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A pox on both their tribes!
Posted by: McQ on Monday, October 16, 2006

Probably the most apt description of Congress specifically and the political parties in general that I've yet seen:
Partisanship particularly increased after the 1994 elections and then the appearance of the first unified Republican government since the 1950s. Now it is tribal warfare. The consequences are deadly serious. Party and ideology routinely trump institutional interests and responsibilities. Regular order — the set of rules, norms and traditions designed to ensure a fair and transparent process — was the first casualty. The results: No serious deliberation. No meaningful oversight of the executive. A culture of corruption. And grievously flawed policy formulation and implementation.
And don't think it would be any different with a Democratic Congress and President.

Politics has, over the years, deteriorated into tribal warfare and the hyper-partisanship has resulted in many cases in which party interests have trumped national interests and responsibilities. Both sides are just as guilty. That's why neither side is particularly trusted and that trust is eroding more and more each passing day.

There just seem to be no statesmen left. Or real leaders. And if we're honest with ourselves, we don't really reward those who lead in politics. Leaders have to take controversial stands and accept the risk that comes with doing so. Anymore we don't reward principle in politics - the guy or gal who makes a stand on the belief that he is doing what is best for the country, even if it isn't what his party may want at the time.

Nope ... honest and moral decisions in the national interest are no longer in demand nor are those who act as statesmen instead of politicians.

Instead we seem to be content to pick those smiling, glad-handing meat sacks who couldn't lead a starving dog to food and who really have no interest outside of acquiring and keeping power. How else does one explain a "career politician"? Or K Street? That certainly wasn't the way the system was originally designed to work, was it?

Instead of leaders we now have, for the most part, 535 mediocrities who don't and won't rock the boat and can be counted on, for the most part, to toe the party line, no matter how ridiculous, partisan or poorly thought out it may be — as long as it helps their party and is a means for them to keep their seat.

If you go by what we have, you'd have to conclude that what we want are petty, bickering, small-minded (and not particularly bright but politically astute) partisans who will use any advantage in the name of politics and party to win and keep power for 'their side', even if, in the long-run, it hurts the country. It has become all about being able to say "we're number 1".

It has become all about the tribe.

There is no big picture any more. Just two competing little partisan worldviews in continual and eternal conflict, each trying harder than the other to stay on top.

Statesmen. Bi-partisan. National interest. All words and phrases which, if the trend continues, will eventually end up as obsolete terms. And when they do, "American" may not be far behind.

Makes you want to shout, "keep up the good work", doesn't it?

[Consider this my yearly "I'm fed up with these a$$holes" screed. Sometimes you just need to vent.]
 
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The sad thing is that the partisanship and rancor are contrary to the fundamental core values of democracy: compromise, a toleration of different opinion, and recognition that if the other party wins it’s not disaster. Yet perhaps things aren’t as bad as it seems. There are a lot of politicians in DC who aren’t caught up in the game — my state has Senators Snowe and Collins (each GOP) and Representative Allen (Democratic) who are independent and principled. We had a Republican Senator who later served as Secretary of Defense for Democrat Bill Clinton. If you want an example of "how politics should be," look north to Maine.

The key in politics and political discourse is to be honest, principled, don’t carry grudges, and recognize that at base everyone (or 98% of the people) want what is best for the country, even if they disagree with what that is. Don’t give into the emotion, temptation to demonize, and "game" mentality. But that seems hard for a lot of people to do these days, and the result is your very justified rant.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
"recognition that if the other party wins it’s not disaster"

That seems to be less and less true. Furthermore, it may be that the level of rancor is indicative of the growing stakes - government has more power and influence over us than ever. It may also be indicative that the population is more educated about this power and is either more leery of its expression (and subsequent costs) by others or more interested in expressing it for its own particular ends. Our culture is deeply submerged in the notion that government is there to solve most of our problems, including the ’problem’ of guaranteeing a job and market.

I also fail to see what a Republican Senator becoming Sec. of Def. for Clinton illustrates. Based on the lifetime status of most elected federal reps, I’d be far more impressed with someone who quit early and divorced themselves of politics, a true citizen representative. That would be an example of ’how politics should be.’

 
Written By: Unknown
URL: http://
Instead of leaders we now have, for the most part, 535 mediocrities who don’t and won’t rock the boat and can be counted on, for the most part, to toe the party line, no matter how ridiculous, partisan or poorly thought out it may be — as long as it helps their party and is a means for them to keep their seat.
Actually, I would argue (and have done so) that the situation is even worse than this. Congressmen "not rocking the boat" appears on its face as toeing the respective party line, but the underlying agenda is to keep the decision-making ability firmly in the hands of the Senate and House — the political battles center on who gets to the hold the reins.

There is one truly bi-partisan game in DC: keeping power centered there.
 
Written By: MichaelW
URL: http://asecondhandconjecture.com
Where where the critics in the Primaries?
The real tragedy is that so many incumbents, like my own Jerry Lewis ($-CA-41?)(er, R, not $), had no opposition.

We need more incumbents losing in primaries.
 
Written By: Tom Grey - Liberty Dad
URL: http://tomgrey.motime.com
I also fail to see what a Republican Senator becoming Sec. of Def. for Clinton illustrates. Based on the lifetime status of most elected federal reps, I’d be far more impressed with someone who quit early and divorced themselves of politics, a true citizen representative. That would be an example of ’how politics should be.’
That has happened in a few instances, I think Congressman Penny from Minnesota is an example (if I am remembering his name right). Washington DC is a weird city, and it draws too many people who use power like a drug to bolster their self-esteem. I worked there from 1983-85 as an aide for a Senator and decided that I just couldn’t take the power games and the total lack of principle in the way the city operated. Right after accompanying the Senator on a "fact finding" trip to Greece and Turkey (the stories I could tell about that trip...) I quit. My dad thought I was insane, especially when the next job I got was as a night manager for a Rocky Rococo’s pizza in Brooklyn Park, Minnesota. But you know, there was something real and honest about making pizza and selling it to people.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
Not to mention that Rocky Rococo’s was really good (albeit expensive) pizza. I was in that Brooklyn Park RR several times when I lived up there.

 
Written By: Unknown
URL: http://
But you know, there was something real and honest about making pizza and selling it to people
Most pizzerias in the NY tri-state area usually have 1 or more illegals working the back....lol so much for honest
 
Written By: Shark
URL: http://
"recognition that if the other party wins it’s not disaster"

That seems to be less and less true.
I don’t think ten thousand words could sum it up better than the exchange above.

We all know why politicians are playing dirty, that’s simple, they want to win, they want to gain or hold power. Nothing particularly new or complicated about that.

What is new, and what is complicated are the depths to which people with no personal power to gain will go, or follow.

I swear, and I believe this from the bottom of my heart, if the Swift Boating of John Kerry had happened just 15 years ago, he would have won in a landslide and everyone but a few hardcases would have gotten as far away from a campaign that backed these guys up, encouraged them, or were just helped by them.

Today, people will cheer the truly revolting if it will help their guys win because we have become so polarized that the folks on the ground, ordinary citizens on each side really do seem to think it is an absolute disaster if the other side wins.

As apathethic as we are as a nation in general, those of us that vote are far from apathetic, we have engaged, and with the internet, 24 hour news cycle, spin management from hell, it’s like we are each of us becoming as bad as the politicians that actually have something to gain or lose. We may be too engaged. Maybe it really is better to ignore government unless things are going well, and then get a new one. Now politicians are working us, the politically engaged, and finding ways to get us to vote for more bad leadership.

It really has become a political system of escalation and normal folks are agreeing that the ends justifies the means. If a lie keeps the evil other guys out of power, then keep lying.

Our system desperately needs to be shaken up, the deck shuffled, or does it?

I have been hawking ideas to shake up the system, and I get shot down by the vast majority of the people here, and everywhere else.

So we need to either get over ourselves and recognize that we have exactly the government we deserve, or we need to support an agenda that can change it.

For my part, I’ll vote, but I will actively and agressively campaign for any candidate that makes publically financed elections a priority.

Show me a better way to shake up the system, and I’m in.

Anybody got any ideas? Maybe someone will tell us how third party candidates can change everything, as if K-Street won’t buy them or destroy them as soon as they gain any ground’

Cap
 
Written By: Captin Sarcastic
URL: http://
I think there’s a problem with Q and O’s server. Cap S.’s post got cut off before he had a chance to mention: Fahrenheit 911, Rathergate and the general pop culture/Hollywood/news media ’Swift Boating’ of Bush. On a side note, you need to see a cardiologist and soon if you and your heart are convinced that Kerry lost because of the Swift Boaters. Seriously.

Anybody got any ideas?
Yeah, how about forcing schools to teach economics. First lesson: there is no such thing as free healthcare and that free lunch school is providing isn’t free, either.
 
Written By: Come on, Please
URL: http://
Furthermore, it may be that the level of rancor is indicative of the growing stakes - government has more power and influence over us than ever.
Very true, Government is way too powerful and so it is the prize worth anything to obtain.

Rank partisanship goes hand in hand with the demonization of political opponents which is the first step toward violence, Lets hope it does not come down to that but the left has been violent before in America.

Let me state that although both sides have added toward these problems it is the left who have been the most vile in their attacks and demonization of their opponents and that has been going on for some time.

I have heard right wingers calling democrats commies and talking about how dumb they are, but I have heard Democrats comparing right wingers with Nazi’s almost since I was born, in addition, right wingers want to destroy the environment, starve old people and children, drag black people to death, force women into pregnancy, establish a theocratic empire, invade nations for oil etc.

There really has never been any comity on the left. The rancor we hear now is because of their political problems have made them angrier than usual.
 
Written By: kyle N
URL: http://impudent.blognation.us/blog
For my part, I’ll vote, but I will actively and agressively campaign for any candidate that makes publically financed elections a priority.

Show me a better way to shake up the system, and I’m in.
OK, here goes: Get the government out of the election racket altogether. NO more campaign finance reform of any type, since they have all been remarkable failures.
Only full disclosure of who is giving what. Thats it.

That would be infinitely better than any more useless rounds of campaign finance reform.
 
Written By: kyle N
URL: http://impudent.blognation.us/blog
Why is everybody here pretending this is some new phenomenon? Politics has always been an ugly game and nostalia for some bygone era where politics was a nice polite game where gentlemen and statesmen worked selflessly for the comon good is just revisionist history. It has never existed.

Obviously none of you were alive in the 1790’s, the 1830’s or the 1980’s for that matter. Not to mention the most embarrassing era in American history when 650,000 men died in a partisan political dispute, followed by another 15 years of revenge politics that resembled a South American banana republic.

The real problem today is that this is all show. In reality all of the politicians go to the same parties, talk to the same people, are bribed by the same lobbyists, and end up doing basically the same things to our tax dollars, Republican or Democrat. I would be happy with REAL partisan politics.

What is actually being observed here is that there is a character flaw evident in anybody who wants to run for office in the first place. Decent, honest, intelligent people would never want such a job in the first place, and any statistical anomoly who ends up in Washington with a soul will soon get pulled into the machine and lose it quickly.

Nothing new here folks, move along.
 
Written By: DS
URL: http://
Consider, however , when all this hype are partisanship started; 1994. It seems to me that we’re all this started is when the Democrats lost power. It all became about the tribe, at that point. I suggest further, that what hyper partisanship you have seen on the part of the Republicans, has actually been in direct reaction to that of, and as an instinctive defense against, the Democrats.

The effect ends up being much the same, but it’s important that we don’t lose sight of the cause of the problem. The cause of the problem was the reaction of the Democrats to having lost power. It’s really that simple.
 
Written By: Bithead
URL: http://
Consider, however , when all this hype are partisanship started; 1994. It seems to me that we’re all this started is when the Democrats lost power. It all became about the tribe, at that point. I suggest further, that what hyper partisanship you have seen on the part of the Republicans, has actually been in direct reaction to that of, and as an instinctive defense against, the Democrats.

The effect ends up being much the same, but it’s important that we don’t lose sight of the cause of the problem. The cause of the problem was the reaction of the Democrats to having lost power. It’s really that simple.
Thank you for providing an example of the problem — one side blaming the other side for all that has gone wrong. One side white washing itself while seeing the other side as the guilty ones. Moreover, the whole notion of dividing the polity up into "Democrats and Republicans" and then assigning a collective identity to one or both is also part of the problem.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
I think it’s ironic and funny that Cap Sarcastic proved the point of the post...
 
Written By: shark
URL: http://
Consider, however , when all this hype are partisanship started; 1994. It seems to me that we’re all this started is when the Democrats lost power. It all became about the tribe, at that point. I suggest further, that what hyper partisanship you have seen on the part of the Republicans, has actually been in direct reaction to that of, and as an instinctive defense against, the Democrats.

The effect ends up being much the same, but it’s important that we don’t lose sight of the cause of the problem. The cause of the problem was the reaction of the Democrats to having lost power. It’s really that simple.
Thank you for providing an example of the problem — one side blaming the other side for all that has gone wrong. One side white washing itself while seeing the other side as the guilty ones. Moreover, the whole notion of dividing the polity up into "Democrats and Republicans" and then assigning a collective identity to one or both is also part of the problem.
There’s always a grain of truth to cliches though - see Howard Dean vs the RNC Chair.
 
Written By: shark
URL: http://
"I have been hawking ideas to shake up the system..."

More like ’idea.’ Cap, you are a hammer and every problem is a nail.

The reason why this particular idea (publically financed elections) doesn’t get any traction around here is because most of us are pro-liberty and pro-very small government, and we don’t like the idea of giving government even more power and control.

You asked for a better way. Work to reduce the amount of power that is centralized at the federal level. If there is minimal power to exercise, there will be minimal effort expended to obtain that power.

Really, except for a few key functions, why shouldn’t the power we give to government be exercised much closer to home via town, county and state governments? Why have we allowed so much power to accumulate in the federal government?
 
Written By: Unknown
URL: http://
"(the stories I could tell about that trip...)"

But of course noone ever does, which is part of the problem.
 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
Jimmy Stewart - Mr. Smith goes to Washington - 1939.

Sounds vaguely familiar to the current complaint about power vs the right thing to do. The movie has a positive ending (Frank Capra? How not?)
We all know how it really turns out though don’t we?

Way too much power, way too tempting for them.

 
Written By: looker
URL: http://
Cap, you are a hammer and every problem is a nail
You mean "Cap, you are a hammer and sickle......"

/snark
 
Written By: shark
URL: http://
I post that both sides are doing it, that both sides are at fault, that both sides have the exact same problem, and then point out one example, which happens to be a right smearing left example, and people pretend that I am being partisan and proving the point.

Meanwhile half of the posts on this topic ACTUALLY people blaming Democrats and absolving Republicans.

It’s amazing how people see precisely what they want to see.
I have heard right wingers calling democrats commies and talking about how dumb they are, but I have heard Democrats comparing right wingers with Nazi’s almost since I was born, in addition, right wingers want to destroy the environment, starve old people and children, drag black people to death, force women into pregnancy, establish a theocratic empire, invade nations for oil etc.
No, no, no... what is really happening and what you claim to see happening are completely different. You see one side as better than the other and amazingly, that other side happens to be one’s at fault.

Politicians have been doing this forever, as has been pointed out several times in this thread. What I am saying is different is OUR engagement, citizens, voters, buying into their spew with a passion. The differences are not the real and virtually insurmountable differences of the civil war, they are rhetorical, but WE are acting as if they are.

I am attacked and called a commie in response to virtually every post I make, and I am among the most reasonable liberals you’ll find, so what I am seeing is no quarter given for any disagreement from someone who doesn’t support the right tribe.

All by people blaming the other side for being the cause of the gulf between them.

Yes, it is the Democrats fault.

Yes, it is the Republicans fault.

Mostly it is OUR fault for buying in to the way they do business instead of turning against even our own candidates when they cross the lines between debate and vitriolic tribalism.
OK, here goes: Get the government out of the election racket altogether. NO more campaign finance reform of any type, since they have all been remarkable failures.
Only full disclosure of who is giving what. Thats it.

That would be infinitely better than any more useless rounds of campaign finance reform.
Short of publically financing elections, which as you know I believe is the best path, and still do in light of this recommendation, I completely agree that this should be done.

Our current system is a joke, a pretense, and does not stop a single nickel’s worth of influence from getting to anyone the contributor wants.

So, yes, throw it out, completely.

It won’t change anything, but it will remove the slight pretense that we have a government representative of anything but those who pay their way.

I guess I have hammered the public financing point ad nauseum, so I’ll stop, until perhaps it becomes a blog topic.

There is simply not enough difference between D’s and R’s to warrant the polarization we see today, it is invented.

Cap



 
Written By: CaptinSarcastic
URL: http://
Thank you for providing an example of the problem — one side blaming the other side for all that has gone wrong
Nonsense.
McQ correctly identified when the problem started.
Now what event in that year would ahve caused the start of this problem, then?
What major event happened in that year, Professor? The Democrats lost power, and so got strident in their partisanship.

This is not rocket science, Scott.



 
Written By: Bithead
URL: http://
Nonsense.
McQ correctly identified when the problem started.
Now what event in that year would ahve caused the start of this problem, then?
What major event happened in that year, Professor? The Democrats lost power, and so got strident in their partisanship.

This is not rocket science, Scott.
Blame the Democrats, whitewash the Republicans. Two legs good, four legs bad.

You are, at least, predictable in your mindless partisanship. Goebbels would be proud.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
"They do it too..."

Wasn’t that Bill Clinton’s defense?

Apparently, this constitutes the bulk of response when Democrats cannot respond to the facts.

Face it, Scott; The hyper-partisanship cited here,was and is fired by Democrat party desperation to regain power, and started in 1994 when the Democrats lost power. There are other examples of this desperation, of course.






 
Written By: Bithead
URL: http://
You are, at least, predictable in your mindless partisanship. Goebbels would be proud.
Sigh. Y’know Scott, you seemed like a reasonable guy until now. What is it with you guys and Nazi analogies?
 
Written By: Jordan
URL: http://
"They do it too..."

Wasn’t that Bill Clinton’s defense?
I’m not blaming either party exclusively, or defending either party. I hear crap from both sides of the aisle, and each side points the finger at the other side.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
Sigh. Y’know Scott, you seemed like a reasonable guy until now. What is it with you guys and Nazi analogies?
Actually, for me it’s the fact I’ve read Goebbels, and have spent some time studying the Nazi rise to power (my academic area of specialty is German politics, particularly German foreign policy). I see Goebbelsesque tactics in both parties, and to me pointing that out isn’t to compare one to the Nazis, but to point out that the tactics being used are propagandistic and have a sorry history. I see that in Democratic attacks on President Bush, as well as conspiracy theories about 9-11, etc.

But while I really am comparing propaganda tactics, the use of the name Goebbels makes it seem like I’m saying he’s a Nazi. It’s hard for me to give up comparing to Goebbels because I think there is something to learn there — in fact, I think we can learn a lot by comparing modern politics to how the Nazis rose and took power. But in today’s political discourse people see the Nazis not as a party that rose to power through ruthless propaganda, campaign organization, and a lot of good luck, but only as the party of the holocaust. So I guess there’s too much emotional baggage associated with any comparison to tactics used by the Nazis and I’ll try to refrain from using such comparisons, or at least making sure that if I do I qualify them.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
Fair enough. You still seem like a reasonable guy ;)
 
Written By: Jordan
URL: http://
Personally, I think that references to Nazis and criticism of references to Nazis are both overdone. There are good reasons to sometimes use them as a comparison or example, but as MR. Erb says, sometimes people are oversensitive or use the cite to bash the citer. Everybody knows the details and point of the comparison, but the sordid associations take precedence. I guess you could call it "the comparison that dares not speak its name".
 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
Way off topic, but Stalin was much worse than Hitler is the ways that inspire infamy, namely the number of people murdered.

The difference is how they came to power, not how they held it or used it.

Stalin came to power in a relatively conventional manner, Hitler did not.

The manner in which Hitler came to power and convinced a nation to become what Nazi Germany became is what WE should all know and care about because the methods were specific and repeatable. It doesn’t mean that anyone that uses these methods will murder millions, but it does mean that the public is being fooled into buying something they would not want if they had an honest choice. Goebbels was critical to the means of the ascension to power and to holding it.

By the way, I found this intersting excerpt from the Office of Strategic Services in describing Hitler’s psychological profile back in WW2...

His primary rules were: never allow the public to cool off; never admit a fault or wrong; never concede that there may be some good in your enemy; never leave room for alternatives; never accept blame; concentrate on one enemy at a time and blame him for everything that goes wrong; people will believe a big lie sooner than a little one; and if you repeat it frequently enough people will sooner or later believe it. - OSS report page 51
It may not work indefinitely, but one with great mendacity can pursue the extreme with effective results for quite awhile way using these rules.

Oh, and by the way, for all the bluster about occasional Nazi comparisons, and fairly constant fascist accusations from the far left, Rush Limbaugh has taken to simply referring to democratic leaders as "Stalinists".



Cap
 
Written By: Captin Sarcastic
URL: http://
"His primary rules were: never allow the public to cool off; never admit a fault or wrong; never concede that there may be some good in your enemy; never leave room for alternatives; never accept blame; concentrate on one enemy at a time and blame him for everything that goes wrong; people will believe a big lie sooner than a little one; and if you repeat it frequently enough people will sooner or later believe it. - OSS report page 51"

Perfect description of a liberal! !evitavresnoc a fo noitpircsed tcefreP
 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
!evitavresnoc a fo noitpircsed tcefreP
It is not a description of an ideology, it is a description of methodology.

Anyone can use it.

Methinks thou doth protest too much.

 
Written By: Captin Sarcastic
URL: http://
I’m not blaming either party exclusively, or defending either party. I hear crap from both sides of the aisle, and each side points the finger at the other side.
And yet, you continue to ignore the timeframes indicated and the clues given us thereby. And, Scott... Spare us, particularly those of us who remember you from the Usenet days, and before, your delusions that you are anything but partisan.
 
Written By: Bithead
URL: http://

 
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