George Sarant

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Posts Tagged ‘division

THE US MIDTERM ELECTION RESULTS

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The general consensus, even among hostile media, is that the midterm election results went relatively well for Trump and the Republicans, due largely to an increased majority in the Senate, and a less-than-disastrous loss of the House, particularly in historical terms.  While there is some truth to this, a look under the hood for a more detailed analysis of the results shows some problematic conditions for Republicans. 

First, there is a fairly widespread pattern in the margins of victory across the board. In Democratic Party dominated “blue” states the Democratic candidates won by very large, landslide margins. In contrast, in too many Republican-leaning “red”states the victory margins were much thinner, sometimes razor-thin. That ought to set off alarm bells, particularly where the margins have been narrowing, as it suggests a potential transition of the state to a more competitive status, if not towards the other party. This applies to both the House and Senate (Governorships are more fluid due to state and local conditions). It means that Democrats are more competitive in “red” states than Republicans are in “blue” states. 

Second, Republican congressional losses were concentrated in the suburbs, once the base of the party. It is possible that many of these seats can be regained in subsequent elections, as long as they remain “swing” districts, but others are slipping away. The present political landscape makes it easier for Democrats to make incursion in Republican territory than the reverse.

Third, Republicans cannot count on the Democrats to self-destruct. Although the “resistance” and the far-Left have gotten a great deal of attention, that does not translate into public support. But Democrats played it smart in this election by fielding a large number of center-moderate candidates, including a significant number of veterans. They avoided identity politics and other assorted evils previously foisted upon us. This enabled them to win swing and Republican-leaning districts. If the Democrats follow this strategy in the next presidential election it will become a very difficult contest for Trump and the Republicans. 

On this basis it is fair to say that most Americans are, for the most part, terminally moderate. The idea that the country is “deeply divided” is an illusion that many have been sold on by the media.   “Division” is inherent in democracy. On almost any question there is going to be a majority and a minority, resulting in a division of the house to resolve a question. There may be intense divisions between activist minorities on both sides, but it is a mistake to conflate this with the pubic at large. For all the ideological noise, elections are often decided at the last minute by votes cast by people who are oblivious, disengaged, and uncommitted. For most people have a life outside of politics, where they pursue a myriad of interests, and seldom identify intensely with any political cause.  

Written by georgesarant

November 9, 2018 at 9:03 PM

ARE WE REALLY “DEEPLY DIVIDED?”

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We are not as divided as some commentators assume. To be sure there are political differences, but those differences are most intense among the people (around 20%) who regularly follow politics. An even smaller number are passionate partisans. Most others are pretty apolitical and more attuned to the day to day life around them, which may turn out to be the more sensible use of one’s limited lifespan.

There are always divisions of opinion about any topic you can think of, i.e. sports, music, movies, tv, hobbies, local organizations, which way the toilet paper roll should face, etc., etc. In fact those other things are what life is really about, and people who may be at loggerheads politically nevertheless share common ground in many other areas, while their political cousins may be oblivious to, or on another side in different areas.

The people who fret most about “division” are themselves frequently part of the problem, although to them it is  those other people who don’t see things the right way. It is only possible to buy into the idea of deep division if you believe that everything in life is political. There is some of that on all sides, but it is especially pronounced on the Left (as distinct from “liberal” in this case), where true believers don’t see any distinction between the political and the social, which in turn then applies to state and society. To them everything is political, and they take the measure of things through an ideological continuum. They inject politics into all aspects of life, ruining much of it for everyone else. Ironically they are the gift that keeps on giving for the Right, for they engender far more annoyance than sympathy. That is why personally I am not so much “Right” as I am anti-Left, for the reasons indicated above.

Excess political passion is like a social disease. The fundamental basis of any ideology is virtually always irrational because its foundation can be distilled to a hierarchy of values. Values are what’s left when we can’t agree on the facts. A civilized society can address many problems based upon a common understanding of the facts, which at any given moment are true or false, and involve some degree of rational resolution. But why doesn’t everything work this way? It is because the remainder are based not on facts, but values.

Society functions because there is a common consensus regarding the way many things work. We can agree on the time of day, or turning right when the sign points that way, or noise coming from some direction, but not whether it is good or bad, because that involves a value judgement.  When division of opinion occurs that is based upon values, or where a particular value belongs in the hierarchy, there is no obvious, easy rational solution and because of that we have conflict. Then the problem will have to be addressed either democratically and peacefully, through compromise, or otherwise through force, which often involves violence or repression. Some  at the extremes become so incensed with regard to others that they will consider the latter as justified if it is in keeping with their viewpoint.

But we know that in the long term nothing is permanent and the future is unknowable. Excess passion is simply wasted energy. As things change continuously we may find ourselves strange bedfellows under new circumstances, and yesterday’s opponent may be today’s friend. The political spectrum is not carved in stone and the issues of the day often change. This is common sense to people who are less politically inclined, so most of the “division” the dividers fret about is happening on some other planet.

Written by georgesarant

April 7, 2018 at 10:08 PM

GETTING BUSHED

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George W. Bush made a statement today that no doubt will be widely praised in the liberal media as courageous and realistic for “breaking his silence” snd coming forward to broadly criticize the Trump era; never mind that he has a good deal of responsibility for creating it in the first place, as well as for the election of Democrat Barack Obama.  His presidency was an overall failure and a disaster for conservatives and Republicans who supported him, who only managed to recover because his successor was hardly any better. There is simply no way around this. Giving credit where it is due, he did acquit himself well in the wake of the 9/11 attack, but it was downhill from there. He is also a likable guy, of the sort you could easily share a beer with, he was honest, and has a lovely wife. But that’s about it.

The “divisions” he essentially lays on Trump in fact became ossified during his presidency, starting with his failure to unify the country when he had the opportunity and did little to move it forward. The fact that his successor only made this worse does not relieve him of his own responsibility. His foreign policy was disastrous, and cost us dearly, in terms of treasure, and lives lost while aggressively pursuing an ill-advised policy of nation-building and promoting democratic freedom all over the world, whether feasible or not. Those of us who supported him at the time simply can no longer ignore the fact that he misled us, took us into an unnecessary war, and in its wake left the Middle East in chaos. As much as one might argue that his successor let all that effort go to waste, and made it worse due his distaste for the war in Iraq, the fact remains that it was Bush who started it all. It may be painful for some to admit this, but by any objective standard the conclusion is unavoidable.

He managed to alienate an entire generation of young people from his party, while also causing it to lose control of congress by his policy failures. When together they had an opportunity to get things done with a reform conservative agenda they completely squandered it and accomplished nothing.  Instead he greatly increased the scope and power of the federal government, while claiming the opposite. Domestically he was a lot like Richard Nixon; using conservative rhetoric to gain support while actually pursuing generally liberal policies. When he did do anything that was somewhat associated with the right, it was something idiotic, like cutting off birth control assistance for poor countries. He ran up the deficit with nothing to show for it, precipitated a recession, and presided over an unnecessary financial crisis. While much of the cause of the latter can be attributed to the policies of his predecessor, particularly in mortgage finance, his administration did nothing to stem the growth of the problem or introduce any fiscal discipline,.

Overall then, he not only accomplished very little, but was actually counterproductive in many areas. As the epitome of establishment Republicans and followed by two lackluster candidates from the same mold, the base of the party ultimately became so frustrated that when the opportunity arose they gravitated to the most anti-establishment candidate to come along,

namely Donald Trump. They were so tired of being Bushwhacked they nominated the most improbable candidate to ever arise, and one who otherwise would never have been chosen. It was a total loss of confidence in the establishment along with a desire to avoid another Bush-style presidency that led to this. I am not suggesting anything about the wisdom of any of these choices but simply trying to describe how we wound up where we are today, thanks in so many ways to George Bush. For him to now decry what he himself had a major role in precipitating is simply disingenuous to say the least.

Written by georgesarant

October 20, 2017 at 2:14 AM