The Third Estate
What Is The Third Estate?
What Has It Been Until Now In The Political Order?
What Does It Want To Be?

Just Saw the Gotye Video

Monday, February 20, 2012

Hard to deny it, eh?
idea credit to the long lost Brazen Hussy
Posted by Arbitrista @ 8:03 PM

0 comments :: permalink

The Republicans Are Trying To Make Me Look Stupid At The Office

Wednesday, February 15, 2012
I'm generally pretty good at handicapping political races, having watched them and participated in them for (gasp) decades. Like many elections scholars, every four years I become the most popular person at work as everybody seeks me out to ask what I think of the presidential race. This year, however, the Republicans have repeatedly forced me to apologize for my errors. Now perhaps I needed a little lesson in humility, but this is getting ridiculous. It's as if the Republican primary electorate has decided that their chief goal is not electing a president but embarrassing political scientists.

Honestly, I don't pretend to understand Republicans, but I have to say I've never had to scratch my head more over a race than this one. Much like the 2008 race, I looked at it and figured that none of them could possibly be the nominee, so the one with the most establishment support looked like the safest bet. Then Perry got in and, not realizing that Texas would re-elect a buffoon so many times, figured he was a reasonably competent politician and as the logical choice for conservatives would in all probability be the nominee - which I proceeded to tell people. Of course, it turns out that Texas will repeatedly put a half-trained mentally handicapped lemur in their highest office. Apology #1. Then I figured "oh well, back to Romney. This'll be over sometime in February." Romney "wins" Iowa, wins New Hampshire and looks to be cruising. Then he loses to Newt in South Carolina, and knowing Newt as I do, it was pretty clear that Romney would pulverize Gingrich in Florida and that would be that. I told people that Romney would win Florida, and he did, and I casually pronounced the Republican nomination race over.

I've avoided the subject since Santorum's wins last week. Delegate free they may be, they were an indication that Romney was the medicine the patient just keeps spitting back up, no matter how many ways the doctors explain the necessity for it. Now Santorum is leading in the national polls, and more importantly, leading in Michigan, one of Romney's many purported home states (along with Utah, Massachusetts, and France). If Santorum wins Michigan, I will throw up my hands in exasperation and forever disclaim any future prognosticating on Republican intraparty scrums. Of course, I will also have the glee of watching the Republican Party establishment have a complete nervous breakdown.

Thinking over this nomination contest, I have decided that - thus far - the closest comparison isn't the Republicans in 2008 or the Democrats in 1984, the two most commonly cited references. No, I'm starting to think the right precedent is the 1980 Democratic nomination. Carter wasn't particularly well liked by Democrats, although they knew that they were probably stuck with him. They didn't really want Ted Kennedy either, but as long as they thought there was no chance Kennedy would actually unseat Carter, the Democrats were happy to use Ted as a protest vehicle. Until that is Kennedy won enough seats to look like he might strip Carter of the nomination after all, at which point they turned on him. Or at least this is my understanding of what happened that year. So, very tentatively, I think that Romney is Carter, and Santorum has been cast in the role of Kennedy now that Gingrich has proved so loathsome even the Republicans can't stomach him.

Having said that, I could be entirely wrong. Again. Which now that I think about it shouldn't be much of surprise. After all, to have a grasp of how Republican wingnuts make decisions I'd have to have at least a little empathy for them. Which I don't.
Posted by Arbitrista @ 12:46 PM

0 comments :: permalink

Valentine's Day

Tuesday, February 14, 2012
I don't care if it was invented by hallmark. I like it anyway. Here's hoping you have an embarrassingly sweet one.
Posted by Arbitrista @ 7:22 AM

2 comments :: permalink

Frustrations with Politics

Friday, February 03, 2012
I'm sure part of it has to be do with losing the last race I was working on under very disappointing circumstances, and the fact that the national political context is more discouraging than ever (conservative policies wreck the country and the electorate's political response is to move...right?), but it's been difficult to summon up the enthusiasm about politics that I usually do. Yes, yes, I know I do quite a bit of bitching and moaning on this blog, but that's mainly because I need to vent and my wife is sick of hearing about it. Hopefully it will get better as the 2012 cycle revs up locally. It really is a lot more fun to get involved in lower-level races than all that gargantuan national stuff. You can really see how your input makes a difference.

Having said that, there are three things on the internets from the last couple of days I think require some commentary.

First, with regards to the Komen kerfuffle, I think Twisty Faster really does have the last word on the topic. As usual.

Second, via Andrew Sullivan, the fantastically overrated Francis Fukuyama is trotting out the argument that America's governance problems stem from its democracy preceding bureaucratization, thus fostering a populism that cripples popular support for government. The first time I heard this claim I thought it had some prima facie validity, until one reflects that that the whatever speculative effects that early democratization might have had on American political developments, there are far more straightforward distinctions between the US and other wealthy democratic countries. Say, how about the combination of a constitution with an excessive number of veto points together with the legacy of regionally concentrated race-based chattel slavery? Does it seem possible that the "governance" problem that the US faces isn't some generic hostility to bureaucracy so much as that 1) elites in one large region of the country have a wonderful weapon with which to divide the plebs and to associate the welfare state with subsidies for the loathed "other", and 2) that regional hegemony allows them to block any and all left-wing reforms? The principal problem that America faces isn't that Americans are suspicious of government, it's that the ideological successors of John C. Calhoun are bent on fleecing the American middle class on behalf of their corporate masters, while their milquetoast opponents either are too corrupt or too clueless to stop them. Just a thought.

Finally, stories like this remind me of the old argument for property qualifications for voting. The idea was that you had to restrict the franchise to the self-employed because wage-earners would be to easily pressured to go along with their employers in politics - that wage-earners aren't truly independent. Now obviously I think that restricting voting rights on almost any grounds in repugnant, but I do think we need to do a much better job at making sure that the majority of us that are dependent on the goodwill of someone else to keep our jobs don't have to worry about our employers leveraging their position to influence our behavior outside of work. So for example, I don't answer the phone or respond to emails from work on the weekend or at night - cause I'm off duty, dammit. And y'know, unions.
Posted by Arbitrista @ 7:22 AM

0 comments :: permalink