Saturday, February 12, 2011

The Task Set Before Us

This is the task before us: to accept that we are dissidents and opponents. To accept that it is our duty to resist. To use art to express that resistance, the win intellectuals and people of ability to our side. To forge contacts with supporters in the outside world. To slowly expand our influence and never, ever stop laughing at the State.

And when it comes crashing, and I believe it will, we will be there, smiling and laughing.

[End of piece by anonymous author Albert, who identifies as a State Dept. employee in Europe].

Politics is Not About Policy

Robin Hanson famously said that "Politics is not about policy, it is not even about power, it is about status." I concur.

An anonymous poster on Unqualified Reservations said:
*talk matters*.

Clinton talked left, and acted right. Clinton was an amazing president in many ways. Black incarceration rates tripled under Clinton (, one of the main reasons behind the drop in crime in the 1990's. Clinton pushed deregulation and capitalism.

Bush talks right and acts left. That's why the left hates him, even as he gives them NCLB and illegal aliens and Medicare spending and "the government is here to help".

Therefore, whatever you want to do in politics, you can (and possibly should) talk in whatever way appeals to the majority (i.e. the median voter), specifically by saying good things toward groups and behaviors they want to be high-status and bad things toward groups and behaviors they want to be low-status. And especially you should say things toward groups whose status the majority hopes will change.

You can also tailor this message toward a particular audience, depending on where you are speaking.

And then govern whatever way you want, or at least push the envelope as far as you can in the direction you want it to go.

On the other hand, this doesn't always work. It worked fine for Clinton and Reagan, and and even for Junior Bush (since because of his rhetoric and personal style he is still hated by leftists and respected by some conservatives, despite all his left-wing policies) and it seems to not be working at all for Obama. So there has to be some finesse in the execution. Of course, if you come up with garbage policies like the PPACA (a/k/a "Obamacare") you will get despised no matter what. You know, for some supposedly bright guys, they came up with some dumb policies -- and speaking as a bright guy who also considers himself pretty good at politics as well as policy, I don't buy the "We had to compromise in order to get it passed" excuse, on that piece of . . . legislation. Or on anything else.

Reflections on CPAC

I posted this on Pajamas Media:

For those of us who can remember back that far, the 1990's were a time of Republican unity as well, during which the annoyance of being out of power was great enough for people to be willing to overlook minor differences over social policy in the hope of retaking the White House.

At the very least, when one is out of power the opposing party is the Great Satan while other factions within one's own party are the enemy of one's enemy.

I predict this unity, based around economic issues, will persist until we retake power -- and then we will have to deal with differences on social issues and foreign policy.

I'm a big-tent Republican, and I hope we can deal with those differences properly. And I'd like to remind my fellow-Christians that if government is allowed to enforce social values, it will almost always enforce values that we do *not* want. This will happen all the time when we do not control the federal government, and it will even happen most of the time that we do control it, because the both the government bureaucracy and the intellectual establishment are against us. (How much conservative social policy came out of the federal government during the last administration?)

So the best policy (pun intended) will be to get the government out of our lives in every respect. Once the government stops actively subsidizing sin (paying for abortions, and welfare, and blasphemous, poor-quality "art") and its practitioners are forced to pay for it themselves, it will disappear.