Summary: Today we continue explanation of a non-consensus view of the world, quite unlike anything from any of the 200 channels of your TV (all showing an almost identical picture of the world). Since the news media see the election only as a race or joust, let’s use a sporting perspective. How might the election look if seen from a blimp looking down on the Campaign 2012 stadium? Third in a series.
Politics is more complex than football. There are sets of players in uniform on the field, but four teams — all supported by a small set of powerful interest groups in the stands. Watching the plays in terms of the blue and red uniforms gives misleading results.
Today we take a brief (ie, highly simplified) look at the 2012 election, showing how the binary good guy – bad guy narrative tells us nothing — except that our OODA loop is broken.
The Blue team won, led by Captain Obama. They did so by moving to the right, co-opting many conservative policies.
Abandoning liberals reform ideas for health care (eg, single payer), Obama adopted RomneyCare (designed by conservative think tanks, greatly profiting insurance and pharmaceutical companies).
He institutionalized much of Bush Jr’s war on terror (widespread foreign interventions (eg, covert ops, assassinations), massive growth of intelligence (both domestic and foreign), massive domestic security apparatus, steady erosion of civil rights. In the foreign policy debate Obama was to the right of Romney.
He abandoned the New Deal’s policy of close regulation of Wall Street, continuing the Clinton and Bushes Wall Street-led economic policies.
The Red team never effectively responded to this. Their broken OODA loop produced the insane “oppose the radical socialist Obama”, which appealed only to those inside their bubble.
The liberal team (no uniforms) lost. The conservative team (no uniforms) won. Neither have distinctive uniforms, so this victory was not apparent to those getting their information from the sports media (ie, the horse-race obsessed “new” media).
Summary: Our political pundits focus on the “election as horse race” to conceal the relatively small policy differences between the two parties, and so sooth a somnolent public who might become restive if they understood the nature of the New America being constructed on the ruins of the Second Republic. Here are some articles to help us see more clearly. Second in a series. Also see the posters at the end of the post!
Some useful articles describing our one-party system
An important lesson, but we are blind and can’t see it
America can be seen more clearly from abroad
Posts in this series about the results of Campaign 2012
Seeing our situation in pictures instead of words
(1) Useful articles describing our one-party system
This list will be updated. These are the useful articles as of 9am EST. As described in the previous post, most of the discussion is either about political horse races (past and future), or rants (often quite delusional) about the glories of our side and the evils of the others. Descriptions of our actual condition create cognitive dissonance, and (worse) scare the sheep.
The Democratic Party won the election by moving decisively to the right, co-opting many of the GOP’s policies (especially those most loved by the 1%). Obama retained his liberal gloss by advocating social reforms of little interest to the 1%. Romney failed to counter this with a move to the center (after his win in the primaries), instead attempting to ignore Obama’s actual policies and portray him as Lenin. This failed, allowing Obama to build on his strength on the Left (nowhere else to go) and capture a winning margin in the center. QED.
Please mention in the comments any articles you find useful.
“America’s Increasingly Tribal Electorate“, Tom Jacobs, Pacific Standard, 1 November 2012 — “A political scientist explains the disconnect between our moderate policy views and our intense hatred for the other side.”
(2) The most important lesson, but we are blind and cannot see it
“American politics go tribal“, Pacific Standard, 1 November 2012 — “A political scientist explains the disconnect between our moderate policy views and our intense hatred for the other side.” Excerpt:
Political scientist Lilliana Mason’s analysis is more subtle, and more disturbing. Her research suggests that, in terms of our attitudes towards issues, we are no more polarized than we were decades ago. But our emotions, and the behaviors they drive, have largely uncoupled from our actual analysis of the issues. Essentially, the Stony Brook University scholar argues, our identities have become increasingly intertwined with our political affiliation. As a result, we feel ever more certain that our party is right and the other is wrong—even in cases where their positions aren’t far apart.
Our attitude towards the opposing party has become, basically, tribal: We detest them simply because they’re the other side.
“The American public can hold remarkably moderate and constant issue positions, while nonetheless becoming progressively more biased, active and angry when it comes to politics,” she argues. “Even as we agree on most issues, we are becoming increasingly uncivil in our approach to politics.”
Summary: John Robb’s open source insurgency nicely describes the quiet coup underway in America. Like-minded rich people work together, and finance others to help them. The 2012 election shows several of the mechanisms by which they’re doing so. Solidarity works for them.
Distracting us with spectacles
The Overton Window, recalibrating our sense of the political center
The way out from under all this
For more information: about America’s leaders
(1) Distracting us with spectacles
Donald Trump, Michelle Bachman, Rick Perry, Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul, and now Rick Santorum. As Der Spiegel and others have observed, it’s a freak show. Entertainment for the peons. Watching the race, pretending that the are involved in the result, that’s its a real race. Left and right both focus on these oddities pretending to be leaders.
Meanwhile our leaders implement important policy changes. Pushing useful idiots off the stage, as with the Koch brothers take-over of the libertarian Cato Institute (see David Weigel’s articles at Slate on March 1 and March 5). Increasing the reach and immunity of executive power, expanding foreign wars, consolidating the power of the mega-banks (including immunity from effective civil or criminal liability). Serious work, while the peons watch the clowns.
Keeping our eyes off the ball: an essential task for managing the people in a system still retaining the electoral machinery of a dying Republic.
(2) The Overton Window, recalibrating our sense of the political center
The Overton Window, like Kübler-Ross’ stages of death and dying, provides a conceptual schema to understand a process of change. It describes a process by which an idea becomes accepted by a society, and how to mainipulate it (see Wikipedia for links). One aspect is this series of steps: Read more →