Above Ideology

Douthat always flaps his mouth-butt when it’s my goddamn turn to blog: 

In the Democratic coalition more than the Republican one, meritocracy and technocracy have long been unifying forces. Bill Clinton and Barack Obama represented somewhat different party factions, but they both embodied wonkery, a vision of competence and expertise governing to some extent above ideology, in which there are assumed to be “correct answers” to policy dilemmas that a disinterested observer could acknowledge and the right technocrat achieve.

Well, when one judges a solution “correct” on the basis of “how many Americans will this solution keep alive,” then yes, Clinton and Obama were “above ideology.” Sure. You fuckwit.

Like what do these people, who are PROFESSIONAL KNOWERS OF POLITICS, think politics IS? What do they think ideology is FOR? I hate more than almost anything else about our current sitch the idea that things can be discounted if they’re “ideological” or “partisan.” Like the whole reason for an ideology is to advocate for the stuff you want done, and you do in fact have ways to evaluate the correctness of that stuff.

I know Pope Douthat, Joseph Ratzinger’s number-one fan, is all about there actually being a right and a wrong, but that doesn’t mean ideology automatically gets in the way of that. Most of the time it helps.

But Sanders is different; he has policy plans, too, but he’s fundamentally a moralist arguing for a politics of righteous struggle, in a way that separates him from Warren as well as from Buttigieg or Bloomberg.

Um, I think part of Bernie’s whole THING is that he has policies he think will bring about his worldview. That he is good at articulating a coherent and moral vision for the future doesn’t mean he has no way to make it happen. What the shit is this. I’m hardly a Bernie fangirl, he’s like my 3rd or 4th choice, but Ross here is calling him a poet as an insult and that’s not all right.

And just as Donald Trump benefited in 2016 — and figures like Ted Cruz and Jeb Bush suffered — from a sense that the G.O.P.’s libertarian and neoconservative intelligentsia bore some responsibility for the double disasters of Iraq and the financial crisis, Sanders benefits from a widespread left-wing disappointment with what the Obama-era politics of expertise produced.

Let’s deal with this in order:

  1. Donald Trump benefited from a four-decade project to nurture racism and white resentment, along with a 24-hour propaganda network devoted to treating him like the second coming.

Donald Trump did not win because people didn’t want a technocrat no more. He won because white people went insane as a result of having to listen to a black man try to give them most of what they wanted for eight really short years.

So if the exhaustion with technocracy makes a socialist a viable nominee, that exhaustion plus a solid economy explains why the socialist may yet fall to an even more archaic breed — a party politician.

Why is that bad? Why … are we just supposed to accept that as bad? Why is “partisan” not a set of solutions (that may or may not be, gasp, correct) but some kind of disqualification? Why are politicians only rewarded for not being part of the party they’re a part of? I do not GET this.

I mean, it’s Ross, so it’s always possible he’s just an idiot. There’s always that option out there.


3 thoughts on “Above Ideology

  1. I really dislike rhetorical questions, because I often think they aren’t. But let me try to help you suss this out, to wit – an extended fart metaphor

    The professional-havers-of-opinions are as knowledgeable about their professed areas of expertise as a bag of farts is to the previous evening’s dinner. As a long-timer reader of you, Driftglass and Yastreblansky – I figure I am retreading well-trodd ground here.

    Ideology and partisanship scares these methane connaisseurs in the same way that Dobie Gillis responds to suggestions of employment: Work?!? He definitely has something better and more important to do, and probably best to let someone, anyone else do the heavy lifting.

    The reason this is true, and I think you point to it rather well, is that ideology and partisanship align (amongst us) as a selections of policy alternatives and proposals which seek to achieve the primary goal of 1) keeping more People alive at a higher quality of life for a longer quantity of same. There are many paths to this, and many metrics by which to measure it. This is why we debate these incomes and outcomes.

    And yeah, that’s pretty much it.

    There is no two, except maybe doing some really cool shit once we are well-down-the-road to nailing #1. . . you know, like Star Trekking pneumatic doors in every room, teleporters between cities and negotiating peace between the Klingons and Romulons based on sustainably-sourced trilithium supplies and space-time continuum-friendly Warp travel. AFTER #1 is in the box.

    What frustrates us all to almost no end, but is the lifeblood of our MSM dutch oven officianados and cropduster pilots, is that there is no #1 policy debate among “the moderates and the Republicans” because as far as political parties and ideologies go, they are really only interested in the great lake-fart-lighting they will do when Arctic methane pools are released from the permafrost. They are Steven King’s Trashcan men. I think I speak for more than just myself that, when it comes to lighting farts, I have never stopped anyone from doing it to themselves, but I do not encourage it, and will not allow anyone to do it others without specific, positive consent. And, as the holidays roll around, little kids eat at a card table over a hard surface floor, adults get the nice China and real silver candlesticks, while fart-lighters eat out on the patio with LED candles and corked forks.

    So, while we want to put Bernie and Liz, Mayor Pete and Uncle Joe on a balance, and test their ideas toward our policy goals and preferences at the adult table, the hyperfenators from beyond the sliding glass doors keep interrupting with their paper bags and bic lighters, demanding to be taken seriously because they are the real grown-ups. And because this is not MindWalk or even a Clark Griswold Family film, but rather a documentary of the distopic Idiocracy, the camera,points at and the Oscars go to Ass – the Movie. The Grammy award for soundtrack, solo and pop album – Ass, the Soundtrack. And every other film, discussion and new pilot episode will be Ass, Butts and/or Tush (after dark).

    His Eminence Douthat is among the worst here because he seems to believe that the only way to get the gassy to discuss real issues of moral and political change is by having our side stop all the farting by giving them the table and then we go sit outside.

    What makes this feel like work for Douthat et al, is that, as Driftglass says, to START discussing policy, instead of just deriding our ideologues, Douthat would have to change – and part of that change (because it would be different) he has to admit that he either has never known a thing about the policies about which he wrote and was paid a mint under false pretenses, or that he realized that he used to think that he was a smart feller, but now fully understands (and that quite late) that, in fact, he had been just another fart smeller.

    Yours, In Solidarity –
    From the Arctic socialist hellscape of brown cheese and waffles.


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