One of the most interesting aspects of 2017 so far to me is the radicalization of the Vox set.
The Vox set are usually who come to mind when I think of earnest do-gooders and also “neo-liberals.” They sincerely believed that good government policies could make the lives of the American people better and that these policies would be rewarded by voters on election days. “Neo-liberal” because Vox also believes in the kind of too clever by half policies that are supposed to “nudge” people to better decision making like the health exchanges in the ACA are supposed to get people to shop for new and better insurance every year. They also believed in the spirit of bi-partisanship comity more than any other group.
But instead they are finding that good policies are often not rewarded at the polls. Ezra Klein is dismayed that the Republican Party can be silent about what is in their highly unpopular health-care bill and still have a good chance that the bill will pass. He has gone far enough to declare that Trump’s Presidency is an American crisis.
Matt Yglesias declared that Trump has lost the era of nothing matters politics.
Since taking office, his signature values — showmanship, shamelessness, and corruption — have spread like kudzu in official Washington. It’s now a country where Cabinet secretaries go on television to lie and claim that a $600 billion cut to Medicaid won’t cause anyone to lose coverage. It’s a country where the speaker of the House introduces an amendment to erode protections for patients with preexisting conditions and then immediately tweets that it’s just been “VERIFIED” (by whom?) that the opposite is happening. Republican senators who a couple of months ago were criticizing the House bill’s Medicaid cuts as too harsh are now warming up to a Senate bill whose cuts are even harsher.
The watchwords of Trump-era politics are “LOL nothing matters.” If you’re in a jam, you just lie about it. If you’re caught in an embarrassing situation, you create a new provocation and hope that people move on. Everything is founded, most of all, on the assumption that the basic tribal impulses of negative partisanship will keep everyone on their side, while knowing that gerrymandering means Republicans will win every toss-up election. If you happened to believe that Republicans in office would deliver on their health care promises, well, you might be interested in a degree from Trump University.
There are a few ways to interpret Matt’s observations. Is he saying that the Republicans are heading to massive suicide by ramming through an unpopular bill (albeit they are rolling out the horrible aspects of their health care bill very slowly)? Or is predicting that the Republicans will pass their bill, it will be a disaster including for their base but it won’t matter because of negative partisanship and gerrymandering and Republicans will lie through their teeth? There is evidence that partisanship causes changes in who you find more trustworthy and truthful.
Trump is not going to be around forever and the center-left are not going to be in a minority forever despite how bleak it seems now for us. But I do wonder how any spirit of comity could return to the nation. My own opinions on Republicans are rather low right now. I hear the so-called moderate express doubts and concerns about the more extreme House and Senate proposals but they vote for them anyway because the so-called moderates fear getting a primary challenge from the right and ending up life Eric Cantor. So I did not rejoice when Dean Heller expressed opposition to the AHCA yesterday, I heard his objections as saying “bribe me” to Mitch McConnell. I’m also starting to think that political civility is a chump’s game where the Republicans get to call you “the party of Satan” but then get upset and outraged when heated rhetoric and barbs at sent their way.
So what happens when the Democrats become the majority party again and control Congress and the White House? Do we become the adults in the room and try to get Republicans on board with our bills through numerous amendments and meetings and have them not vote for it anyway? Or do we just say “fuck them” and ignore the Republicans like they are doing to us now? I’m curious about anyone who believes that the best course of action is to reach out to the Republicans especially those of you in the Democratic Party. It seems clear to me that the voting public does not necessarily reward maturity and reaching out despite what we want to believe.
I don’t think the center-left is capable of the wild lies and distortions that Trump is capable of. I think we should remain dedicated to offering good and positive policies. I just don’t think it is worthwhile to bend over backwards to get some Republicans on board anymore or to offer very moderate candidates for positions on the judiciary anymore.