How to resolve the contradiction that people see conspiracy, corruption, deceit, fraud, and failure behind every word every politician says with the cultic adoration and relentless craving for purity sought out by the same cynics?
This contradiction seems to infect all corners of the electorate these days. But surely the Internet must have something to do with it. The Internet may not replace social life for everyone, but it adds a new dimension, one where you needn’t interact with anyone that challenges your point of view. In other words, we laugh at college students creating physical “safe spaces” but we seek them out online routinely.
The result is a black and white view where all means are justified against the dark side and every doubt is given to the good side. A moderator asking an unfair question deserves to be fired; an outlier poll means the pollster is corrupt; a vote decades ago on a complex bill means the person can never be questioned.
Part of this too must be the obsession with process. People seem to be taking an unusual interest in delegate rules and we are all concerned with whether they correspond to the (new) benchmark of whether the most people voted that way with almost no reference to the question of whether this process produces the best nominees and even less to whether it produces better presidents.
Has anyone asked whether a low turnout election in unrepresentative states almost a year from the general election, no matter how overwhelmingly their pronouncements are, a good predictor of presidential quality? Has anyone raised the point that presidents and presidential candidates surf the waves of political change, they don’t create them?
Anal insistence on a process that no one ever formally agreed to connected with an unrelenting purity on every issue is a standard no president has ever met and never will.
This is clearly, plainly, obviously demonstrated in the Republican primaries. Donald Trump is winning a plurality of his party’s vote and may gain a majority of its delegates. Does anyone believe for a moment that he would make a better president than John Kasich, Jeb Bush, Lindsay Graham, Mitt Romney, Paul Ryan, Marco Rubio or even Ted Cruz?
Yet we are being told that for the party to “steal” the nomination from Trump would somehow be wrong. Implicit in this is also the concept that every vote for a primary candidate is a vote that means my candidate or #never the other guy, when in fact most Republican primary voters would prefer almost any of their other candidates over any Democrat.
It would not surprise me to see this in 4 or 8 years in the Democratic Party. We’ve been able to say “both sides don’t do it” for a long time now, but there are clear signs that purity is being demanded of candidates at all levels on the Democratic side as well. Maybe it’s that Fox News and talk radio gave the Republicans their own echo chamber several years before the Internet became the Democratic one.
The prior pinnacle of Democratic purity was Russ Feingold’s attempt to defund the Iraq war in 2007. Even Bernie Sanders voted for the final bill when the amendment failed (something neither Obama nor Clinton did).
Obama has faced the attack of brogressive and demands for purity as well, though it’s hard to separate a demand for fighting fire with fire here from a separate demand for purity on its own.
There hasn’t been a remotely serious primary challenge to a sitting president since 1992 when Pat Buchanan almost won New Hampshire. You have to go back to 1980 to find anyone but the incumbent president winning a state.
Something tells me that if Hillary Clinton is elected president this year that because she will inevitably fail to enact Sweden, just as Obama failed to enact Sweden even with a filibuster proof senate majority, she will face a serious primary challenge, perhaps from Bernie Sanders.
We have barely survived having one party controlled by black and white idealists. I hope pragmatism can yet win the day in the Democratic party. But the presidential primaries are just one indication. Clinton seems to be handling that fine. At the lower levels, the party’s constituent coalition members are increasingly demanding ever higher levels of purity even for candidates at the local level, denying anyone aspiring to higher office the chance to build consensus and govern smartly.
Would you believe that one of America’s most approved of Governors, Jerry Brown, who recently sign a $15 minimum wage law, who talked California into raising taxes for education, and (the list goes on) is actually not well lived by the left?
Yes, Governor “Moonbeam” is not popular among the progressive left in California.
In California, you might win enough elections naming purist liberals. Nationwide? Only the purists themselves believe that if people “only knew the truth” they’d turnout at 90% and cast out the other side. Purists on both sides believe that.