The Laziest Politics

If you want to know why our politics has reached its current unusual (though by no means unprecedented) state of bitterness and hysteria, take a long look at an often neglected factor in our electoral campaigns: laziness

In 2016, I gave a talk to some conservative activists in California in which I presented a portfolio of concerns about the state of the Republican Party, in particular its presidential nominee. (Retrospective judgment: I was dire, but not dire enough.) Donald Trump, I explained, was not the only problem on the scene: Republicans had abandoned the high ground on spending and fiscal responsibility; state party organizations in effectively single-party GOP states such as Texas had in many cases grown complacent and in other cases had become positively corrupt; and the party had come to be dominated by its “entertainment wing,” meaning Fox News and talk radio and a few social-media entrepreneurs. The problem wasn’t Donald Trump or Sean Hannity but the fact that Donald Trump and Sean Hannity were so obviously made for one another. 

As you might imagine, the conservative activists weren’t having it and quickly grew restive. One older gentleman, red-faced with rage and zinfandel, demanded: “What I want to know is: What are you doing to make sure Republican candidates get elected in November?” 

I thought about it for a second and gave him what he didn’t want—an honest answer.

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  • What does this mean: Democrats, for their part, are in essentially the same rhetorical position. .... Yes they also defend team first. And they have extremists on the left who live on in the universities. But Democratic candidates for Senator are routinely sober. So are most of the others. And when in office, Democrats looks to pass laws that help people - this is not to say that they laws will be effective, but Dems do not get in office and then look to pass the more extreme ideas of their far left.

    So what exactly does the writer mean?

    The parties have diverged. One will occasionally punish their own. The other just wants power and when in office, they pass what the rich donors want.

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  • Republicans are very confused about what they're doing. They're hell bent for leather to get somewhere, but they don't really understand 1. to where, and 2. what they'll do when they get there. But all their frenetic action convinces a certain type of voter that what those Republicans are doing must be IMPORTANT. It's a sad state of affairs.

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  • This has been true of Republicans for awhile I’m afraid. Did it start with “repeal Obamacare” and then after almost a decade they didn’t have a plan for how to replace it?

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  • Excellent. I joined Dispatch a couple of months ago (an AP follower) and finding more and more well thought out and written pieces here.

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  • What a lazy column. I had really expected more than the tired old trope of “gosh both parties just demonize the other and don’t stand for anything.” This is just a slightly more sophisticated sounding but even lazier version of the “both parties are the same” trope.

    You don’t have to have set two grand 40 point plans in an arena for a blood duel to have parties with real differences that are fairly easy to enunciate.

    Republicans as a whole want tighter controls on immigration, tougher criminal enforcement, more energy independence through fossil fuels, are extremely skeptical of double mastectomies for 13 year old girls, favor more parental involvement in education and school boards, don’t want lockdowns, are against abortion until the moment before birth, believe American ideals have been and are fundamentally a force against racism, are in favor of strong policing, and on and on and on and on and on. (Don’t try cheap lazy tricks of saying “some of those are negatives!” Exercise some effort and find a positive version which the mean Republican voter would favor and the mean Democratic voter would oppose. Challenge yourself; or if you’re lazy, challenge me. Trust me. It’s not hard.)

    Democratic leadership has gone so far against the above, dragging much of the Democratic electorate, that a literal moron can find politician and party pronouncements in the past few years—not when an election is imminent and both sides’ candidates are retrenching—where there is an obvious gap between the public positions of the two electorates and political parties.

    Of course there is demonization. To point this out, or to point out that some politicians on both sides are hypocrites, is either the cheapest of cheap columns, or a sign that the writer hopes to clean up a thousand years of political dirt, which is a form of utopian myopia.

    This is just lazy. Find some statements on either side, put in the work, think about it. I’ve started it for you above. There has never been a richer target environment than today in which Republicans and Democrats are taking affirmative countervailing positions with crystal clear slogans (“defund the police!” “build a wall!” “don’t say gay!” “let biological males compete with girls!” “AGW is a fraud!” “we’ll be dead in twenty years!”).

    Do the work.

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  • We voters are a problematic group. We won't vote for politicians who threaten to cut any benefits we think we deserve. How does a fiscally responsible politician compete? One can't capture the long-term consequences of budget deficits and runaway spending in sound-bites when your opponent only has to explain that you want to cut Social Security and Medicare. Maybe the best we get are fiscally responsible governors and state legislatures.

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  • Unlike the GOP, Dems have a very clear agenda barring that odious filibuster. More green spending, statehood for DC and PR, a 13 member SCOTUS (this optimal number to achieve majority status, and endless equity. The GOP would do ... tax cut? More drilling? Deregulation?

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  • “Why do we want a party whose leading lights are such figures as Donald Trump and Herschel Walker to control the Senate? Why would we want such figures as Lindsey Graham or Josh Hawley to control anything?”

    Why do we want such figures as Hillary Clinton or Joe Biden to control the presidency? Why would we want such figures as Raphael Warnock to control the Senate?

    Very courageous! Keep your hands clean. Let others else sully their conscience while you keep yours clean.

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