A few days late and dollars short as always but what the hell...
6.Jones wrote:It's one view of politics: of rule by continuous plebiscite, with the leader interpreting the continuous will of the people. That's like having an aircraft where the buttons in the cockpit are controlled by a plurality of buttons on people's seat arms. Who would get in an aircraft like that? Another, more traditional view is that the people elect parties who embody their politics, but are empowered to lead, and are held responsible for coming up with policies that work in the real world. It's to America's great cost that it has recently chosen the first system over the second. They might struggle to get the other one back.
Ah, the old delegate vs. trustee model of representation debate. While in most cases I think pretty much everyone would favor the trustee model, in order for it to work you need 1) savvy political players, actual technocrats who know how to devise policy (or at least source the appropriate think tank) and get it across the line intact, and 2) a focused and clear common direction that the trustee knows to act upon; a window of permissible policy destinations that most in the mainstream will be comfortable with or at least consider acceptable, even if they don't like it. Right now we have neither.
The reason we're in this mess though is that our leaders could not be bothered to consider any sort of policy that fell outside of their narrow (read: uni-party establishment) definition of workable real-world policy. We were just told this is the 21st century, sorry, nothing we can do about it. Trade, foreign policy, immigration, automation, you name it. So the public broke the emergency glass and now the guy who hosted The Apprentice is our president.
Seneca of the Night wrote:No, I think it demonstrates the key role of public policy. The governing party can legislate almost anything. But actually making it stick is more difficult. If you want to effect permanent change in the political culture it seems to me you have to come at it from a long way back. That's why we have think tanks, among other things.
The best example of this I can think of is New Zealand's radical nuclear free policy in the 80s. It had a long runup, but nonetheless was still controversial and dramatic at the time, with inevitable negative consequences. But it stuck, and successive National govts didn't even think about changing it.
On the reverse side the general consensus about low inflation targetting by central banks since about that time has been public policy success for the right across the west, though that seems to be collapsing around us.
Short of it is this: your opponents will just reverse out ill-thought out and rammed through legislation that doesn't have solid grounding. I don't believe Obama's administration had much persuasion in the way of public policy, but some things will certainly stick like gay marriage (supreme court, but on his watch).
There is of course the 'Nixon to China' situation that suggest that true lasting change comes from the opposite party you might think it would. In those cases the groundwork is complete, and all that remains is knocking the ball over the line. That stuff really sticks. In the case of NZ (and Australia) the economic reforms of the 80s fall into that category.
But I take your point about the plebiscites. It's been a disaster for American foreign policy, as leaders just cannot trust Washington as one admin after another changes positions on the vine, and Colonel Gaddafi getting a poker stuffed up his jacksy stands as a testamount to the dangers of the situation. Rogue (independent?) states and leaders now think they are best just tooling up.
Good post. I think this also goes a long way towards explaining how the Clinton administration managed to basically be the one that drove home the uni-party establishment status quo; when the Dems went neoliberal (or whatever it's called, you know what I'm talking about), that pretty much set things in stone for two decades. There were dissenters (see Ralph Nader; there's an interesting documentary on him on Hulu that has a gold mine of amazing quotes that illustrate the political climate of the time), but for the most part everyone just nodded their head and carried on. Even (especially?) most of those who'd be most damaged by these developments as time progressed.