A lot of smart people recognize that there are serious structural problems with the current political system, but there is much disagreement on how those problems should be dealt with. While I have often argued for sophiarchism, in many corners radical democratic theory remains more popular. I’d like to offer an argument for rejecting, at least in part, what radical democratic theory has to offer. “Radical democratic theory” is a lengthy phrase, so, for our mutual convenience, I will refer to radical democratic theory as “Rad-Demism” and those who believe in radical democratic theory as “Rad-Dems”. Read the rest of this entry »
Since the government shutdown, many have been claiming that the Tea Party is a spent force. They point to evidence that the Tea Party is, on a national level, less popular than ever. However, these analyses are making a critical error–the Tea Party has never enjoyed and does not require majority support. All the Tea Party needs to remain effective is a strong base in the districts it controls, and the evidence does not suggest any weakening in support for the Tea Party in these critical regions.
Today I ran across a bizarre, fascinating tidbit from Glenn Beck in which Beck attempts to use moral relativism to defend the Tea Party view that we need to return to the principles of America’s founders. This is an interesting formulation of the position because it is so very different from what we usually see–here we have a conservative invoking moral relativism–and for that reason, I want to analyze it today.
Whenever there is widespread disaffection with American politics, a recurrent idea pops up–why don’t we have a third party, one that isn’t like the two we presently have? Why is there no third party for the large majority of Americans who are to some degree hostile toward both the democrats and the republicans? This solution is not all that different from “throw the bums out”. It relies on the premise that our problem is the parties and the individuals that make them up. Today I set out to argue against this. It’s not that our parties are bad, it’s that our system is. The American political system is flush with perverse incentives that guarantee that any major party significant enough to have a chance of winning elections must inevitably become like the two we already have.
If you just read the news headlines today, you’d think that the IRS was the second coming of COINTELPRO. The IRS is targeting the Tea Party and other conservative, right-wing political organisations, they say. For the average citizens, this reads as though your average citizen’s political views were somehow known to the IRS, as if the IRS was going after registered republicans or members of right wing political groups individually. This is not the case. As Ezra Klein (who is really on his game lately, by the way) points out, what actually happened is quite a bit more mundane than all that.