Monday, April 18, 2016

Two-Party Pooper

Medicare for all makes sense.  So does paying for college for Americans.  And better regulation of financial institutions.  I have no real argument with this stuff.  The details deserve a close look, but that's not something we get from Sanders.  As long as some loud, white political junkies are pleased, he's got a campaign on his hands.

It's possible to make these things work, but if we only do it halfway, we end up with a total disaster.  There's definitely an element of the sunk-cost fallacy in there, but that's a theme in American elections.  "Am I better off than I was 8 years ago?" is the too-simple frame that our too-simple party system forces us to use.

I loved this interview with Barney Frank.

I am disappointed by the voters who say, “OK I’m just going to show you how angry I am!” And I’m particularly unimpressed with people who sat out the Congressional elections of 2010 and 2014 and then are angry at Democrats because we haven’t been able to produce public policies they like. They contributed to the public policy problems and now they are blaming other people for their own failure to vote, and then it’s like, “Oh look at this terrible system,” but it was their voting behavior that brought it about.
He's not being diplomatic, and probably not taking enough credit for government dysfunction, but overall, he's right.  It takes some work to support an ambitious agenda, but Americans should be honored to be a part of making things better.  If we're not going to bother, we are effectively signing on with the Republican self-fulfilling prophecy of broken government.

People have needs that are being unmet. Polarization along party lines has become its own end, which may in fact be the end of the parties.

Bernie Sanders tells us he's part of a revolution, but when he fails, he's giving us a nice feeling while we burn a potential movement down.  And we'll just blame him (like a lot of Bernie supporters blame Obama), instead of looking at why nothing changed.  A president is just an administrator.

So maybe I'm not just mad at Bernie, but the asinine black-and-white system that produces lightweights like him.  If the opposition party didn't basically live on another planet, it might work to refine the details of good ideas.

You could say a lot of this about Barack Obama, but I'd respond that his administration has given us about as much progress as possible in the system we have, with the electorate we are.

So what exactly do I think we should do?  For now, I think electing Hillary Clinton President is our best move.  Keep people like Wyden and Warren in the Senate, and concentrate on actual lawmakers before we let presidents break our hearts again.