Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Win at all costs

Sometimes, I wish I were living in Britain:

“Since the administration is trying to do a serious number of bad things, everything that slows it down stops another bad thing it wants to do. Now, there is an argument against just saying ‘no’ or just stalling on everything. That is why, ideally, you can have a fight about an issue — Harold Koh’s thinking on international law is a serious issue that affects gun rights, for example — and you can slow the bad stuff down. That’s the best of both worlds.”

That's the GOP's uberfuhrer, Grover Norquist, who seems to have some sort of aversion to democracy. This "win at all costs, don't give an inch" mentality just grinds me. It doesn't have to be this way. We seem to have fallen into this groove by which victorious parties are prevented from governing through the use of roadblocks that were never forseen by the founders, and I'd argue that the founders' plan is already out of date, it's too unwieldy. I suspect that the founders themselves would agree with me, were they around. (And the gun rights thing is hilarious--somehow I doubt they think that in Switzerland.)

All in all, I much prefer the fair play ethic that more or less defines Britain. When I think about it, the traditional boogeymen of the left are correct, but not as a matter of inevitability so much as historical accident. Capitalism, for example, need not be an enemy. Lots of countries' business sectors have strong senses of corporate responsibility. Hell, American business felt the same way after WWII until roughly the 1970s. I'm beginning to think that the problem is a cultural one, and that must be our battlefield, though obviously doing things like regulating Wall Street are important.

I have hope that my generation will change the equation to some extent, but I keep coming back to Niebuhr, when he talked about how we had always been able to rely on prosperity to avoid answering thorny questions of social justice. Our prosperity, of course, won't last forever, and when it ends I suspect America will move more toward a social democratic, European model of economic organization.

The Man, The Myth, The Bio

East Bay, California, United States
Problem: I have lots of opinions on politics and culture that I need to vent. If I do not do this I will wind up muttering to myself, and that's only like one or two steps away from being a hobo. Solution: I write two blogs. A political blog that has some evident sympathies (pro-Obama, mostly liberal though I dissent on some issues, like guns and trade) and a culture blog that does, well, cultural essays in a more long-form manner. My particular thing is taking overrated things (movies, mostly, but other things too) down a peg and putting underrated things up a peg. I'm sort of the court of last resort, and I tend to focus on more obscure cultural phenomena.