Sunday, May 14, 2006

The Wasteland: Why Republican Can't Govern

Just like the title says, this post will deal with a very curious aspect to our Republican-led government. It's kind of strange--though pleasing--to watch the Republican Congress/Executive flop about and eventually fail its founding principles as stated. Even its successes have been had by abandoning the overall goals of the movement. Just listen to Cato, that bunch of psychotic neoliberals, whine about how Bush has abandoned the Republican plan to 0 everything from roads to the water supply.

I'm going to be talking both about our national Republicans and, because it's a particularly good example, Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota. (Incidentally, as i understand it, that Wikipedia article has its details wrong--but the broad picture, of Pawlenty promising a fairy in every crockpot and a unicorn in every garage, is pretty accurate.) Pawlenty is a good example because, well, i'll get to that...

Anyway, it's not just Cato. We can see the "Republican activists" despairing as their party abandons them and all its principles for their opposite--bloated, useless government instead of smaller and ineffective government. Meaningless wars diminish our powers abroad and our standing with the world--no matter how much of a brave face they try to put on, i think by now basically all the Republicans who are paid any attention to secretly realize this even if they aren't allowed to say the Emperor is naked and ugly. And so on, and so forth.

This is particularly true with Pawlenty--who, as mentioned above, promised no taxation and a balanced government. Now that he hasn't been able to deliver on either the Republicans are starting to wonder--out loud, this time--what that terrible stench is.

And on our side, it seems that the Republicans were just lying about what they believed in a cynical attack on our nation. Of course, they mostly were--but certainly that does not explain everything. How can those who seem to be the most frothing-at-the-mouth Conservatives suddenly hand in their ideology for no apparent reason? Was it really all a plot? Or were they, instead, well-meaning tools used by the powerful and wealthy? What is their true nature?

The outsiders (that being: us) have been a little confused and frustrated by this for a 3, but now--finally--the Republican activists seem to be realizing they're only getting the scraps of power and not the whole seven courses, as they had dreamed they would.

There's another explanation, however, in that perhaps once the Republicans got ahold of real power they found their fundamental "values" useless. Their values are not values at all, but rather phantoms of their own minds. Consider Pawlenty's "no taxes" ideology. It got thrown out the window once he was actually in office and facing the difficult task of steering a state in the real world. No longer would imaginary pledges, economic fudging, and ignoring reason do the trick--you can't will away red ink, no matter how much you try.

I suspect that the reason Pawlenty was told to step aside for Norm Coleman is that Pawlenty is a true believer, but i think Coleman realizes he's lying for the wealthy and doesn't care. Pawlenty ended up publically humiliated--because, after all, nobody can admit the ideas are unworkable so it must be that Pawlenty is a traitor to the cause, and in no small way he is. He's willing to put the well-being of Minnesota above his ideology, one of the few true sins in the modern Republican movement. When he was faced with the real world effects of his policies he realized he would have to do something to address them.

The disaster that is Republican government is a direct result of their lack of values related to governing so they're left adrift. Since their values can't help them, they just do any old thing--maybe they just go along with the tax cuts for the wealthy and the willful ignorance of the icebergs ahead in our nation's path because they simply lack a mental framework that could analyze these things.

When they talk about how people with "no values" end up "back in the caves, flinging our excrement at one another" they're really talking about themselves! And it's not that they don't have values, it's just that their values--developed in fantasy-land--have no relation to the real world.

You can't end taxation and balance the budget, at least not in Minnesota, because in order to do that you would have to make such 0 sacrifices that people would burn you, and not in effigy. You can't force people to not have abortions by jailing doctors. All of this stuff is a complete fantasy. None of it has to do with how to govern. These values are the wasteland where political parties go to die.

I'll end with a quote from Orwell:

"[W]e are all capable of believing things which we know to be untrue, and then, when we are finally proved wrong, impudently twisting the facts so as to show that we were right. Intellectually, it is possible to carry on this process for an indefinite time: the only check on it is that sooner or later a false belief bumps up against solid reality, usually on a battlefield." -- George Orwell

Next time(s):
The Crito: What Would Socrates Do?
Intelligent Falling: A new "theory" 0 a religious explanation for "gravity" and its merits, including why it is a better theory than Intelligent Design. No, seriously.

Possibly after those:
Principles: So you suddenly don't want to have "values" anymore? (And after this post you might be right to be suspicious.) Where can an honest Democrat go to find a rudder in our modern political maelstrom? I provide what i think is a better way of looking at commitment to ideas than the Republican narrative of "values" and, of course, why i think it's better.

ADDENDUM:
Newt Gingrich seems to have figured this out. Have you seen his speeches lately? You should watch one or two. I'm not sure if they're all the same, but at least some of them are pretty impressive. He seems to have become a technocrat, if a nasty-style capitalist technocrat. He even has some interesting ideas(!)

For instance, he wants real-style debates where two people get together and actually talk to each other, not the audience(!!!)

Right here, right now, i will make a prediction: Newt Gingrich, barring some unforseen weirdness, will be the Republican nominee in 2008. The only candidate on our side that trumps him is Al Gore, although Feingold's weaknesses vanish into thin air versus a Newt opposition. (That is: a divorce and his religion.)

Why does Gore trump Newt? Even though Newt has some good ideas, they're still all in the vein of "The government! It sucks!" Gore doesn't have that sort of tunnel vision, although in Gore vs. Newt you should look for the Republicans to start minimizing all problems except the US government, which they will again state is the source of all badness in the world--specifically, its inefficiency is the source of all badness in the world.

Where am i going with this? Newt has realized Republican values are worthless. (Except, apparently, the whole Republican loathing of government.) So instead he has dropped them and is moving forward with a plan to technocratize the government.

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