Why America needs thousands of political parties


Plenty of Americans — millions of them, in fact — will disagree with the argument made by Jonathan Rauch and Benjamin Wittes in the March issue of The Atlantic that boycotting the Republican Party is “a moral necessity.” I am not one of them.

“Metaphysics,” F.H. Bradley once wrote, “is the finding of bad reasons for what we believe upon instinct.” The Oxford philosopher might have been talking about a certain kind of middlebrow intellectual journalism. After a long self-indulgent parading of their own centrist virtues and hatred of partisanship, Rauch and Wittes argue that no decent American can vote in good faith for any candidate with an R after his name. Not because the GOP is an intellectually moribund party whose only natural constituency is persons whose economic well-being is for them at best a matter of indifference, a party that in the last two decades has been responsible for two failed wars, a party that came within a few votes of handing over Social Security to Wall Street on the eve of the 2008 crash.

No, the reason that Republicans are beyond the pale is that they have the same animal logo as President Trump, whose Twitter timeline they summarize as if it were evidence of a year-long fascist coup instead of a series of embarrassing online temper tantrums.

But if the argument is that this has anything to do with the so-called “rule of law,” they are being deliberately amnesiac here. How can a person go in the space of a paragraph from proudly citing his support for the handing over of extra-constitutional powers to secret judges and the continued operation of a base where suspects were routinely tortured to warbling about the “rule of law”? Was President Obama a threat to the rule of law when he remade American immigration law with the stroke of a pen? Was George W. Bush when he authorized torture in secret prisons on the other side of the world, let our intelligence services spy on Americans without a warrant, and, oh, yes, took us to a war that was never declared by Congress? The truth is that the rule of law as it is discussed by Federalist Society types and goody-goody liberals alike is a polite fiction that means whatever the party in control is able to get away with doing under the present circumstances. This reality might well be a horrifying one, but curiously enough it only seems to upset half the population half the time.

As I said earlier, I do not actually disagree with Rauch and Wittes. But this has nothing to do with concern-trolling about the rule of law and everything to do with the fact that the Republicans are reckless, childish, incompetent, and totally uninterested in the common good. Which is why I think that their proposed boycott should apply to the Democrats as well, to whom every single one of these adjectives could be applied with equal force and precision.

Polling from the last election confirms …read more

Source:: The Week – Politics


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