Atoms and void

After the mesmerising meltdown that just took place, in a normal country the cabinet would resign and we would have new elections…. in the U.S…. somehow the Government is expected to just go on despite both the Executive or the Legislative Branch being stripped entirely of any credibility. (And what’s left of the Judiciary’s credibility is being put through a wood-chipper with the Gorsuch hearings.)

Perhaps it is misleading to say “go on” for that would imply that the government has been going on and can continue but there is nothing to continue. Democritus said, “By convention hot, by convention cold yet in reality Atoms and Void” Somehow we seem to have left the atoms out and all that remains is Void.

Democritus was called the “laughing philosopher” for he laughed at the folly of man. By the way, don’t think I’m letting the Left off the hook either: where are the Democrat’s ideas? They’re gloating about the demise of a bill, this would be unseemly except that they had nothing to do with it—the bill collapsed entirely on its own. Gloating isn’t in this case so much ‘unseemly’ as ‘delirious.’

What the Democrats should have done is had a new bill ready to go! Nothing dramatic, just a ‘fix’ bill. Let’s not B.S. ourselves, there are serious problems with the ACA. But, some of them can be fixed! As soon as the GOP bill collapsed (and its collapse could be seen a mile off) they should have produced their own “ACA Amendment” act to fix some of the problems with the law,

“Well,” in some parallel universe I imagine Pelosi and Schumer saying, “that didn’t work, but fortunately we have a backup.” Unfortunately, we don’t live in that harmonious universe. In some but not all states, the ACA exchanges are collapsing. There is real danger that some states will have the dreaded and heretofore somewhat mythic “insurance death spiral.”

This is in part because “you know who” knocked out several of the key risk abatement mechanisms of the act, out of pique, but nobody is telling that to the people who are seeing double-digit premium increases for exchange plans. All they see is “Obamacare is Bankrupting me.” And for that they blame Democrats.

By having no plan, Democrats missed a GOLDEN opportunity to force the house GOP to trod on those people’s valid concerns by refusing to move or by voting down the putative ‘fix bill.’

If Democrats want to win they have to RESPECTFULLY show the people who voted for Trump, erroneously, due to legitimate grievances that they can help and the GOP cannot. But Democrats are not talking to those people at all. Democrats honestly almost seem as if they don’t want to win any more.

Why did Bernie Sanders’ campaign fail?

Are you sure it failed? Certainly, Sanders has been precluded from being the nominee for a long time but it prevented the no-challenge Clinton coronation that everyone was afraid of. That is not to be sneezed at.

Beside, by out flanking her ideologically he has forced her into the unfortunate position of having as her best argument “I’m not Trump.”

But let’s examine some things that undermined the campaign.

  1. TOO NICE – Sanders was a remarkably civil, high-concept opponent. Not to sound cynical but that doesn’t really work in presidential politics.
  2. THE WORD SOCIALISM — There are two problems with using the word “socialism.” First is the obvious one. It’s just not true.

    Sanders is no socialist, nowhere near it. Nationalization of industry and abolishment of normal buying and selling are central and inseparable to the definition of socialism and both are conspicuously absent from Sander’s agenda. Sanders is a garden variety social democrat (which is a world of difference from “democratic socialist” a term with no accepted prior definition.) This left the unavoidable impression that Sanders was either uninformed or reaching for shock value. Neither is a good look on a presidential candidate.

    The second problem with “socialism” is that it invites false but hard to rebut comparisons to failed states such as Venezuela. What is happening in Venezuela is the inevitable result of the combination of price controls and artificially fixed currency exchange rates which encourage the normally economically irrational practice of buying things in order to export them out of the country. This has very little to do with socialism and the majority of Venezuelan industry is privately owned.

  3. WRONG PHRASING — I cannot say it enough, “income inequality” is a junk concept. To be sure, it’s a real and existential threat to the stability of our civilization in the long-term and when it entails rigging and economic fakery, which is more commonly than imagined, it is morally wrong but the problem lies in how it is termed. “Income inequality” sounds greedy and entitled. You get nowhere with that. Try talking about “dramatic collapse in upward mobility.”

    When you phrase it that way, many Sanders initiatives such as free at the point of use healthcare and higher education sound less like lazy-bum handouts and more like investments in that thing Donald Trump keeps talking about: Making America Great. The tack that Sanders and the left at large are taking is ideologically immoderate and renders cross-aisle support unlikely.

  4. IMPRACTICALITY — You don’t have to have a degree in politics to determine that there is zero chance in hell of Sanders implementing even a single plank of his platform as long as Republicans control the House and/or Senate. More likely than not they will retain the House and Senate. Sanders never articulated any idea as to how he was going to actually implement this. Rather, he embraced what is sometimes termed “whig history” – the idea of historical inevitability of progress towards certain ideas. That is to say, no action was required other than a vague “political revolution.” We all know what happened to the Whigs.
  5. TACTICAL ERROR — I admire the spirit of the comment about “your damn emails” but that was a mistake. We, voters, are obliged to consider the matter. Not necessarily because of alleged illegality per se but because of what pattern of secrecy, contempt for rules and disregard for appearances of propriety they evince.

Income inequality

The left has convinced itself that prattling on about “income inequality” is the way to go. This is wrong; Americans want to be rich themselves so soaking the rich is not an attractive proposition.

It’s also too easy for the right to bat aside as “politics of envy” or something like that.

What the left really needs to do is rephrase their points to be about the “dramatic collapse of upward mobility.” Americans like upward mobility, after all, they want to be rich.

Polls show the majority of Americans believe their children will not have superior standard of living and the overwhelming majority of “middle class” adults believe their own standard of living is difficult to maintain. Most under-30s believe they already are the lost generation and have little hope for the future.

There’s your hook.

Fixing the Democratic Party

I do not think that the solution to dysfunctional politics is to push the Democratic party further to the left. In fact, this would weaken the left the same way the tea movement weakened the right. Then we will have weakness doubled up against weakness and BOTH parties will be consumed by ridiculous internal purity struggles. In such a scenario the unreformed, hated party establishment will inevitably prevail. There are real solutions: term limits, party threshold preferences, mandatory voting, root-and-branch electoral reform, open primaries but the people who control the system would lose their jobs if they enacted them.