Friday, April 9, 2010

Figuring Out the Republicans

Here's Brad DeLong's attempt to understand the Republican Party:
Dean Acheson said that the Progressive/New Deal Democratic Party was the party of everybody else--everybody for whom the American Horatio Alger story was not firing on all cylinders (which was how the Progressive/New Deal Democratic Party could contain both relatively-poor white racists and the African-Americans they oppressed). The Republican Party was, he said, by contrast the party of enterprise--the party of making the American system and the American Horatio Alger story work better for those for whom it worked.

Noah Millman wonders what happend to that Republican Party. He has a bunch of answers. But I think he misses the big one: the Republican Party is no longer the party of enterprise; instead, it is the party of un-enterprising wealth--those who have and are scared that they might lose--and of those who are scared that somewhere, somehow some different-looking people are getting something. That is what unites Robert Samuelson and Sarah Palin, Newt Gingrich and Larry Kudlow. And a party whose mainsprings are aristocratic privilege and populist ressentiment is not going to be an attractive place.
Go read the DeLong post. He includes an analysis by Noah Millman.


Unknown said...

I read Brad Delong's piece and found it quite fun to read. The analysis by Noah Millman is very good (some good points of blame). I liked the one about "Blame the Money":

Blame the money. Is there a major patron of conservative intellectuals who is a patron primarily because he or she wants to generate new ideas, insights, works of the spirit.... Ron Unz is the only person who comes immediately to mind... there is an enormous difference between bankrolling a person or organization because you like what they think, and bankrolling a person or organization because you like the way they think.... Ultimately, you can only have an intelligentsia if you have patrons who are interested in learning things they don’t already know....

That last line is, I think, the biggest problem in the Republican party and conservatives. It is one of the reasons that Frum is out; they don't want to learn new things.

RYviewpoint said...

Thomas: Glad you liked the piece by DeLong and the article he pointed us at.

But I feel honour-bound to say that Democrats have a number of problems in their ranks as well. But while the Republicans are on a rampage I'll ignore the faults and sins of the Democrats. Once things settle down, I'll get on my high horse about idiocies in the Democratic party.

Since Canada has one-tenth the population of the US, federal politics here is more akin to state politics in big states like California, New York, or Texas. But since we have more parties, it means there are more ways for the political crazies to run off the reservation and create problems for themselves and their parties. It is quite entertaining.

The only saving grace in Canada is that the ethic here is more like the US 40 years ago. There is still a bit of decency left in campaigning. There is still a bit in the Canadian character that respects reserve and moderation.

The US is fascinating for Canadians. In a sense they are peering into their future and find it horrifying. They are attracted because of the money and the size and the audacity. At the same time they are appalled at the direction the US is headed (and only too aware that we are being pulled into that vortex by the forces of media, money, and modernity).