Politics of the Id

I avoided political news yesterday, but this morning I bit the bullet and took a look at a few postmortems. I think Charles Pierce comes closest:

I think it was contemplating the fact that both Sam Brownback and Paul LePage both may have survived as governors that was the last straw for me tonight. Brownback has wrecked his state. Even Kansas Republicans believe that. LePage is a local embarrassment who became a national embarrassment in the final days before the election. Even Maine Republicans believe that. But Brownback will go back to wrecking his state, and LePage will go back to embarrassing his because of an attitude that Republicans, and the conservative movement that has powered the party, have cultivated carefully over the last three decades. They have engaged, quite deliberately and quite successfully, in a concerted effort to convince the country that self-government is a game for suckers. Nobody does what they say they’re going to do, so ignore the fact that our candidates have drifted so far to the right that they’ll be falling into the Thames any minute now because they’re not going to act on their fringe beliefs, and just go out there and vote your Id. Once you’ve divorced the act of voting from the conviction that voting will have any connection to what the government actually does, voters do not vote their desires, they vote their anger and their fear. And Sam Brownback goes back to wrecking his state and Paul LePage goes back to embarrassing his own.

Seriously, if we’d all taken a drink every time some election night bobblehead declared voters were tired of “politics as usual” or “fed up with Washington” we’d still be passed out. The bare-assed facts of the results would suggest that voters want more of the same. They want more wreckage, more gridlock, more drama, more stagnation. Except, they probably really don’t. They’re probably mostly really disgusted. So they vote for the candidate who personifies their disgust. As Pierce says, they are voting their Id. That’s the only explanation that makes sense.

Also, too:

Let us dispense with some conventional wisdom before it petrifies. First of all, the president’s basic unpopularity was unquestionably a factor, but not anywhere near as much of a factor as was the reluctance of the Democratic party — from the president on down — to embrace the actual successes that the administration has achieved. The economy is, in fact, improving. It is the responsibility of the president and his party that we have the paradoxical polling that indicates that the elements of the Affordable Care Act are popular, while “Obamacare” is not. (Mitch McConnell told a transparent lie that Kentucky could get rid of the ACA and still keep its very popular state exchange. He didn’t suffer at all for that.) The senatorial candidates who lost were senators who ran away from the administration.

I think President Obama’s single biggest mistake as President is that he has allowed himself to become too remote. It seems to me we don’t see as much of him as we have seen past POTUSes while in office. He’s a likeable guy, and while I don’t always agree with him he’s turned the economy around quite a bit and considerably lowered the deficit. How many Americans actually know President Obama has reduced the deficit? I’d be willing to bet real money that if you stopped people randomly in the street and asked them whether the deficit has gone up or down under Obama, 99 out of 100 would say “up.”

And, of course, a lot of the reason for this is that news media don’t inform the public of anything the public needs to know about their government. All we ever hear is the spin. News for the Id.

Second, I think it’s generally true that Democratic politicians campaigning for higher offices now probably started their political careers in the 80s or 90s or early 00. They learned that the way to succeed is to not stick their necks out for progressivism. So their don’t offer a real contrast to the Republican candidates except for seeming, well blander. No Id appeal. Combine that with apparently successful voter suppression efforts, and there’s nothing to stop the Republicans from swamping the ship of state.

Last, and I hate to break this to Tom Brokaw, and to Kasie Hunt, who talked about how the Republicans know they have to “govern,” but this election couldn’t have been less of a repudiation of the Tea Party.

That’s the other howler we heard over and over election night — the GOP establishment prevailed; the Tea Party has been leashed. Seems kind of the other way around to me.

Now the bobbleheads are putting on their best suits and telling us in their polished and resonate baritones that the Republicans will have to govern. No, they don’t, and they have no intention of doing so. In fact, The Editors of National Review have declared governing to be a trap. The reasons, boiled down, are these:

  1. Governing may require compromise which may require giving Democrats something they want.
  2. If we attempt to pass legislation Democrats will just obstruct us, doing to us what we did to them. The nerve.
  3. If we actually do something it might piss off the Tea Party.
  4. If government actually started working while a Democrat is in the White House, voters might elect another Democrat in 2016.
  5. Because of the four reasons above, instead of trying to pass legislation that would require compromises with Democrat and which might not be vetoed by a Democratic President, we should focus on what we will be able to accomplish after 2016 when we are in complete control.

Seriously, look for yourself. That’s what they’re saying.

21 thoughts on “Politics of the Id

  1. Republicans, if they could, don’t want to govern.
    They want to rule.

    Yesterday, one of them said that there might be a Republican Congressional majority for 100 years – otherwise known as 1/10th of a Reich.
    With a lot of other similarities that ‘Godwin’s Law’ forbids me to mention.

    And with the constant bickering, whining, and obstruction, voters are suppressing themselves, because they figure, “Oh what difference does my vote make. These clowns are all the same. I’ll just stay home.”
    Well, no, the clowns are not the same.
    There are dangerous psychopathic “Killer Klowns,” and then there are Democratic clowns – well intentioned bumblers who are afraid to show their true faces for fear of losing elections.
    If you leave people nothing to vote for than Id, then Id-lite won’t cut it.
    They want pure Id. And conservatives ooze it!
    Have a little more Ego, Dem’s. And leave the Iding to the conservatives.

    People want an alternative to anger, fear, and madness.
    If you don’t give them a choice, they they’ll vote for the people who scare them, and then promise to protect them.


  2. I wasn’t surprised at the Senate and House results, given the things stated above, and especially that many of the seats up for grabs were in red states anyway – a pretty low bar for the Republicans. But I was surprised by the governor races – and I wonder how much of that was due to outside money.

    Point 6 – The R’s are going to actually try to govern – which will be a challenge because they have to subdue the Tea Party faction – but only in a way to get this point across to the electorate: See what we could do for this country if a Democrat were not President, holding everything up. It’s all going to be a show, an effort to capture the top prize in 2016.

  3. Great post by David Atkins at Digby that IMO gets more to the point:

    Digby and Markos have said it before: this was yet another wave election. The latest in a long string since 2006. It needs to be said again.

    Turnout keeps declining in midterm elections as people lose faith in the political process. And the people who do vote, consistently vote for someone to change something. It’s entirely likely that people will be fed up with Republicans fighting one another and putting terrible bills on the President’s desk and vote again for change in the other direction in 2016–particularly with a larger, more progressive electorate. Not a given, of course, but likely.

    And why not? The country is broken, and everyone who isn’t already wealthy knows it. Wages are stagnant; millennials are a lost generation with high student loan debt and unaffordable housing; the rich just keep getting richer; entire industries are disappearing, work hours are getting longer with lower pay, and life is generally less stable than it used to be. And it seems like absolutely nothing is going to change any of that, no matter who gets into office.

    If you’re liberal you’re inclined to blame the plutocrats for that, and you would be right. If you’re of a more conservative bent, you’ll probably blame immigrants or government regulation or godlessness….

    As things get worse, the hostility of Americans toward each other and the political process itself is only going to increase. Conservatives don’t want to live near liberals or let their children marry them. Liberals feel the same way, as well they should….

    Compromise isn’t going to fix any of this. People say they want compromise because in their personal lives compromise is how normal people solve problems. But compromise isn’t the goal–it’s a means to an end. What people want is problems to get solved. If stuffed shirt Democrats aren’t fixing things, maybe the nice smiling folksy pro-business lady will get in there and do something. Obviously Obama isn’t getting anything done.

    That’s what’s going on. It isn’t as if the Republican brand or Republican policies somehow got more popular. They didn’t. And the next time around people will probably be saying “well, let’s try putting a woman in office and some agreeable politicians and see.” But they’ll flip again when things don’t change. Demography will ultimately doom the current incarnation of the Republican Party, but not before something snaps.

    Eventually this will reach a breaking point. It has to. It’ll break when some sufficiently large crisis occurs, and one side is fully prepared to use that seething rage for constructive outcomes….

    Or dictatorship.

  4. I think it’s going to be more of a case for the politics of the egos now that the Repugs will be running the show. Ted Cruz has already announced his self appointment as Master of Ceremonies for the greatest show on earth. He’s already said in effect that McConnell will be his bitch.

  5. Democrats suck at campaigning…that’s as true as Republican faith in Reaganomics.

    Previously: “Dems are bracing themselves for losing the Senate tomorrow. Some are consoling themselves by saying this will be a wake-up call for progressives. To which I say, sweetums, if they ain’t awake already, I don’t know what’s going to do it.”

    I think you’re wrong: its not that things can’t get worse, but that democracy itself has become corrupted. Chomsky called this nearly 30 years ago.

    • “I think you’re wrong: its not that things can’t get worse, but that democracy itself has become corrupted. Chomsky called this nearly 30 years ago.” Of course politics are corrupt, and IMO Pierce is looking at the consequence of that corruption — that people no longer expect anything from government and vote accordingly.

  6. Low turnout is a critical part of the story. I found a list showing turnout by state here. It’s disgracefully low, as expected, but at least we can take some comfort in knowing that only about 21% of the people of Kansas actually voted for Sam Brownback. There are plenty of voters the Democrats could reach if only they could generate some Id appeal of their own.

  7. Mostly agree, maha, but if you ask people if they know Obama has reduced the deficit, that 99% will say “what’s a deficit?” The narrative of the election was set by the media months ago. Does anybody wonder why so few vote when the media have already declared the election over and analyzed the results before the voting begins?

  8. What’s the matter with kids these days, that they can’t go to state-supported colleges and don’t have decent high schools? Back when I was their age, we had people called “grownups” who paid taxes to ensure that we would have these things. Why can’t these kids do what we did?

  9. I think President Obama’s single biggest mistake as President is that he has allowed himself to become too remote.

    According to Obama he didn’t inject himself into any contests where he wasn’t invited. He said he understood that some candidates didn’t want to get tarnished by association with him and he didn’t feel slighted if that was their desire.
    Personally I think that the candidates who distanced themselves from Obama did so at their own peril. They were reacting to the Repug’s narrative and strategy that Obama is a weak and failed president. So they danced to the Repug’s tune.

    Maybe I’m starry eyed when it comes to Obama, but I think he’s gotten a raw deal when it comes to assessing his Presidency. He’s made decisions I haven’t agreed with, but I have yet to see a flaw in his character or sensed the deceit and insincerity that is characteristic of so many politicians. I see Obama a decent and honest man. Not like guys like Marco Rubio who have deceit and fraud emanating from their being the minute they open their mouths. Oozing deceit!
    I guess that’s just the “fine upstanding Christian character”* in me that allows me to look past the veneer of respectability that so many of these political ass clowns dress themselves with and see how morally bankrupt they really are. A slime bucket by any other name is still a slime bucket.

    * That’s a little levity.. 🙂 For those who don’t understand it..I guess the infamous words of John Riggins to Sandra Day O’Connor would apply.

  10. Boehner also said that if President Barack Obama unilaterally loosens some immigration regulations, he will “poison the well and there will be no chance of immigration reform moving” in the next two years.

    Well, they’re setting Obama up already.. They are going to sit on their hands and force Obama to act and then use that action as an excuse for why they did nothing. They are unrelenting in their desire to destroy Obama’s Presidency. It’s a shame so many people can’t see that reality.

  11. If you consider what happened in Florida, you can see that people were divided between Rick Scott, a former “radical” republican who has moved slightly to the center, and Charlie crist, a former moderate Republican Governor. In a previous campaign, charlie said he would govern in the “Bush tradition”. And the Democrats embraced charlie when we switched parties after his “come to Jesus moment” when he accepted the stimulus money offered from Obama.
    The election was very close. Some reasonable Republicans no doubt voted for him over Scott, but Scott’s campaign was focused on painting charlie as a “flip flopper” and a selfish man. It worked, along with the millions more Scott spent.
    I travel a lot in my job, and everywhere I go, fox news is on. We all know it’s a republican propaganda machine, but it’s very effective because it is always on everywhere. Besides that, the internet and social media are strongly influencing opinions, most are fear driven, and older people are easier to scare.

  12. The Republicans won, but so did a leftist agenda: marijuana legalization, no fetal personhood, a higher minimum wage. If the R’s don’t dare govern on their own issues, then why not on those issues? Both deep-blue DC and deep-red Alaska legalized marijuana; how bipartisan can you get?

    Hey, how about we get the Palins on board? Dear Sarah Palin, meet Mary Jane; she’s a lot mellower than Jack Daniels; she won’t get you into a brawl.

  13. Swami said: “Well, they’re setting Obama up already.. They are going to sit on their hands and force Obama to act and then use that action as an excuse for why they did nothing. They are unrelenting in their desire to destroy Obama’s Presidency. It’s a shame so many people can’t see that reality.”

    People can’t see that reality because we have no “free” press anymore doing their part in helping Americans to know what is real and what isn’t.

  14. A few of us are old enough to recognize the name Willie Mosconoi – one of the most skillful pool players to ever pick up a cue. When someone asked Mosconi’s manager after a tournament, why Willie was successful, he replied that Willie’s opponent was always playing Willie, and Willie was always playing pool. That’s always seemed profound to me and it may illustrate a point here.

    The republicans aren’t ‘playing pool’ – they don’t have plans to govern other than lowering taxes and gutting the power of the federal government to regulate anything. They are ‘playing Willie’ all the time – their strategy is to be against all things Obama, all things liberal. Their platform is to be opposed to the democratic platform. This should be a strategy for second place, but they are doing extremely well. Why?

    You win a pool tournament by sinking more balls than your opponent. Elections have become sophisticated popularity contests where objective measurements (like balls in the pockets) are irrelevant. Suppose there was a pool news network who spent years conditioning pool fans that all Italians are lousy at pool. Somehow the objective ‘score’ has got to become the most important metric for voters.

    How about a program called, “A fact is a fact.” Mail out purely factual information on an ongoing basis citing objective, indisputable facts about unemployment, the deficit, the number of people with medical insurance, the number of real documented cases of voter fraud vs the impact of voter suppression (if the case can be made with real numbers) – facts about how many nominees have been blocked (compared to other presidencies) how unproductive the congress has become compared to previous congresses. POUND on objective facts and ask voters to resist being manipulated by emotional or deceptive appeals. I’m suggesting a long-term program designed to push the dialogue outside of hot-button emotionalism and into something rational.

  15. erinyes…My wife is a registered Repubican and when it came to voting for the Governor she didn’t care much for the choices presented to her. But when she read about Pam Bondi’s unofficial and non binding wedding ceremony in the Cayman Islands in which Governor Scott was in attendance as a best man or a de facto father of the bride. She was incensed at the idea that a standing Governor would participle in a mockery of the sacred institution of marriage. It was an affront to her Christian values that both the Attorney General and the Governor would engage in a Bacchanalia type activity thinking they could hide it from the public.

    In our day we would call what Pam Bondi did shacking up and what the Governor did was to be an active participant in that charade of a mock marriage. These are the same people who espouse family values and accuse others of having no core values.
    Another reason my wife didn’t vote for Voldemort or Bondi was the issue of rescheduling an execution date because it conflicted with Bondi’s fund raising activities. Not because of an eagerness to see somebody executed, but because it diminished a sense of solemnity that the we as a society owe to ourselves when taking the life of any human being. It’s just a tad tasteless to say.. Could we fry him on Saturday night because I have a fund raising soiree scheduled for Friday night?

  16. I worked with a guy about 10 years ago who thought antibiotics were a waste. His grandma would have used a pork fat poltis, and that worked just fine. Song of the day; sympathy for the devil by the rolling stones.

  17. This was a congressional election, Obama was not on the ballot! I really don’t buy the bullshit that Obama brought the democrats down, the democrats dragged themselves into the stink. Had they shown some backbone and stood for something, stood with the president they would have been better off. Instead they were directed by their leadership to turn away from Obama. Obama is not the issue it is the congressional leaders, just look at the polls Congress is at 13% approval, Obama is at 40%. It is time for new leadership in the party, time for Nancy and Harry to step aside. And please stop putting that disaster Debbie Wasserman on TeeVee she just plain sucks. The democrats will never win back either branch until they clean their own house!

  18. Interesting, swami. I didn’t know about bondi’s party, but she sure has a profound creepy thing going. Amazing what a different plane bondi and Scott live on.
    My wife has a strong “dislike” for Charlie because she works for an insurance company that he threatened to push out of Florida.

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