American Politics Has Become Horrible, Predictable, And Utterly Boring

Even for political junkies, the thrill seems to be gone.

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Last week, George Packer at The New Yorker came out, as a political journalist who isn’t at all looking forward to the 2016 election:

It might not be wise for a sometime political journalist to admit this, but the 2016 campaign doesn’t seem like fun to me. Watching Marco Rubio try to overcome his past support for immigration reform to win enough conservative votes to become the Mainstream Alternative to the Invisible Primary Leader—who, if there is one, will be a candidate named Bush—doesn’t seem like fun. Nor does analyzing whether Chris Christie can become something more than the Factional Favorite of moderate Republicans, or whether Ted Cruz’s impressive early fundraising will make him that rare thing, a Factional Favorite with an outside chance to win. If this is any kind of fun, it’s the kind of fun I associate with reading about seventeenth-century French execution methods, or watching a YouTube video of a fight between a python and an alligator. Fun in small doses, as long as you’re not too close.

American politics in general doesn’t seem like fun these days. There’s nothing very entertaining about super PACs, or Mike Huckabee’s national announcement of an imminent national announcement of whether he will run for President again. Jeb Bush’s ruthless approach to locking up the exclusive services of longstanding Republican political consultants and media professionals far ahead of the primaries doesn’t quicken my pulse. Scott Walker’s refusal to affirm Barack Obama’s patriotism doesn’t shock me into a state of alert indignation. A forthcoming book with revelations about the Clintons’ use of their offices and influence to raise money for their foundation and grow rich from paid speeches neither surprises me nor gladdens my heart.

(…)

The reason is the stuckness of American politics. Especially in the years after 2008, the worst tendencies of American politics only hardened, while remaining in the same place. Beneath the surface froth and churn, we are paralyzed. You can sense it as soon as you step out of the train at Union Station in Washington, the instant you click on a Politico article about a candidates’ forum in Iowa: miasma settles over your central nervous system and you start to go numb. What has happened is that the same things keep happening. The tidal wave of money keeps happening, the trivialization of coverage keeps happening, the extremism of the Republican Party keeps happening (Ted Cruz: abolish the I.R.S.; Rand Paul: the Common Core is “un-American”). The issues remain huge and urgent: inequality, global warming, immigration, poorly educated children, American decline, radical Islamism. But the language of politics stays the same, and it is a dead language. The notion that answers will come from Washington or the campaign trail is beyond far-fetched.

Ed Kilgore and Dylan Byers both pushed back against Packer’s pessimissm, arguing that the 2016 election is likely to be consequential for one reason or another and that, from the perspective of the political journalist and/or junkie, things such as the race for the GOP nomination and the General Election itself are likely to be fun and interesting watch. Kevin Drum describes himself as being more disinterested in the day-to-day political game, but seems to largely agree with Packer:

As Packer says, American politics is stuck. It’s paralyzed. Exhibit 1: We’ve just witnessed a historically unprecedented delay in confirming an Attorney General that everyone agrees is eminently qualified. Why? Because of a bit of clever Republican gameplaying over an abortion clause that was fundamentally trivial but great red meat for the base. When the Democratic base finally cottoned on to the game, they went predictably ballistic and everything stalled. It was all just dumb kabuki: gameplaying from Republicans, predictable outrage from Democrats, and all over a long accepted principle that bans federal funding of abortion. Two months of gridlock over trivial symbolism. And why not? Everyone knows there was nothing important that had any chance of getting done anyway.

So yeah: unless you’re a horse race junkie by nature, it’s pretty hard to get excited by the horse race when it has almost no chance of changing things except on the margins. This will change eventually, but probably no time soon.

More so than has been the case in any other recent election, I must say that I find myself largely agreeing with Packer’s assessment of how the next eighteen months are likely to unfold. In terms of the “horse race” side of politics, the Democratic side of the aisle holds no real interest at all at this point. Barring some momentous development, it is blindingly obvious that Hillary Clinton is going to be the Democratic nominee for President. The only people who don’t seem to be willing to publicly accept that are the few naive souls being Ready For Warren, Martin O’Malley, and conservatives who seem to think that talking down Hillary Clinton’s chances in the Democratic race somehow helps the GOP in a General Election campaign that isn’t going to start for another year. Things are more interesting on the Republican side, of course, and the plethora of candidates that are entering the race pretty much guarantees that will be no need to the gaffes, negative campaign ads, and pandering to the hard right of the party that make for great fun for political bloggers. At the same time, though, it’s also blindingly obvious that the GOP race is not nearly as “open” as the number of candidates would lead one to believe. In the end, the race is going to come down to a handful of candidates, probably no more than three, that appeal to both the party base and the big money donors. The most likely candidates to make up this group are Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, and Scott Walker. The other candidates? They’ll make news, and they may even peak in the polls at some point, just like candidates like Michele Bachmann and Herman Cain did during the 2012 campaign, but none of them are going to last very long, and the way delegates are allocated in GOP primaries makes it unlikely that candidates that only appeal to one wing of the party, such as Ted Cruz and Rand Paul, will ever really be contenders. The only thing that would really make the GOP race interesting is if I turned out to be wrong about that and the GOP race really turned into something that mattered while Hillary Clinton had to deal with a serious challenge from a credible opponent. But that’s not likely to happen.

Even if you’re not much of a “horse race” person, though, the 2016 election doesn’t give you much to look forward to. More so that ever in the past, we are going to see candidates and their supporters pushing out tightly crafted messages designed largely to appeal pander to the worst aspects of their base supporters Joining them will be the SuperPACs that will be pushing messages different from those of the campaigns themselves, and far more negative. This guarantees that there will be little serious discussion of the issues facing the nation, whether we’re talking about the economy, immigration, entitlements, tax policy, federal spending, the relationship between Washington, D.C. and the states, social issues, and foreign policy. Instead, we’ll get prepackaged slogans, exaggerated claims, over-the-top attacks on opponents, and of course stump speech after stump speech of meaningless flowery rhetoric. Both sides will argue that this is “the most important election ever” and that their opponent will bring doom and gloom to the nation. All of this will be covered breathlessly by the always-on political media, which now exists both on cable news networks and the Internet, to the point where it will be impossible for anyone to get away from it. It is enough to make one want to completely unplug, or perhaps retreat to a desert island.

Packer is also right that this is all largely a result of the political culture we live in. To a significant degree, we live in a nation that is almost equally divided between Republicans and Democrats, liberals and conservatives. One of the things this means is that even the most trivial differences between the two sides become exaggerated to the point where compromise becomes nearly impossible. Additionally, the fact that both sides generally spend most of their time sending messages to their own bases means that they feed into the hyperpartisanship that has been created by cable news, talk radio, and the Internet to the point where it all becomes a horrible, soul-sucking, self-sustaining entity. As long as that’s the case, it hardly matters who wins one election or the other, or which party controls Congress by a handful of seats, because the way the system works guarantees that the battle will continue until…..well, that’s really the point. The way we fight political battles today, the only way either side can be happy is if the other side is utterly destroyed. That’s never going to happen, though. There will always be Republicans, Democrats, liberals, and conservatives. They used to be able to talk to each other, but now all they seem to do is yell at each other, and as a result we have a political system that is frustrating, annoying, tiresome, and so predictable that is utterly boring.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2016, US Politics
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. An Interested Party says:

    Perhaps if we had politicians who actually governed, politics wouldn’t be so boring…there are only so many times that Republicans can threaten to shut down the government or have votes on items that will never, ever pass through the full Congress or survive a presidential veto before even political junkies just tune out…

  2. gVOR08 says:

    Actually, this primary season is interesting and consequential. If Jeb wins, then the traditional Republican establishment is still on top. If not, the Right Wing Billionaire Boys Club is on top.
    John Roberts may well come to regret Citizen’s United as a bunch of deep pocket whack jobs take over his party.

  3. Ron Beasley says:

    I too agree with Packer. I have two unfinished drafts in the Que over at The Moderate Voice and just can’t find the enthusiasm to finish them. I find a bit of inspiration but it is exhausted before I can finish. I don’t like Hillary but all of the passengers in the Republican clown car are worse. Thank god I’m pushing 70 and have no grandchildren.

  4. Mr. Prosser says:

    @gVOR08: True. As Harry Cheadle at Vice wrote, “It’s all fun and games until someone gets elected.”

  5. sam says:

    Careful. Those whom the gods mark for destruction they first make bored.

  6. ernieyeball says:

    It might not be wise for a sometime political journalist to admit this, but the 2016 campaign doesn’t seem like fun to me.

    How much fun do you want to have?
    http://www.history.com/topics/1960s/videos/violence-batters-1968-democratic-convention

  7. superdestroyer says:

    @An Interested Party:

    Do you really think politics will be less voting if the Republican give up trying to be the opposition and no disagree on policy or governance is allowed to be discussed. How will problems ever be solve if no discussion on policy or governance alternative is allowed and everyone will have to go along with whatever the Democratic Party establishment settles on?

  8. michael reynolds says:

    If I may indulge my inner book series hack, the problem is lack of plot. What are the characters doing? What do they want? How will they change over the course of the story?

    We’ve had a series of narratives since we began as a country. Beat the British. Expand westward. Slavery, Civil War and Reconstruction. Expand westward some more. Attempt a proto-empire with Cuba and the Philippines. Moral rebirth and the growth of criminality during Prohibition. The Depression. World War 2. The Cold War. The fight for Civil Rights. The War on Terror.

    The Civil Rights fight is essentially over. There’s some clean-up, but liberals won. And now liberals have no plot, no agenda. The War on Terror drove into a dead end in Iraq. It might have been more but the Bush-Cheney administration had too much ambition and too little competence so we’re just playing whack-a-mole until Islamists get tired of being droned.

    There is no longer a storyline taking us forward. More of the same. More clean-up on rights, more whack-a-mole. The story is stale. The characters are wandering around on the pages, dialoguing away in hopes of stumbling into an interesting plot. I know this feeling – I call it “voguing” when I’m writing and I’m not sure where the story wants to go so I wander around till I find the thread. Read the later George RR Martin GOT books and you’ll see a classic example: voguing.

    When you get down to it the underlying story was expansion. Frontier. We still see ourselves that way, as special, as loners against the elements, as individualists carving a place out of the wilderness. That’s in our national DNA. But we are no longer a nation with a mission. We are transitioning to European. We are maturing into middle age, focusing less on great goals and more on quality of life. Going through the motions.

    But emotionally we aren’t Europeans yet. We’re fighting middle-age. We’re 39 and still wearing a backward baseball cap. We think maybe if we buy a Corvette we can avoid old age.

    We could decide to go to Mars, that’s a job for robots or for a tiny number of guys who will get there and look at rocks. Mars isn’t exactly the Oregon Trail.

    So clueless liberals think maybe the next big cause is vegetarianism. (It isn’t.) And conservatives pine for a war with Iran that the rest of the country has no interest in, which dooms the enterprise to failure.

    Someone needs to come up with a new plot.

    Edit: Oops, forgot the Depression.

  9. Facebones says:

    Cry me a river for the pundits and “journalists” who are bored by the political system they helped put in place. It’s been 20 years of breathless internet coverage and BS scandals and trumped up outrage and treating everything like it’s a zero sum game. Who won the morning? Who won the news cycle?

    You know what? Politics isn’t a game. The policies they put in place affect people’s lives. Whether or not they can get married. Or afford health care. Or have to go and fight in a war. People in this country deserve better elections. They deserve a press corps that will actually explain issues in terms of how it will impact people, not how it will impact the president’s approval rating.

  10. An Interested Party says:

    Do you really think politics will be less voting if the Republican give up trying to be the opposition…

    Being the opposition doesn’t mean shutting down the government if you don’t get your way or having meaningless symbolic votes to end a government program that isn’t going anywhere…

  11. James Pearce says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Someone needs to come up with a new plot.

    It’s interesting you say that. Last week, I had the opportunity to drive through the Eastern Plains of Colorado for a funeral. These are not thriving communities. They are places with no water and no jobs. We’re talking about places with empty mainstreets that have been hemorrhaging population over the last ten years.

    All voting Republican apparently. And then in the Denver Post this morning, there’s a story about their concerns: “gun rights, gay rights and the renewable-energy mandate.”

    Same old plot. It’s sad.

  12. eric78 says:

    Polarization is killing our political system. Check out this chart
    . I understand why some people might not want to return to the mismatch of politic positions of the 50s through 70s and the policies that came because of it. But could we at least return to the era of the mid-1980s were politicans at least could get some bipartisan legistation to the President to sign?

    What frustrates me the most in this era of special interests. Is the idea that “political courage” is pandering to your base. Sadly real political courage is reaching across aisle and saying ” I think we work together on this”. But pandering to your base will help you raise millions. Being part any form of real bipartisan change won’t, it will only get you a couple applause lines in media (maybe).

    The irony of the “courageous” pols who pander to activist base voters. Is that they accomplish nothing. So those who want to change policies are making sure policies never change due to their tactics.

  13. michael reynolds says:

    @James Pearce:
    I see all of that as being a drawn-out process of mourning the passing of the cowboy ideal of American masculinity. It’s always been mostly nonsense, but as an archetype it’s very powerful. The strong man with firm beliefs who brings civilization with a gun.

    It’s interesting if you look at what kids are reading/watching/playing. So much of it involves male insecurity and female empowerment. We still have Batman and Iron Man, but we also have Katniss Everdeen (Hunger Games) and Tris Prior (Divergent.) We’re belatedly writing women into what had been male roles, adding minorities, adding gays, etc… If you look at fiction you can see a tide of females and minorities basically taking territory from white males (Superman, Spiderman, Clint Eastwood.) At the same time you have Call of Duty and Grand Theft Auto which are rather old-school male fantasies, frequently involving domination of women.

    It’s hard sometimes not to feel sorry for the god, guns n’ gays crowd. They’re just anachronisms who lack either the will or the ability to adapt. Still fondling their guns and dreaming of fighting off hordes of savage minorities who want to steal their wimmin folk.

  14. gVOR08 says:

    @Facebones: Yes, that.
    This s**t actually does matter.

  15. gVOR08 says:

    @michael reynolds: I’ve said for years it’s a shame we killed off the Indians and the buffalo so quickly. No way for a man to prove he’s a man except buying big pickup trucks and big guns.

  16. DrDaveT says:

    @Facebones:

    You know what? Politics isn’t a game. The policies they put in place affect people’s lives.

    This.

  17. qtip says:

    At the same time you have Call of Duty and Grand Theft Auto which are rather old-school male fantasies, frequently involving domination of women.

    Coincidentally, they just announced that the role of women in combat will be greatly expanded in the next Call of Duty release. You will be able to play the entire game as a female character which I think is a first for the franchise. No Indians, no buffalo, and no more Call of Duty.

  18. ernieyeball says:

    The policies they put in place affect people’s lives.

    Politicians know this.
    That’s why when goons like Mike Huckabee propose to shoot Citizens that do not kow tow to his indoctrination I am compelled to note that despite his apologists claims he is not being funny.
    http://www.talk2action.org/story/2011/3/30/155256/894

  19. Scott F. says:

    @Facebones:

    Thank you for this comment.

  20. Kylopod says:

    @Facebones:

    You know what? Politics isn’t a game. The policies they put in place affect people’s lives.

    I’m really glad you wrote this. It’s a point that isn’t made nearly often enough.

    I’m as much a political junkie as anyone here, but then I find myself signing up to a health-care plan that I could not have afforded before the passage of a law that the GOP has pledged to repeal, while the left whines that they didn’t get single-payer. These matters do affect lives, they even save lives. But all some people can think about is the game.

    I know there are many things wrong with our political system, but the biggest to me is that Republicans have made it very difficult to have any real debates when they’re endlessly creating imaginary ones. How can you have a serious discussion about health care with people who believe in death panels or who claim Obamacare has caused health-care costs to skyrocket? How can you seriously discuss environmental policy with people who deny global warming? How can you discuss the deficit with people who believe tax hikes (at least on the rich) are intrinsically evil?

    I have found over the years that whenever I get into debates with conservatives, most of the “debates” end up consisting simply of me refuting the myriad lies and falsehoods they spew. The irony is that I rarely get the chance to express any actual liberal beliefs; I’m not being a liberal in these situations, I’m being Snopes.com. That’s what happens when you have a major party that has become totally unhinged from reality. It stops being about debating ideas, and becomes simply a war between truth and lies. As a result, a real debate over the issues gets short shrift.

    All the OTB writers know this but are in major denial about it (especially Doug). They prefer the “pox on both houses” approach to politics, because they think it gives them a veneer of objectivity. Then, of course, they wind up saying stuff like that they won’t vote for Hillary because of her abrasive personality.

    I agree with Michael Reynolds that liberals have lost much of a narrative, but maybe we all need to grow up a little and worry less about narratives and more about reality.

  21. J-Dub says:

    @michael reynolds: and the War on Drugs

  22. J-Dub says:

    When we reach an undeniable tipping point on an issue like global warming then a new plot line will emerge. Scarce resources and an abundance of guns. Should be interesting.

  23. Rick DeMent says:

    @qtip: The game Mercenary had a female choice who got to pretty much blow up North Korea … just saying.

  24. C. Clavin says:

    More both sides do it drivel. Talk about boring.
    As humans we are currently face-to-face with the biggest threat we have ever faced…and it is being ignored, denied, and lied about by Republicans, the only group on the planet doing so…and that’s boring?
    We are this close to a nuclear agreement with Iran…and Republicans, including G. W. Bush, are urging that we go to war instead…and that’s boring?
    An entire group of people are winning equality…and that’s boring?
    A black man became President…and a woman is very likely to…and that’s boring?
    Pot is becoming legal…something we used to talk about in college dorms in the 70’s as though it could never happen…and that’s boring?
    The health care system has been given the beginnings of an overhaul…millions have insurance that didn’t have it before…and that’s boring?
    The SCOTUS is donating our political system to the highest bidders…every corporation is now a political slush fund…and that’s boring?
    Ted Cruz likened himself to Galileo…and that’s boring?
    Tony Perkins is accused of leading a hate group on nat’l TV and that’s boring?
    The only thing that’s boring is a hack with no vision, no imagination, and a both-sides-do-it fetish.

  25. superdestroyer says:

    @An Interested Party:

    Who would want to be involved in politics to be a loyal opposition while having no influence on policy or governance? Why do you think the Ivy League students are overwhelmingly Democrats even though they live their personal lives very differently than the policies that those proposed by progressives.

  26. Barry says:

    @Facebones: “You know what? Politics isn’t a game. The policies they put in place affect people’s lives.”

    And the press has deliberately failed to live up to their responsibility to keep mentioning that, and to inform us. Packard is one of those failures.

    And Packard is quite deliberately lying to us whenever he plays the ‘Both Sides Do It’ card.

  27. Blue Galangal says:

    @michael reynolds: To go off on a tangent, I would argue that Katniss Everdeen had the potential to be a revolutionary female character who challenged and subverted paradigms, but look at where she ends up. After all that, what’s her reward? To get married? The system hasn’t changed. The system isn’t even pretending to change. Collins punts so hard on that it’s not even funny: the system “might” change in the future. There’s a possibility. Meanwhile, settle yourself down and have some kids like a good girl. (And some PTSD, yum.)

    I feel much the same about Divergent: the first book rocked. By the third book, she’s being rescued by men (repeatedly). She displays agency in the first book, but by the third, she’s an object and it’s her magnetic personality that’s causing men to act around her. (It’s possible the author didn’t think through the logical conclusions of her set up in book one, or was afraid to go there, much like Anne McCaffrey, about whom don’t get me started.)

    I think both of these are great examples of a shift in YA, don’t get me wrong. But something like The Shadow Children shows a lot more actual female agency, but sadly is not a multi million dollar movie franchise.

    (The LEGO movie, while admirable in so many ways, also really missed the boat on this topic, but that’s yet another tangent.)

  28. jukeboxgrad says:

    Kylopod:

    That’s what happens when you have a major party that has become totally unhinged from reality. It stops being about debating ideas, and becomes simply a war between truth and lies.

    Yes, exactly. I think this is the heart of the matter. Republicanism runs on fiction. One conservative has described the problem this way:

    Republicans have been fleeced and exploited and lied to by a conservative entertainment complex.

    A key date in the process of the GOP becoming “unhinged from reality” was the day (12/11/92) when Saint Ronnie himself described Rush as “the Number One voice for conservatism.” Another key date is the day (8/29/08) McCain announced his running mate.

    According to his son, William F. Buckley said this:

    I’ve spent my entire lifetime separating the Right from the kooks

    Buckley is dead, and he lost that battle. The GOP has been assimilated by the kooks.

  29. al-Ameda says:

    @James Pearce:

    It’s interesting you say that. Last week, I had the opportunity to drive through the Eastern Plains of Colorado for a funeral. These are not thriving communities. They are places with no water and no jobs. We’re talking about places with empty mainstreets that have been hemorrhaging population over the last ten years.

    All voting Republican apparently. And then in the Denver Post this morning, there’s a story about their concerns: “gun rights, gay rights and the renewable-energy mandate.”

    Not long ago, I had an interesting political discussion with a couple of unreconstructed Boomer Lefties.

    They were going off on the wealthy elites, blaming them for ur current politics, and I disagreed, telling them beginning with Reagan working class Whites have become reliable base Republicans, they’re the ones who are resentful of ‘undeserving’ constituencies – gays, Blacks, union members, etc. The so-called very wealthy elite, is generally far less conservative than working class Whites.

    I did not convince them that plutocrats like Adelson and the Koch brothers are not to blame for this, the closets I I got from them was that Adelson and the Kochs keep working people from recognizing that they’re voting against their best interests, and I’m not buying that argument either.

  30. C. Clavin says:
  31. C. Clavin says:

    @jukeboxgrad:
    Two really good points in that link to Morning Joe:
    Frum – The lies from the Republican Entertainment Complex have left Republican Leadership no room to operate.
    Scarborough – The lies are a terrific business model for the Republican Entertainment Complex, but a lousy electoral model for the Republican Party.

  32. Tony W says:

    @C. Clavin: I would like to believe that the Entertainment approach to politics is going to collapse upon itself, but I have seen no evidence that anything of the kind is happening. Clearly there is tremendous value to being in a position to create one’s own facts.

  33. C. Clavin says:

    @Tony W:

    Clearly there is tremendous value to being in a position to create one’s own facts.

    Which of course depends on having a tremendously gullible constituency easily convinced of the total nonsense you create and sell as fact.

  34. Ben Wolf says:

    @J-Dub: Yes, I wonder what Canadians think of a future with 400 million hungry, heavily armed Americans on their bread-basket doorstep.

  35. charon says:

    @Tony W:

    Cult members typically inhabit their own reality (with their own “facts). So-called “conservatism” would be recognized as a cult if it were not legitimized by having so many members making it respectable.

  36. Moosebreath says:

    @Kylopod:

    An excellent comment, but I view Doug as not merely being in denial over the current state of politics, but actively contributing to it. His posts typically look solely to polling data as determinative of what is or is not true, rather than viewing evidence objectively as James and Steven try to do.

    Doug’s recent posts on the allegations against Hillary Clinton are emblematic of this. The sole issue Doug discusses is whether they are working and driving down her approval ratings, not whether there is any truth to the allegations, or whether even if proven there is anything wrong in what she did. The fact that it is clearly a right-wing hit job with far more smoke than fire is irrelevant to his analysis. And the issue of what it means for members of the so-called liberal media like the NY Times and Washington Post to uncritically give space to unsupported allegations against a leading Democrat is so far beyond the pale that none may mention it in a post.

  37. DrDaveT says:

    @Kylopod:

    I’m not being a liberal in these situations, I’m being Snopes.com.

    Awesome line. Consider it stolen.

    (And thanks for a great post.)

  38. DrDaveT says:

    @C. Clavin:

    [Momentous events and important issues]…and that’s boring?

    Ah, but that’s not politics. That’s policy, and governance. To someone who’s only in it for the party vs. party sport, that’s all irrelevant — and they’re a worthless parasite.

  39. jukeboxgrad says:

    C. Clavin:

    Scarborough – The lies are a terrific business model for the Republican Entertainment Complex, but a lousy electoral model for the Republican Party.

    Yes, that is a really good point. This industry (the conservative/Republican entertainment complex) is not focused on helping the GOP win elections. It’s focused on profits, and profits are arguably higher when the GOP loses.

    The GOP is being destroyed from the inside by entertainers who are profiting from its demise. And it’s poetically just that a party based on the worship of money is being cannibalized by worshippers of money.

    Tony W:

    I would like to believe that the Entertainment approach to politics is going to collapse upon itself, but I have seen no evidence that anything of the kind is happening.

    The GOP is at war with reality, and in the end reality always wins. Sometimes it just takes a while.

  40. stonetools says:

    @Kylopod:

    It stops being about debating ideas, and becomes simply a war between truth and lies.

    Yup. Another way to put it is that the Democratic Party has become the party of sane policy and the Republicans are now the party of insane policy. For example their stances on Obamacare and climate change are not only dishonest:they’re insane and irresponsible.Even Doug would admit this.
    Doug’s problem is that his preferred party is the insane party. The logical course would be to vote for the sane party. But because of his libertarian beliefs, Doug can’t bring himself to do this so… “both sides do it, a pox on both houses”, false equivalence, bla, bla bla.
    Guess what, Doug, if you were truly independent, youy would vote for the sane party and blame the insane party for advancing insane policies and blocking sane policy.

  41. Stonetools,

    You don’t get it do you?

    I don’t have a “preferred party,” and as things stand right now it is highly doubtful I will be supporting or voting for the nominee of either the Republican or Democratic Parties in 2016. You are thinking in binary terms in a non-binary world.

  42. DrDaveT says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    as things stand right now it is highly doubtful I will be supporting or voting for the nominee of either the Republican or Democratic Parties in 2016.

    So you’ve graduated from “both sides do it” to “neither side does it for me”? I’m sure your abstention will help bring about the America you pine for.

    You are thinking in binary terms in a non-binary world.

    No, he’s thinking in binary terms in a binary election.

  43. Xenos says:

    @superdestroyer:

    Why do you think the Ivy League students are overwhelmingly Democrats even though they live their personal lives very differently than the policies that those proposed by progressive

    People who live conventional, traditional lives as a matter of choice, rather than compulsion, tend not to begrudge others who make different choices. I fit pretty closely the stereotype you are describing here. Why should I think differently about others? I think people should be free.

  44. Scott F. says:

    @C. Clavin:

    I shared your dismay at the whininess of his “boring” framing, but I think you undermine your otherwise strong points when you call George Packer a hack. Though he has a tendency to pine for centrism to his detriment, he has some excellent political writing to his name and it would be a shame to dismiss him out of hand.

    Take a closer look at the article Doug has obviously only skimmed over. I see some value in all eight of the items in his wish list, especially number 7:

    7. Political reporters should embrace the value of objective truth, and adopt a policy of never repeating a party or a candidate’s dubious or false statement without exposing it in the next sentence.

    This is also not the writing of someone with a “both-sides-do-it fetish” as it clear that Packer sees the two parties facing very distinct challenges and the remedies he prescribes for each are fundamentally different.

    It is not BSDI to admit that each of the two parties has it’s issues – they’re just different issues. And it is in the Democrats’ interest to not be close-minded to opportunities to improve.

  45. C. Clavin says:

    @Scott F.:

    I think you undermine your otherwise strong points when you call George Packer a hack.

    Yeah…I was referring to Doug.

  46. T says:

    @DrDaveT:

    I’m sure your abstention will help bring about the America you pine for.

    The only winning move is not to play.

  47. James P says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    it is highly doubtful I will be supporting or voting for the nominee of either the Republican or Democratic Parties in 2016

    You know, I remember feeling this way. Of course, I was 22 at the time.

  48. Kylopod says:

    @Doug Mataconis: Let me ask you this: what tangible positive effect do you think there is in declining to vote for either of the candidates who have any serious chance at winning?

    This isn’t some academic discussion in some classroom. A Republican or Democrat will be the next president, and which one that is will make a substantial difference to the direction of US policy.

    Let’s put it this way: say you’re in need of emergency surgery and there are only two surgeons in town. The first is one you dislike and consider subpar. The second has lost his medical license and practices a mixture of homeopathic remedies and faith healing. Do you just say “Eh, they both suck” and walk home?

    Of course that sort of scenario is unlikely to happen in the real world, but it’s a pretty dead-on description of the US political system. There are other countries in the world with viable multiparty systems. The US just isn’t one of them. Like it or not, Republicans and Democrats are who we’re stuck with. This isn’t because of a lack of public will, but simply because of the way our system is structured. Voting for a third party in this country or choosing not to vote at all may feel good, but in practical terms it’s a waste–and it’s a waste that has at least as negative an effect on people’s lives than if you chose to vote for the worse of the two candidates.

  49. An Interested Party says:

    The lies are a terrific business model for the Republican Entertainment Complex, but a lousy electoral model for the Republican Party.

    Not to mention, and even more importantly, that is a lousy deal for our country as a whole and most of the people who live here…

    You are thinking in binary terms in a non-binary world.

    Except our electoral system is strictly binary…

  50. mike shupp says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Colonize the Moon, Mars, and the rest of the Solar System. Not with dozens of people but millions. Dream big. Aim for the stars.

    After mid-century the Chinese and the Indians are going to run the world. If people want a place where American values and virtues — and cuisine and language and behavioral habits — are predominant. they’re going to have to leave this planet….

    Y’know, I’m not totally convinced that’s just a story idea.

  51. ernieyeball says:

    Colonize the Moon, Mars, and the rest of the Solar System.

    AT+T is running ads themed “Where will you be watching when…?”
    …the first human lands on Mars?
    …when the first woman pitches in Major League Baseball?
    Say What?
    My Ouija Board predicts that the Cubs will win the World Series World Series on Mars before a woman throws a pitch in Major League Baseball!