can’t win by not losing



Freddie deBoer used to blog at, and may again someday. Now he blogs here.

Related Post Roulette

28 Responses

  1. Avatar Freddie says:

    Political politicians. Jeez. REPUBLICAN politicians.Report

  2. Avatar Bob says:

    John Cole, balloonjuice, has a “tag” “good news for conservatives.” It’s good news 24/7 in Conservo land.Report

  3. “I hear a lot, from people like Conor Friedersdorf or Mickey Kaus or others, that there is something beneficial in a Democratic president and a Republican congress, because this is a combination that reins in the excesses of either. I think that there are members of this here League who would echo similar sentiments. Yet we need to be clear what such a situation actually privileges, which is the status quo.”

    No, no, no, no. The argument for the specific combo of Dem Prez and GOP Congress rests on the empirically true fact that this combination is the only combination that results in anything resembling fiscal responsibility, although a GOP Prez and Dem Congress is still empirically much less bad than unified government of any sort. Beyond that, there is a strong argument to be made (indeed, I have made it at quite some length) that divided government is far more likely to result in stronger legislation and more broad-based reforms on issues where there is a consensus even as it results in significantly less legislation on issues where there is no real national consensus.Report

    • Avatar greginak in reply to Mark Thompson says:

      There may some truth in that Mark, if , and its a big if, both parties in the split gov want to work together to solve problems. certainly some problems, like social security, could be dealt with relatively simply if both parties would work together. I know I don’t, but do you seriously see the Repub’s as willing to work together on finding solutions? FWIW I do see the Dem’s and Obama as very willing to work together with R’s.Report

      • Avatar Koz in reply to greginak says:

        Really? What do you think is the problem with Social Security then? Certainly the Demo’s weren’t models of cooperation wrt George W Bush’s reform proposals.Report

        • Avatar greginak in reply to Koz says:

          Bush wanted to privatize a good portion of SS which would have entailed massive spending up front to make it work( which conservatives usually don’t like and was a bad idea in this case) and put SS money into the stock market and all those wonderful finance companies that have led us to the DOW hitting 36000 and riches for all. Bush had a terrible plan. SS is not a crisis and can be fixed by small changes such as stopping the current cap on SS deductions at somewhere around 100,000.Report

          • Avatar Koz in reply to greginak says:

            There’s a lot to be said here, but the first thing to note is that the SS tax is effectively 15% so ending the cap is a huge tax increase. Ultimately if the economy is not successful we can’t guarantee the SS payments anyway.

            But the most important thing is that like the D’s like to complain now, back then they offered no constructive ideas at all, just obstruction. I for one think that complaint has less substance that some. If you think that a policy is going down a wrong road in toto, then the thing to do is oppose it entirely.

            This does illustrate, however that the GOP has a lot more credibility on spending than you or other liberals want to believe. For all of their mistakes, everything they do is working into a headwind of people such as yourself who are completely unconcerned with the expansion of the entitlement state, and its associated costs.Report

            • Avatar Barry in reply to Koz says:

              ‘More credibility on spending’? At this point, I call flat-out lie.

              And this leads to the my major agreement with Freddie:

              “If the Bush administration has become the convenient flogging horse of liberal pundits and bloggers like me, it has also become the convenient repository of blame for conservatives and the GOP, an edifice onto which problems can be conveniently fobbed off, as we have so many of us come to think of Bush America as a strange place disconnected from our current country.”
              The major impression I get of the bloggers here is a bunch of people who are unwilling to come to terms with what the GOP proved itself to be in the Bush administration, and still is (remember, 47% of the voters in ’08 chose GOP, even after everything that happened).

              It’s like the communist party in a post-communist state talking like they have nothing to explain about their period of rule, because, you see, they are ‘Marxist’, not the actual stalinists (or petty stalinists) who ruled the country. It’s All Not Their Fault.Report

    • Avatar Freddie in reply to Mark Thompson says:

      Ah. Empirics. Generally speaking, saying something is “empirically true” requires reference to, you know, empirical evidence. And if the best you have is saying that we had a budget surplus during the Clinton-Gingrich era, I suggest that you are dealing with a laughably small data set.Report

  4. Avatar greginak says:

    So if I can predict that the dominant party and popular views on political ideologies will cycle over time can i be a NY Times columnist also? i could stretch that out into 700-800 words and use numbers and everything.

    I went to a middle of the road state collage and I imagine if I turned in this essay in a freshman poli sci course it would earn me a solid C, with plenty of time left over for partying.Report

  5. Avatar Koz says:

    “Still, what I think has been unique to the right is the frequency and insistence of column after column and blog post after blog post that insists that a certain set of factors are going to align to make conservatism’s rise a fait accompli.”

    I don’t exactly what columns and blog posts you are talking about, but that is a mistake. The success of conservatism is in no way a fait accompli. It crucially depends on the largely apolitical American middle and to some extent the liberals and leftists letting us rule. But what we can say is that we have a chance to accomplish prosperity and limited government for America and we are the only ones who do.Report

  6. Avatar Sam M says:

    So I clicked on the column to read Douthat talking about how the fait accompli of conservative triumph. But… he didn’t say that at all. Actually, he said:

    “This suggests that a Depression-style realignment, in which today’s youthful “Obama Democrats” are still voting for hope and change (and grumbling about George W. Bush) in 2050 and beyond, remains within the Democratic Party’s grasp.”

    That seems different than what you said he said.

    If anything, it’s Democrats who are the triumphalists, with all the squawking about demographic this and demographic that. In my experience, conservatives are incredibly grim about the future, whether they are talking about culture, family values, elections, or anything else.Report

    • Avatar Freddie in reply to Sam M says:

      You know what you could do? Quote the very next paragraph.

      “But even the young will need to see results eventually. And the more that Democrats flail in the present, the more likely it becomes that the Great Recession will be remembered as the time when liberalism let the future slip away.”

      Cherry picking is fun!Report

  7. Avatar Jaybird says:

    “Whatever else is true, this is true: believing in and working towards limiting the amount of efforts the federal government undertakes is a principled and potentially profitable standpoint. Reflexive can’t doism is not. It is a glaringly sad statement about American affairs how much one of our two dominant political parties has become defined by what it insists cannot be done. Ross Douthat may be right that the Republicans can win by just not winning. But it’s a recipe for disaster for this country. Both parties need to have agendas, even if one is an agenda of scaling back and tamping down, and both need to equally be held to the standard of actually doing well for the country.”

    Could this argument be given in service of, say, the 18th Amendment? Good, honest progressives pointing out that alcohol destroys families, creates orphans, kills innocents, and makes us all the worse off? People who engage in reflexive anti-18th Amendment negativism are people who, at best, are can’t do-ers and are, at worst, probable alcoholics?

    Could this argument be given with regards to the invasion of Iraq? Afghanistan? People who oppose the removal of the oppressive, patriarchical Taliban and/or the oppressive, tyrannical Saddam and are engaging in negativism are people who, at best, are can’t do-ers and are, at worst, sympathizers (and are, in any case, objectively pro-fascism)?

    This is why I am uncomfortable with a standard of “actually doing well for the country”.

    I’d prefer a standard of “first, do no harm”. It is not good enough to have the best of intentions.Report

  8. Avatar Scott says:

    Sorry Freddie you are really overreaching if you think that Russ is really saying that he, “thinks that America’s political future is conservative.” As with you health care post, you try dialing down the hyperbole.Report

  9. Avatar Sam M says:

    “Cherry picking is fun!”

    But even that paragraph doesn’t do what you accused Douthat of doing. Take a look:

    “But even the young will need to see results eventually. And the more that Democrats flail in the present, the more likely it becomes that the Great Recession will be remembered as the time when liberalism let the future slip away.”

    Do you honestly disagree with this? He says, the more Democrats screw up, the less likely they are to seize a permanent majority like the one accomplished by the New Deal. Can you counter this banality in some way? Do you suspect that flailing in the present makes a permanent Dem majority MORE likely?

    Douthat says this reallignment is still within their grasp. They can still do it. But the past 12 months have not done a lot to help that cause.

    And this is somehow the same as saying “I predict huge wins for conservatives in the future”?

    “… a Depression-style realignment … remains within the Democratic Party’s grasp.”Report

  10. Avatar Koz says:

    “Do you honestly disagree with this? He says, the more Democrats screw up, the less likely they are to seize a permanent majority like the one accomplished by the New Deal. Can you counter this banality in some way? Do you suspect that flailing in the present makes a permanent Dem majority MORE likely?”

    Especially combined with that last post, Freddie’s bearings are a little off. The biggest thing that Demo’s are screwing up is their health care strategy. The rest of the world can see pretty clearly by now.Report

  11. Avatar John Henry says:

    In shocking news, a conservative thinks that America’s political future is conservative.

    Did you even read the linked article, Freddie? The whole argument Douthat makes is conditional; i.e. if Obama turns things around, then the Democrats could be set for the foreseeable future; if, however, the Democrats and Obama continue to flail, then conservatism will appear more attractive. Douthat illustrates this point with historical examples – the Great Depression v. stagflation in the ’70’s/the early 90’s recession. The basic question in the column is this: Is it the 1930’s or the 1970’s? And his answer is we’ll see.

    I know you don’t do nuance well Freddie, but it’s hard to believe anyone could read the linked column is a clear prediction that ‘America’s political future is conservative.’ What’s up with the dishonest caricatures?Report

  12. Avatar Mike Farmer says:

    I believe the country is moving away from both parties. I think that most people are a combination of conservative and liberal, and neither label makes much sense when dealing with individuals. It might be more accurate to say we’re seeing a return of individualism. It’s always been simplistic to look at the majority of society as falling into tow main groups — the country is more diverse than that, and the rise of self-proclaimed independents reflects this — I take independent to mean diverse and resistant to categorization. The only two groups which seem to be monolithic and deserving of a category are the far left progressives and the religious conservatives — they don’t veer much from their chosen path and respective ideologies, and both rely on the state for political power to control the ideas and morals of the other side. The two parties may be stuck with their radical minorities while the rest of country goes in other directions which the two party is failing to understand or address. The party which understands the growth of independents, which to me is a rejection of statism, will win elections.Report

    • Avatar North in reply to Mike Farmer says:

      I dunno that it’s that simple Mike. The new independants seem to be a solid mix of statist and libertarian as much as they are a mix of liberal and conservative. Americans like limited government in theory but oppose it furiously when the practise of limited government actually effects them.Report

  13. Avatar Mike Farmer says:

    Yes, North, they are certainly not all libertarians, not even close — but the general mood is for less government growth. Any true statists among them would eagerly join the progressives. I’m not under the illusion that this country is ready for limited government as I understand limited government, and the wants and needs of people are varied, but the general tone is uneasiness with a State growing more powerful and intrusive.

    I see as a direction and a slow learning process. People, it seems, are waking up and paying attention like they haven’t done for a long time. No, we’re stuck with entitlements and goodies for a long time — perhaps forever, if people never realize they can do these things for themselves more efficiently and less politically.

    My main point is that it’s premature for Republicans to start a victory dance, because the independents are undecided. We might see the creation of a third party which becomes a power-broker movement.Report

  14. Avatar Mike Farmer says:

    I keep seeing this word “simple” used as a caution in a complex world. I’m not sure if people are as complex as that — we make it complicated, but most people simply want a good job where they can do the least amount for the highest return, spend quality time with friends and family, help out if they can, and to be left alone by authority as much as possible.Report