More on the strategy of political dysfunction

November 3rd, 2014 at 8:07 am

Yesterday, I wrote the following:

Here at OTE, I write a lot about…market failures. But government failure is just as serious. Moreover, the failure of government to enact and implement useful economic policies in recent years is by no means a sole function of administrative incompetence or feckless bureaucrats. It is a strategy.

[While] I readily admit government failure—you’d have to swimming in de’Nile not to see that in contemporary politics—it’s essential to recognize that such failure is neither an accident nor an immutable act of nature. It’s a tactic that can be reversed.

In fact, it must be reversed if we’re going to correct market failures, the most important of which is the long-term failure of the economy to create the quantity and quality of jobs needed to reconnect growth to the living standards of the majority.

Today, I read in E.J. Dionne’s column:

In “The Cynic,” a new biography of Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, New Republic writer Alec MacGillis cites former GOP senator Bob Bennett recalling McConnell’s comments to his party colleagues at a winter retreat in 2009, at the dawn of Obama’s presidency:

“Mitch said, ‘We have a new president with an approval rating in the 70 percent area. We do not take him on frontally. We find issues where we can win, and we begin to take him down, one issue at a time. We create an inventory of losses, so it’s Obama lost on this, Obama lost on that. And we wait for the time when the image has been damaged to the point where we can take him on.’ ”

MacGillis aptly summarized the approach: “In other words, wait out Americans’ hopefulness in a dire moment for the country until it curdles to disillusionment.” This is the central cause of the dysfunction that leaves voters so disheartened. It should be rebuked rather than vindicated at the polls.

That’s what we’re dealing with and we’d better recognize it if we ever hope to change it.

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3 comments in reply to "More on the strategy of political dysfunction"

  1. Jill SH says:

    And whatcha wanna bet: As soon as Mitch McConnell deems Obama as powerless, the Republicans in the Senate will propose all that infrastructure stimulus you mention in the Posteverything column, include a few more tax cuts for the rich, hamstring O into signing the bill, and claim victory for overcoming DC gridlock.

    • JohnR says:

      Jill, I’ll take that bet – what would make you think the GOP wants to do anything that will “help America”? Failure is what the Republicans require and thrive on. The GOP ideology demands government failure so that “The Private Sector” can take over and make a profit on it. I’m sure you can come up with a privatized “stimulus” package that involves the government giving money to bankers to loan out as they see fit, but any connection to infrastructure is likely to be incidental. Still, I’m sure there’s room for some Big Dig-style projects as long as the taxpayers foot the bill and take the risks.

  2. Larry Signor says:

    I don’t think Mr. Obama will be signing anyones’ “infrastructure stimulus bill”. The 1% and corporate America see nothing to gain for their economic cohort. I could be wrong, but I do not see a kinder more equal America any time soon, but I could be wrong…right?