Wednesday, November 02, 2011

rock, but don't sink, the boat

I saw Ari Fleischer the other night on Anderson Cooper. He was trying very hard to find the golden nugget in the political pile of crap that is the Herman Cain campaign and platform.  When it was pointed out that the 9-9-9 plan would be economic ruin, Fleischer’s response was basically (and this is a paraphrase) that the Republicans and Democrats have only argued about reforming the tax code to various degrees left and right while Herman Cain, at least, wants to trash it completely. 
Allow me to make an analogy: Democrats and Republicans want to steer the ship, but know it can only move left or right by degrees. Herman Cain wants to sink it.
I stumbled upon an article today which I thought explains well why this is a bad idea—many populist ideas are simply bad policy. With the advent of mass media, blogs, 24 hr news cycle, unfortunately, what we have is an electorate that ISN’T well informed, but well fed. We have the informational equivalent of a child who went from being starved to being stuffed full of twinkies. People think that because they are consuming more, they are consuming well. This, in turn, like a parasite that eats the brain of the host, has killed the Republican Party. What was once a party that was reality based and hoped to use the levers of government for the better has been taken over by a minority of people who hope to sink the ship.  In a self-reinforcing loop, the media and self-serving blogs reinforce that this new incarnation of the party is a valid form of government and the people push ever further rightward. 
These people provide simple answers that capture the imagination—they come as “outsiders” and people fed up with what is going on support them. However, they provide neither answers, nor solutions to anything. An article I read recently said,
But the question is, would empowering outsiders at the expense of the establishment tend to replace the Washington Establishment’s biggest policy errors with outside wisdom? Or would it more often gut sound-but-unpopular policy and replace existing errors with bigger errors?
The answer, it seems, is bigger errors. Herman Cain’s tax plan is a preposterous idea. Sara Palin’s entire governing philosophy is a joke. While we may be angry as a country at what has happened, the answer is to right the course, not sink the ship…hopefully there will be a valid second party to help us accomplish this. This isn’t to say the Republicans might not win—they might—but in their current incarnation, they are not a valid governing party and I genuinely fear what will happen if the Tea Party side of the family takes control of the government.


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