Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Jonathan Rauch Makes Uncomfortable Sense

Jonathan Rauch over at The Atlantic has an interesting article, whose basic premise is that all that old-timey political party hack and back room stuff was actually good for us. Someone over at Volokh put it up where I could see it.  I have already received some disagreement about it, which is fine. Rauch does leave out a couple of his own sacred cows, but tries to be even-handed. Whenever a liberal can bring himself to refer to Obama as "pandering" during the 2008 election, and as much as admitting Barack did nothing like what he promised afterward, I give credit.

My mind went first to the negative things that resulted from all those earlier Tammany Hall, machine-politics types of things - but contrasting that to now, I'm not sure it's worse.  Eliminating pork-barrel spending was always a popular cry, but it was never the problem.  Secondly, I thought of the non-corrupt countries of Northern Europe, who don't seem to have all this deal-making, and wondered if Rauch's offenders really are the problem. I also wondered that if Rauch's insight is a true one, or even a half-true one, whether this tells us anything about Christian denominations versus independent churches.

All that you can chew over yourselves.  One of the few new bits I bring to the discussion is the discovery of the politiphobes, who believe there are simple and obvious solutions to America's problems if corrupt politicians would simply enact them.  This reminded me strongly of the natural-healing and anti-vaxxer crowds, who believe there are simple treatments for all our health problems, but they are being suppressed by Big Pharma and Western Medicine.  I wondered how much overlap there are between those groups and the Trump and Bernie crowds.  Among my personal acquaintances, it is true for my #1 Trump and #1 Bernie supporters, followed by #2 Bernie, #3 Trump and sprinkling further on.  Hard to say, though, as I often don't know enough of a person's other views.

In my online groups, I have too little data, because I have so few representatives of each of those circles in the Venn Diagram that I don't trust it.

The essay did emphasise for me again that Trump is chaotic, and that is a great part of his appeal.  I had put it a few months ago that his supporters liked that he would shake things up, wasn't afraid to say what he thought, and would be a force for disruption in Washington, which needs disruption.  I hadn't quite gotten from that to the next step of identifying it as "chaos."  From a D&D perspective, does that make him Chaotic Neutral while Hillary is Lawful Evil? That, as Reverend Jim would say, is a tough choice.

In discussing chaos, I also was reminded of Chesterton's Fence, which came up in a related context today.

Well, that's a lot of possibilities to think about and comment on, isn't it?  Probably too many, and hard to settle into a clear path.  My apologies.  I think you'll work it out, though.


james said...

Bottom line: no ideal system. And speaking of Chesterton:

" To avoid the possible chance of hereditary diseases or such things, we have abandoned hereditary monarchy. The King of England is chosen like a juryman upon an official rotation list. Beyond that the whole system is quietly despotic, and we have not found it raise a murmur."

"Do you really mean," asked the President, incredulously, "that you choose any ordinary man that comes to hand and make him despot—that you trust to the chance of some alphabetical list...."

"And why not?" cried Barker. "Did not half the historical nations trust to the chance of the eldest sons of eldest sons, and did not half of them get on tolerably well? To have a perfect system is impossible; to have a system is indispensable. All hereditary monarchies were a matter of luck: so are alphabetical monarchies. "

Sam L. said...

It seems like nobody wants to consider Chesterson's Fence except as something that must be torn down.