Jason Kuznicki

Jason Kuznicki is a research fellow at the Cato Institute and contributor of Cato Unbound. He's on twitter as JasonKuznicki. His interests include political theory and history.

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58 Responses

  1. I believe these teams were called the “Blues” and the “Greens” in Byzantium.Report

  2. Kyle Cupp says:

    If you do not choose a team, one will be chosen for you, and their joys and miseries will be ascribed to you, whether you ask for them or not.

    How true this is, alas.Report

  3. Koz says:

    “I’ve been more than a little surprised at how many friends and acquaintances assumed that I’d be overjoyed by a Republican takeover of the House. “

    I dunno, I would never have gotten that idea from what you’ve written here. As far as restoring hope for prosperity and limited government for America, well, you’re welcome.Report

    • Jason Kuznicki in reply to Koz says:


      I will thank your team after it’s achieved something. Not before.


    • Jaybird in reply to Koz says:

      @Koz, will they raise the debt ceiling?Report

      • Koz in reply to Jaybird says:

        I’m sure they will, when whatever they raised it to the last time is about to run out.Report

        • Jaybird in reply to Koz says:

          @Koz, you’ll forgive if I see your definition of “hope for prosperity and limited government for America” as not that different from what Democrats would be doing.

          Hey, maybe they’ll fail to repeal Obamacare and call that a victory because, hey, it came up for a vote, right?Report

          • Koz in reply to Jaybird says:

            Or maybe they will repeal Obamacare. I don’t control the world, and actually the political class doesn’t either. That’s why they call it hope.

            And while we’re parroting me, let’s also mention that the destruction of human capital is the essence of liberalism in America today. The part about the GOP being the best hope for prosperity is downstream from that.Report

            • Jaybird in reply to Koz says:

              @Koz, personally, I think that they should refuse to raise the debt ceiling, follow Moyle’s Law, and refuse to fund the government (SHUT IT DOWN!) if it gets vetoed.

              *THAT* would indicate that the Republicans were the best hope for prosperity.

              Rather than Democrats-Red.Report

            • North in reply to Koz says:

              @Jaybird, Problem is Jay that if the GOP had the stones to do what you’re suggesting then they’d have an overabundance of stones to either;
              A- cut enough programs and entitlements to balance the budget without a ruinous default on debt.
              B- cut a deal with Obama and the Dems to enact a less painful combination tax increase and program cutting program a la Bush Senior in the early 90’sReport

            • Jaybird in reply to Koz says:

              @North, I obliquely referenced A with “Moyle’s Law”.

              What is Moyle’s Law, you ask?

              *I’M GLAD YOU ASKED!!!!*

              “You can take 10% off of anything.”

              Apply it across the board.Report

            • North in reply to Koz says:

              @Jaybird, I agree 100% Jay, seriously. It could be done.
              I’d love for either of the parties to do it.
              Problem is it’d be painful horrible politics and neither bunch want to try and make the country take its medicine.

              Maybe hopey McChangepants can cut a deal now that he has an empowered opposition to deal with. Lord knows he wants to. I’m waiting with great interest to see if his interest is reciprocated.Report

            • Koz in reply to Koz says:

              I hope so. Maybe he’d be willing to undo the health care bill. Remorse = responsibility.Report

    • North in reply to Koz says:

      @Koz, Did the GOP central comittee ever decide which spending programs they are going to slash to the bone to reduce the deficit without raising taxes Koz? I mean now that they’ve got congress the clock has started ticking. They’re actually going to have to propose a budget and stuff.Report

      • Koz in reply to North says:

        I probably won’t know before you do, but my guess is the first thing they’ll try is undo the Obama health care bill.Report

        • 62across in reply to Koz says:

          @Koz, bzzzz – wrong answer.

          The correct answer is: no, the GOP central committee will be slashing exactly nothing to the bone. Snip, snip here and that is all there’s going to be. Won’t cost them any credibility with Koz, either, which is a bonus.Report

        • North in reply to Koz says:

          @Koz, Yes well best o’ luck with that. Doubtlessly Obama and the Senate Dems will be down with a flat repeal of the legislation they spent a year enacting.
          As for real spending cuts, I’m looking forward to see if the GOP has any substance behind their talk at all on that front. And the tea party too of course.Report

          • Koz in reply to North says:

            “Doubtlessly Obama and the Senate Dems will be down with a flat repeal of the legislation they spent a year enacting.”

            Well probably not but you have to find out for sure. Remorse = responsibility, that’s my latest catchphrase. Just because your team has been an institutionalized fcukup in the past doesn’t mean they’re destined to be a fcukup now and for all time.Report

            • Steven Donegal in reply to Koz says:

              @Koz, “Just because your team has been an institutionalized fcukup in the past doesn’t mean they’re destined to be a fcukup now and for all time.”

              The Republicans are certainly going to put that to the test in the next two years. With Boehner and McConnell at the helm, I’m betting on institutional fcukup now and for all time.Report

  4. Kyle Cupp says:

    I wonder if the assumption that one must choose a team relates in any way to the natural human drive to label, define, categorize, and so forth. To taking sides and establishing boundaries with words boil down to the same impulse?Report

  5. Elvis Elvisberg says:

    The assumption, as always, is that one simply must choose a team. From then on, keeping score is easy. You know you’re winning when your team is in power. You know you’re losing when your team is out of power.

    For whatever it’s worth, it seems to me that this is more intense, at the moment, on the right than on the left. I don’t think there’s any evidence, from looking at the past 10-20 years that the GOP has any consistent policy preferences (with the possible exception of the importance of reducing government revenue regardless of the economic or budgetary context). The Democrats just enacted Bob Dole’s health insurance reform policy… and Team Red is irate at the soshalistofascism.

    Not that it’s unheard of on the left, or that it’s impossible for the left to degenerate into mere tribalism, it just seems that at the moment, it’s just about all there is on the right.Report

  6. Elvis Elvisberg says:

    @Jason Kuznicki, Sure, it suggests that the Dems of 1994 should have been willing, for the sake of policy and tactics, to compromise with the then-GOP in order to enact reform. But Dems at the time weren’t marching in the streets in outrage about it, either.

    @ North– Well, there seems to be this belief among the Democratic Party that if they compromise, they’ll get more support from the GOP. So they ask for a too-small stimulus, they take a public option off the table, some of them vote against extending unemployment benefits, even though those policies would be good for the economy and, therefore in the medium-term, the deficit. And in return, Democrats get… shellacked at the polls, because their half-measures don’t help the economy quickly enough and Team Red is still outraged at the socialism (somehow having forgotten, during the enacting of Medicare Part D and the Bush tax policies, that deficits make them feel really sad).Report

    • North in reply to Elvis Elvisberg says:

      @Elvis Elvisberg, Well you don’t need to persuade me that they screwed the politics of the stimulus up big time. That was Persident Hope and Change at his most foolish making it 1/3rd tax cuts and essentially giving the GOP no reason at all to bargain since they’d already been given everything they wanted gratis.Report

  7. Robert Cheeks says:

    Hey, I gotta little emotional myself when Orange Boner broke down. Before you commie-boys get your knickers all in a wad, let’s just wait and see how much ass the TPers through around. Remember the key here is to stop that mulatto, commie-Kenyan, Imam Barry, from passing anymore of his punitive legilation and make him look as bad as possible…which ain’t that hard.Report

    • 62across in reply to Robert Cheeks says:

      @Robert Cheeks, you really need to take off the rosy-shaded glasses you use when viewing the TP crowd. They aren’t going to throwing anything around but tantrums.Report

      • Jaybird in reply to 62across says:

        @62across, if they throw tantrums that impede the raising of the debt limit: Mission Accomplished.Report

        • North in reply to Jaybird says:

          @Jaybird, Erg.. I hope they give enough warning so I can switch my savings over to gold, ammo and Canadian currency.Report

        • Francis in reply to Jaybird says:

          @Jaybird, The Treasury can probably get away with a technical default for a few days. It’s even possible that it would just ignore the law for a day or so. But if the US were actually to default on T-bills, it would result virtually overnight in the destruction of the world financial system. There are a number of benefits to the dollar being the global reserve currency, but there are responsibilities too.

          What would happen? Every single bank would close it’s doors. Not a single financial transaction would occur — no paychecks, no ATMs, checks accepted only at a discount. Interest rates would skyrocket. A global depression like the 30’s would ensue. Really want to go there?Report

          • Jaybird in reply to Francis says:

            @Francis, it’s preferable to Zimbabwe.

            Eventually raising the debt ceiling will stop working. Catastrophically.

            It’ll make the 30’s look like the 20’s.Report

            • Francis in reply to Jaybird says:

              @Jaybird, I disagree. The debt cap is set at a dollar amount, not a percentage of GDP. The ability of a country or a corporation to repay it’s debts is a function of its cash flow. GDP isn’t a perfect equivalent, but close enough. Tax levels in this country are low by historical standards and much lower than other industrialized countries. There is absolutely no need to default, now or in the foreseeable future. And if we don’t want to increase taxes, the budget can be balanced entirely on reducing the rate of growth of Medicare (which is part of Obamacare) and cuts in defense-related spending.Report

    • North in reply to Robert Cheeks says:

      @Robert Cheeks, Bob, funny, I thought the Tea Party campaigned on actually getting government cuts enacted and balancing the budget. If all they do is sit around and kvetch at Obama the voters are gonna be pissed.Report

      • MFarmer in reply to North says:

        Yes, they got House control Tuesday — what’s up? Where’s the beef? On 24, Jack saves the entire world in one day. It’s been three days and we’re still in debt!Report

        • Jaybird in reply to MFarmer says:

          @MFarmer, when they raise the debt ceiling can we start bitching?

          Or, as North implies, is that something that is as necessary as TARP lest the economies of the free world collapse?Report

        • North in reply to MFarmer says:

          @MFarmer, Mike me lad, if you’ll consult Br. Cheeks post to which I replied you’ll note he asserted that the key point of the new GOP majority in the house is to stop Obama from passing legislation and to make Obama look bad. Surely you’re well aware that the current default direction of the country’s finances (aka what happens if no new legislation is passed) is not fiscally prudent to say the least. I merely inquired as to why the GOP didn’t campaign on those points rather than claiming they were going to fix things?

          There’s no impatience here from me. I’ve patiently waited in vain for them to present a concrete plan for resolving the budget issue ever since they got booted out of office. I’ll wait to see if they present one now that they’re in a position to actually do something. Delighted as I would be to see otherwise I anticipate that the GOP will present some kind of plan for cutting spending sometime shortly after they’re voted out of office again (whenever that will be).Report

          • Robert Cheeks in reply to North says:

            @North, Dear palsy, let me take issue with your pronouncement that the GOP said they were going to do thus and so. My besotted recollection is that the beloved TPers were inclined to work assiduously to STOP future Barry-commie legislation. For me, palsy, that’s about all I expect of them considering they only hold the House..yes/no? They can also take every opportunity to illustrate that Barry’s not one of the sharpest knives in the drawer too.
            Martha sends her regards, prayers, and motherly love!Report

            • North in reply to Robert Cheeks says:

              @Robert Cheeks, Last I checked Bob the House drafts the budgets. The GOP and TP aren’t going to be able to cry lack of power as an excuse if they don’t live up to their campaign promises and propose actual steps to fiscal solvency. Will it get filibustered or vetoed? Sure that’s a problem for them but is it a problem that prevents them from proposing anything. Of course not. The problem for them is that their policy positions are contradictory and incoherent. They want to get damn government hands out of their social security and Medicare. They want to balance the budget by extending the Bush tax cuts. What do they want to cut to close the budget gap? They shuffle their feet and mutter something about discretionary spending and foreign aid. That works fine for campaigning obviously but they are the House majority. Invective isn’t going to cut it and they campaigned on fixing things.

              My warmest to Mrs. Martha as always.Report

            • Robert Cheeks in reply to Robert Cheeks says:

              @Robert Cheeks, I do agree with your analysis of the House fiscal function. And, I think you agree with me that there’s going to be bloodshed between the TP reps and the RINO reps in the House even before they focus on the commie-dems.
              I’m not aware that the TPers want to mess with medicare/ss, in the sense of seniors who’ve involuntarily contributed for as lifetime. Rather, I think, they’re targeting the periphery spending that’s been tacked on by the CD/and that whacky Bush with his ‘no child left behind’ silliness. Methinks there’s a great deal of millions to be shed in that and other arenas..yes/no.
              But, the fact is they MUST begin the process of CUTTING…and I don’t care whose feelings get hurt. I believe bro JB said 10% across the board works for me and no more additional spending. It’s either that or we’re all living in Sorosia..and that would foul my day.
              For me, and correct me if I’m wrong, the key is the contretemps between the two GOP factions. If the righteous TPers win then you’ll see a reduction in gummint that may or may not sit well with the electorate. If the RINOS/Neocons win its back to democrat-lite. We’ll know pretty quick I should think…by Feb/March?Report

            • North in reply to Robert Cheeks says:

              @Robert Cheeks, quite possibly Bob. Obama and his debt comission have some impact if he’s serious as well of course though it’d be very interesting to see what the TP would make of a 1990’s style compromise.Report

            • Robert Cheeks in reply to Robert Cheeks says:

              @Robert Cheeks, There’s nothing in Imam Barry’s actions the past two years that indicates he’s even considering some fiscally conservative adventure. Frankly, I’m of the school that believes he’s the spawn of Satan sent to destroy America….the MFer is a lacky of totalitarian interests. I trust I’m not being hyperbolic!!!!!!Report

              • North in reply to Robert Cheeks says:

                Hyperbolic? You? Just a tich I’d say.

                And while I was very young at the time I remember Bush Sr.’s supporters saying the same thing about the Democratic congress for the first deal that balanced the budget in the 90’s and I very well remember the GOPers saying that about Clinton for the final part. As you said though, we should see in a couple months either way.Report

  8. 62across says:

    Well put, Jason.

    It is indeed disturbing, but I wonder what you (and others here) suggest might be done about it. There really is no “standing on the outside” since ordering off the two party menu invariably leaves you with the one of the two you despise the most. I’ve been choosing the lesser of two evils my whole voting career and I’m tired of it.

    I’ve been wishing, hoping, praying for a third party to rise up since I cheered on John B. Anderson in 1980. I’d like some concrete actions I could take.Report

    • Pat Cahalan in reply to 62across says:


      Run for office?

      I mean, I shudder at the thought myself, but one of the undeniable “STFU” pointed at you, and me, and others who are dissatisfied with the two-party system is, “Hey, if you’re so all fired convinced all the politicians are screwups, why don’t you run, Mr. Genius? Afraid of getting stomped in the marketplace of ideas?”

      I think I have to accept the fact that I’m a free rider in this sense. I think the system is broken, my vote is clearly not enough to fix it, thus I need to go one step further. I’m not necessarily willing to do that, and that’s on me.

      I think 🙂Report

      • 62across in reply to Pat Cahalan says:

        @Pat Cahalan, I was hoping it wouldn’t come to that.

        But, say against all odds I won office and as an Independent to boot (I can be charming and persuasive when I really put my mind to it and I could win the lottery, so I’d have the funds for my warchest). Once in office, I’d still have to join one of the two caucuses. I’d be eviscerated!!

        No, it’s going to take a mass movement. A third party or a parliamentary system is pined for before, during and after every election. Why can’t the idea get any traction?Report

  9. Zac says:

    As someone who’s fairly politically engaged, I’ll never understand why some people pine for a third major party. What makes you think three groups of idiots would be any better than two?Report

    • Pat Cahalan in reply to Zac says:


      Right now, I have to vote for Tweedle Dum or Tweedle Dee. One of the reasons why party A can run Tweedle Dum is that the opponent is Tweedle Dee. Throw a third candidate in there, and the dynamic changes.

      No guarantee that it would necessarily be better, of course. The equilibrium over time might still be “rock and a hard place, but now with anvils!” But at the very least once could choose to beat one’s head against a brick wall, a cement wall, or a steel girder.

      Obviously, it’s time for me to retire for the evening.Report

      • Katherine in reply to Pat Cahalan says:

        Look at Canada if you want to know what a three-party system would be like. We do have the NDP to offer some variety in policy, but they’re never going to be running the government, and the average citizen finds them just as annoying and politician-y as the major parties.

        And yet, we cling to the assumption that if the Green can get seats (giving us a five-party system), then things will really change.

        Either inherently unprincipled people tend to pursue political power, or the process by which political power is gained pushes people to be unprincipled and shallow. I’m inclined to think it’s the latter.Report