated communities and send their kids to private school. “The real community life of the 21st-century plutocracy occurs on the international conference circuit,” she wrote.

[…]

The gathering at the Swiss ski resort is as close as you can get to a pure meritocracy. All the people at Davos are the smartest people in the room. Like Mr. Trudeau, they are forward-looking and postnational. They believe that nationalist sentiment is a defect of the bitter clingers, who don’t understand that diversity (despite Cologne) is good for them. Unlike the bitter clingers, they are personally untouched by the seismic shifts underfoot. They’re on the winning side of change. Every year their lives get better and better.

But now, the bitter clingers are rising up, pitchforks at the ready. They are rallying behind Donald Trump – Trump! – in a massive rejection of every value a Davos Man holds dear. They’re convinced the elites have failed them. They blame the elites for the disruptions of globalization and technology that have stolen their jobs and their children’s futures.

They will never work at Google. And they’re mad as hell. They’ve lost all trust in the business and political and intellectual and celebrity class, jetting to their conferences 60,000 feet in the air. That includes the folks in Davos – the smartest people in the world, with no idea what to do.

Virtue signaling

Filed under: Media, Politics — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 02:00

At Acculturated, Mark Judge outlines one of the more irritating ways that the “great and the good” show how much better they are than us uncultured, boorish masses:

British author James Bartholomew has secured his place in history. Recently, he invented the perfect phrase for our times: “virtue signaling.”

Virtue signaling is the popular modern habit of indicating that one has virtue merely by expressing disgust or favor for certain political ideas, cultural happenings, or even the weather. When a liberal goes on a tirade about how dumb and dangerous Senator and Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz is — a tirade devoid of specific examples of Cruz’s mendacity — that person is actually signaling to others that he or she is virtuous. It has very little to do with Cruz’s actually personality or record.

Celebrities who publicly express panic about the environment without knowing much about science are virtue signaling. So are those who seize on current events to publicize their supposedly virtuous feelings, as Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg did recently when he wrote on Facebook: “If you’re a Muslim in this community, as the leader of Facebook I want you to know that you are always welcome here and that we will fight to protect your rights and create a peaceful and safe environment for you.” Well, that’s a relief—Facebook won’t be banning Muslims.

[…]

The New Left of the 1960s was more about rage than reason, and they passed their anger down to their Millennial offspring. Often the entire front page of left-leaning websites like Slate and Salon are nothing but virtue signaling, the headlines all variations of: Celebrity/Politician/Activist A Just Destroyed the Homophobic/Sexist/Racist Idiocy of Politician B. Usually the articles are jeremiads without much reporting. If research is going to buzzkill your virtue signaling, well then, to hell with research.

But then, virtue signaling is not about journalism. It’s a way to vent your anger.

QotD: The authoritarian urge, left and right

Filed under: History, Politics, Quotations — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 01:00

The idea that Nazism is a more extreme form of conservatism has insinuated its way into popular culture. You hear it, not only when spotty students yell “fascist” at Tories, but when pundits talk of revolutionary anti-capitalist parties, such as the BNP and Golden Dawn, as “far Right”.

What is it based on, this connection? Little beyond a jejune sense that Left-wing means compassionate and Right-wing means nasty and fascists are nasty. When written down like that, the notion sounds idiotic, but think of the groups around the world that the BBC, for example, calls “Right-wing”: the Taliban, who want communal ownership of goods; the Iranian revolutionaries, who abolished the monarchy, seized industries and destroyed the middle class; Vladimir Zhirinovsky, who pined for Stalinism. The “Nazis-were-far-Right” shtick is a symptom of the wider notion that “Right-wing” is a synonym for “baddie”.

One of my constituents once complained to the Beeb about a report on the repression of Mexico’s indigenous peoples, in which the government was labelled Right-wing. The governing party, he pointed out, was a member of the Socialist International and, again, the give-away was in its name: Institutional Revolutionary Party. The BBC’s response was priceless. Yes, it accepted that the party was socialist, “but what our correspondent was trying to get across was that it is authoritarian”.

In fact, authoritarianism was the common feature of socialists of both National and Leninist varieties, who rushed to stick each other in prison camps or before firing squads. Each faction loathed the other as heretical, but both scorned free-market individualists as beyond redemption. Their battle was all the fiercer, as Hayek pointed out in 1944, because it was a battle between brothers.

Authoritarianism – or, to give it a less loaded name, the belief that state compulsion is justified in pursuit of a higher goal, such as scientific progress or greater equality – was traditionally a characteristic of the social democrats as much as of the revolutionaries.

Daniel Hannan, “Leftists become incandescent when reminded of the socialist roots of Nazism”, Telegraph, 2014-02-25.

January 23, 2016

Scott Adams’ theory about Donald Trump is looking better all the time

Filed under: Politics, USA — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 02:00

At the American Enterprise Institute blog, James Pethokoukis is starting to believe that Scott Adams has had Trump’s number this whole time:

Maybe all those explanations are necessary to fully understand the Trump phenomenon. But they may not be sufficient without one more, one that is both simple and sophisticated. The simple part: Trump is just a really, really good salesman. Or, as the campaign pros put it, a “political athlete.” The sophisticated part is how Trump is making that sale to voters. Consider the possibility that Trump — a billionaire businessman with an Ivy League MBA and a best-selling author on dealmaking — isn’t some blithering idiot blurting out populist nonsense. Instead, perhaps Trump is calculatedly using tried-and-true influencing and negotiating techniques — ones used by persuaders from carnival hypnotists to high-profile motivational speakers such as Tony Robbins — to literally mesmerize the GOP.

[…]

These and other of Trump’s “master persuader” tricks and techniques — including engineered insults like calling Jeb Bush “low energy” — have been outlined and explained since last summer in a series of prescient blog posts by cartoonist Scott Adams. Best known as creator of the Dilbert comic strip, Adams is also a Berkeley MBA and trained hypnotist. While many analysts dismiss Trump as an idiot clown benefiting from America’s anxious id, Adams sees Trump as a savvy communicator “highly trained in the art of persuasion [who] literally wrote the book on it …There is a reason Trump’s message penetrates the crowd noise” while the other candidates flounder.

Adams too points out that Trump is friends with Robbins, someone deeply studied in the art of persuasion and making emotional connections, including hypnotic techniques. Also keep in mind that while Adams may not be a member of the national pundit corp, he has been dead on in forecasting the seemingly inexorable rise of Trump, including Trump’s emerging acceptance from the GOP establishment.

Of course, maybe Adams is giving Trump more credit here than he deserves. Maybe Trump is just, as Adams puts it, a “lucky Hitler.” The wrong man at the right time to gain power. But if Adams is right, Trump is intentionally playing a different game than his rivals are, with their tired 30-second ads and think-tank approved policy agendas. And he’s winning that game by a landslide right now — which, by the way, is what Adams is predicting for November 2016.

January 20, 2016

A Swiftian modest proposal to solve the masculinity problem

Filed under: Cancon, Politics — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 04:00

David Thompson finds the eminently sensible and logical proposals of Feminist Current (“Canada’s leading feminist website”) editor Meghan Murphy to be well worth sharing:

… Murphy tells us that “female students are under constant threat” and that all women everywhere live in a state of unending terror:

    And who is it we fear? Is it other women? No. It is a male. A male with a penis that he may or may not use as a weapon.

Armed with a mind of infinite subtlety, Ms Murphy has more than a few ideas on how to combat this throbbing phallocratic menace:

    There are solutions: a feminist revolution… an end to masculinity… all of that would help.

An end to masculinity. Yes, I know, it’s quite a project. But first, baby steps:

    It’s time to consider a curfew for men.

One more time:

    While a curfew would not resolve the problem of patriarchy and male violence against women, it does, in a way, address entitlement and privilege… The more I consider the idea of a curfew for men, the more it makes sense.

Why, it almost sounds like a gratuitous power fantasy, the product of an unwell mind. Of course a curfew will make dating rather difficult if you’re not a lesbian, and overnight motorway maintenance will have to be done exclusively by ladies. And there’ll be no more working nights to support your family, you indecently privileged patriarchal shitlord. Happily, however, our collective punishment as menfolk may not be eternal:

    After a designated period of time, we’ll allow them back on the streets after dark to see how it goes.

Clearly, Ms Murphy is determined to upend idle stereotypes of feminists as batty misandrists unmoored from reality.

January 18, 2016

“Prohibition, in its essence, was a deeply progressive movement”

Filed under: Books, History, Law, Liberty, Politics, USA — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 02:00

Joseph Bottum reviews Lisa McGirr’s The War on Alcohol:

We all know the story: At the beginning of the 20th century, a handful of killjoys, prudes, and pinch-faced puritans began to campaign against liquor. And in 1920, against all odds, they managed to sneak through a law that banned alcohol in the United States. Thirteen years, it took, before we managed to rid ourselves of the absurd regulation, as the corrupting money of gangsters and the intransigence of true-believers — the famous pro-regulation combination of Bootleggers and Baptists — colluded to keep the nation in loony land.

At last, however, we did return to sanity. The forces of right-thinking liberalism in America finally shook off the influence of its nativist bigots and pleasure-hating schoolmarms, and Prohibition was overturned in 1933 to great celebration — celebration so great, so overwhelming, that never again have the conservative know-nothings and religious troglodytes succeeded in forcing the nation to take such an enormous step backward.

It’s a great story, both a cautionary tale in its beginning and uplifting proof of liberation in its conclusion. The only trouble is that it’s completely wrong. Is there another American story, another account of a major American era, that has been so completely hijacked and turned against its actual history?

The truth is that Prohibition, in its essence, was a deeply progressive movement. Thus, for example, the forces of women’s liberation backed Prohibition — and the suffragettes were backed in turn by the Temperance Union, whose support (in the certainty that women would vote to outlaw liquor) helped gain women the vote. The goo-goos, the good-government types, similarly aided Prohibition, seeking to purge the rows of rowdy saloons that cluttered the major cities of America — and they enlisted the help of the Prohibitionists to create a national income tax, ending the federal government’s dependence on liquor taxes.

The health fanatics, the social-service providers in the churches and city governments, the Protestant elite of the Social Gospel movement: Prohibition was supported by majorities in all the social groups who today would be faithful allies of the left. Combine that with rural Protestants, who saw the big cities as dens of Satan, and nativists, who saw drunkenness as an Irish sin, and Prohibition was a moral juggernaut rolling through the nation — as unfathomable as it was unstoppable.

January 17, 2016

QotD: The entrenchment of American political tribes

Filed under: Politics, Quotations, USA — Tags: , , , , , — Nicholas @ 01:00

We learned that much of the increase in political polarization was unavoidable. It was the natural result of the political realignment that took place after President Lyndon Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act in 1964. The conservative southern states, which had been solidly Democratic since the Civil War (since Lincoln was a Republican) then began to leave the Democratic Party, and by the 1990s the South was solidly Republican. Before this realignment there had been liberals and conservatives in both parties, which made it easy to form bipartisan teams who could work together.

[…]

But we also learned about factors that might possibly be reversed. The most poignant moment of the conference came when Jim Leach, a former Republican congressman from Iowa, described the changes that began in 1995. Newt Gingrich, the new speaker of the House of Representatives, encouraged the large group of incoming Republicans to leave their families in their home districts rather than moving their spouse and children to Washington. Before 1995, Congressmen from both parties attended many of the same social events on weekends; their spouses became friends; their children played on the same sports teams. But nowadays most Congressmen fly to Washington on Monday night, huddle with their teammates and do battle for three days, and then fly home on Thursday night. Cross-party friendships are disappearing; Manichaeism and scorched Earth politics are increasing.

Jonathan Haidt, quoted by Scott Alexander in “List Of The Passages I Highlighted In My Copy Of Jonathan Haidt’s The Righteous Mind“, Slate Star Codex, 2014-06-12.

January 16, 2016

QotD: The great Canadian menace

Filed under: Cancon, Humour, Politics, Quotations, USA — Tags: , — Nicholas @ 01:00

Sure, Donald, sure. Ted Cruz is the Great Canadian Menace. After all those years of sitting above us, seeming so polite and hockey-obsessed, drinking their Molson’s and eating their Tim Horton’s doughnuts … the Canadians have been carrying out their elaborate ruse, lulling us into complacency while their sleeper agent gets into place. We’re on to their tricks! We know their bacon is just ordinary ham! Once President Cruz is in the Oval Office, they’ll take back the Washington Nationals, change Z to “Zed,” ban fourth down, blast Celine Dion from public loudspeakers, give us something to cry aboot! President Cruz will turn us into the “U.S. Eh”!

Jim Geraghty, “Trump: Hey, You Know Cruz Is a Canadian Ineligible for the Presidency, Right?”, National Review, 2016-01-06.

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