I feel like I should say something about the craziness & redundancy of American politics recently…

…but I’m going to leave that up to you, and you are more than welcome to contribute links and discuss. This is just a prompt.

My concern is: “What exactly brought us here, and can it be reversed, or do we have to wait this thing out?”

Links to start:

There’s tons more: the general narrative seems to be that the Right is into a host of conspiracy theory, and is only “united” by the worst sort of emotional appeal. The Left seems to be putting forth a very slick package based on a host of misrepresentations and lies, and is not above using conspiracy theory to fire back. The political discourse of America seems far more fractured than it was under President Bush, and this is most emphatically not Bush’s fault. I’m not blaming President Obama, either: somehow we got it in our heads that this is an acceptable way of conducting politics, and as Rousseau points out, once a sense of restraint is gone in a democracy, it is not very easy to get back.

Of course it can be argued that all I’m seeing is isolated incidents: when people start rioting and destroying things, that’s when we know things have gone too far. So I dunno – again, discussion time.

8 Comments

  1. I saw the Specter meeting today and was mesmerized. The people come off as intelligent, knowledgeable and concerned. Never so active in politics, I have been emailing and calling the White House and Congress to voice my opinions. My greatest fear is that despite the people not wanting this health care bill to pass, the government will pass it anyway. But I was pleased to see that the purchase of extra aircraft was decided against, probably because of the people’s actions.

  2. @ Alice – yeah, I agree. There are a lot of good, smart people actively protesting, and it is crisis time. It’s like half of America doesn’t matter because of the last election.

    I am reluctant to hold back on some criticisms of the Right, for this reason: a lot of people who are into far more extreme activities are using the better activists as cover. And I’m wondering where on earth was the concern for purging that element years before.

    I think there’s a very good chance this health bill is sunk. cf:

    http://www.realclearpolitics.com/horseraceblog/2009/07/obamas_tactical_mistake.html

  3. About the Gun Incident. I am inclined to believe it was a plant Much like The Republicans Joe the Plumber. As For The legality and States Rights Issues. Well….
    http://www.pgnh.org/gunlawfaqs
    States Rights are another interesting kettle of fish. The Democrats tout them when it fits their agenda They seceded from the Union over them. The Republicans did the same with Abortion laws. so Nobody is all that clean

  4. Ashok: tell me off if you think I’m wasting everyone’s time, but I seem to be missing something fairly major here (remember I am not an American): basically, I find the strength of opposition to the health care bill to be completley mystifying. Why are people so convinced that it will be the end of the republic?

    You can take this as a confession of ignorance, but I’m just getting the feeling that most people here think that the bill is obviously disastrous and needs to be opposed (not amended but rejected, as one of the impassioned citizens in the video says), but rejected out of hand: no health care reform for the U.S.? Why is this? Is the system really so good? Could you perhaps post some links to some good arguments for the opposition that won’t make (liberal press reading foreigners) like myself beleive the lines about right-wing conspiracy?

  5. @ Mal – yeah, here are some links. Here’s one arguing that the American system is already too much like the European one. There are some really interesting statistics and details toward the bottom, but I think the premise will be startling:

    http://www.reason.com/news/show/135127.html

    Now Reason.com is quite obviously libertarian, but you can find the Heritage Foundation – yes, they’re right-wing, but they’re not making stuff up – arguing pretty much the same thing. Talking points of theirs:

    http://www.heritage.org/Press/FactSheet/fs0036.cfm

    The general argument is not that health care reform isn’t needed; the argument is that what is being proposed – as reason puts it, a government takeover of at least 1/5 of the economy is neither desirable nor feasible. Even without health care reform, this is how the US deficit is shaping up this year compared to the Bush years:

    http://pajamasmedia.com/instapundit/74459/

    That projected deficit for this year is more of a deficit than all the Bush years combined, w/o any health care reform. This is government on a scale we’re not used to, for priorities that not all of America agrees with; the South, which is pretty much all red states, is 40% of the armed forces:

    http://www.heritage.org/Research/NationalSecurity/cda08-05.cfm

    Now that’s pretty much all Heritage. Other links detailing the numbers and whether or not this is even feasible are at the WSJ, and there is a potent argument at other places that European systems have been piggybacking off of American innovation for some time and rationing it. Again, the argument continues that if one closes off even what little of a private sector we have, we won’t even have that much.

    More links, but I think you’ve seen these before:

    How is this all gonna get paid for? Oh yeah, rich people, I forgot about that — http://online.wsj.com/article/SB124779717982855785.html

    Do the President’s numbers add up? Of course not, and that’s a major reason why a lot of people are very angry. There absolutely is a feeling on the Right that they’ve been excluded from anything like rational debate, not just now, but for the hammering they’ve been taking for 8 years — http://pajamasmedia.com/blog/obamacare-gets-a-red-light-from-cbo/

    If you want more links, or links from different sources, ask and we’ll look. But yeah, the anger is palpable. Quite a few of us feel that the Democrats actually caused the subprime mess – they were receiving top dollar in donations from Freddie Mac & Fannie Mae – and we know they’re not above bankrupting this country, or the world, for a few of their constituents. It’s very difficult to work with people you don’t trust, esp. when you don’t feel they’ll take bullets for you (and if you’ve met some of the liberals on campus here, the ones that have jobs in the Obama admin now, well).

    Oh, on Democratic party donations – a few political scientists will say the Republicans are the party of the rich —

    http://www.opensecrets.org/orgs/list.php?order=A

  6. Ashok,

    Thank you for for taking the time to put these up.

    I have (quickly) read all of these, and am inspired to look further into the issues.

    It’s true that I still don’t entirely understand the argument, but I am definitely getting more of a sense of what’s going on here. (Can’t be a bad thing.) Also, I will definitely now seek out more material on this in the hope that I might more reasonably sort out propaganda (from either side) from facts.

    I do feel a little guilty at making you take the time to do this, but then I also know that I’m not the only fan of your blog who is neither an American, nor a supporter of the GOP. As always, the fact that you will attempt to communicate your on these matters rather than simply taking an easy: “who cares what random crypto-socialist foreigners” think does you credit.

    Hope you’re well and that the hands are back to normal.

    -Mal

  7. @ Mal: It in a way reminds me of how British ministers like Grenville weren’t able to wrap their heads around the internal taxation laid on the colonies — it just didn’t seem all that different than the external taxes to many continental Brits. I think that (although it is a very big issue) the bill strikes a larger nerve in the American sensibility, and even if there were some tangible benefits to the new reform, ppl would still revolt against it because of what they percieve as principle. One Dallas graduate who taught me undergrad history would always bring up Aristotle’s Politics, when he says that big movements occur over small events. What then happens when the event is sensed as not-so-small?

    BTW, I meant to compare Grenville to the Obama administration more than another European – ha!

  8. Re Thag: Then people freak out completely.

    I was reading through the comments thinking that the thing that has struck me most about the whole situation is the unrelenting opposition (on the part of friends and family, at least) to health care reform- period.

    They are so afraid of this bill that it has tainted the idea of any potential change. That’s not a good attitude to take, but they have- they’ve literally shut down to any reasonable alternatives as Maladjusted mentioned above.

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