Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The Problem with Political Frustration on the Left

When I write "left" and "right", I somewhat interchange meanings. The first is "the Democrats who are actually in Congress and the White House" and "the Republicans who are actually in Congress". The second is fiscally speaking - the left being more statist and opposed to corporate America, and the right being more decentralized and favorable to corporate America. In this particular case, especially in the characterization of the "left", these are reasonably interchangeable.

I've said a million times before that just because your intentions are good doesnt mean your execution is. Stimulus, healthcare, energy and finreg are the right targets, and there's not some fundamental moral separation behind any of them (excepting climate deniers, who Congress very much should be ignoring).
Just because you want universal healthcare (largely a good idea) doesn't mean that there aren't implementations that are worse than the status quo and other implementations that are better than the status quo. The Republicans have a lot of very, very good ideas on the economy and healthcare that Democrats, by virtue of being much more statist, will not generate by themselves. I genuinely believe after midterms things will get much better because you wont have this nasty "we have to stick together or this country's going socialist" mentality on the right and you wont have this "we have massive majorities, we get whatever we want!" entitlement on the left.
In fact, the left blaming the right for being "the party of no" is, at least in my mind (with the bias that i am an investor, first and foremost), the single biggest impediment to good policy, and similarly a major impediment to recovery because it has meant that every single policy coming out of the left turns into a left pipedream with no real compromise. None of the policies brought out so far has attempted to integrate Republican ideas because everyone just decided from the get-go that the Republicans wouldn't listen. Thus, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

The attitude of "the Republicans messed up royally under Bush, so now they have to sit back and shut up while we fix everything" is really, really destructive, for both Democrats (whose polling numbers are equivalent to the Republicans', and who will almost certainly (rightly) be held responsible for massacring the recovery) and for the Republicans (who are being hijacked by crazy people as everyone reacts to Democratic policies). This is bad for the country.

Thus, it's hard for Republicans to not oppose everything when they've been ignored from the get-go. There are 41 Republicans in the Senate, some of whom are from NH and MA and liberal states. Getting them all to unify in opposition is like herding cats unless you set off a bomb from which all the cats run away. So I don't buy this "Republicans are all to blame" argument from Democrats, because no attempt was really made to integrate their ideas. Plus, when you have 60/59 senate votes and a house megamajority, you're responsible for your policy, end of story.
Anyway, the idea of identity as Dem vs Repub, and of being entitled to implement your own policy if you have a majority, are way underrated pieces of the trainwreck that has been the Obama economic recovery policy.
By the way, some of you may be surprised to know that I voted for Obama, and typically vote Democrat 80% of the time, largely because I find conservative social policy distasteful in a lot of areas (gay marriage, religion in schools, xenophobia, etc).

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