Sunday, February 28, 2016

The Governing Cancer of Our Time

We live in a big, diverse society. There are essentially two ways to maintain order and get things done in such a society — politics or some form of dictatorship. Either through compromise or brute force. Our founding fathers chose politics.

Politics is an activity in which you recognize the simultaneous existence of different groups, interests and opinions. You try to find some way to balance or reconcile or compromise those interests, or at least a majority of them. You follow a set of rules, enshrined in a constitution or in custom, to help you reach these compromises in a way everybody considers legitimate.

The downside of politics is that people never really get everything they want. It’s messy, limited and no issue is ever really settled. Politics is a muddled activity in which people have to recognize restraints and settle for less than they want. Disappointment is normal.

But that’s sort of the beauty of politics, too. It involves an endless conversation in which we learn about other people and see things from their vantage point and try to balance their needs against our own. Plus, it’s better than the alternative: rule by some authoritarian tyrant who tries to govern by clobbering everyone in his way.

As Bernard Crick wrote in his book, “In Defence of Politics,” “Politics is a way of ruling divided societies without undue violence.”

Over the past generation we have seen the rise of a group of people who are against politics. These groups — best exemplified by the Tea Party but not exclusive to the right — want to elect people who have no political experience. They want “outsiders.” They delegitimize compromise and deal-making. They’re willing to trample the customs and rules that give legitimacy to legislative decision-making if it helps them gain power.

Ultimately, they don’t recognize other people. They suffer from a form of political narcissism, in which they don’t accept the legitimacy of other interests and opinions. They don’t recognize restraints. They want total victories for themselves and their doctrine.

Read the rest here.


lannes said...

Liberal claptrap. Subtle, but still claptrap.

William Tighe said...

Agreed, Iannes - but what does Iambres think?

John (Ad Orientem) said...

I tend to agree. But then again I am not a republican. I am a monarchist. Those who subscribe to a republican form of government I think will have a hard time presenting a contrary argument.

Gregory Manning said...

I too tend to agree. The problem is that such as Brooks are in effect saying: "If the toss of the coin results in 'heads-they win; tails-you lose', then just vote them out for a platform that results in 'heads-you lose; tails-they win', so shut up!

The Anti-Gnostic said...

Brooks ends his column by quoting the venerable Harold Laski, whom I failed to recall from among the unnamed Founders that Brooks invokes a few paragraphs above. Turns out Laski was a Jewish socialist of no account who was born in Britain and politically active in the 1930s. That's who Brooks cites as authoritative on the American political system.

Loren said...

Brooks uses Trump as his example but there are myriad on the other end of the political spectrum. There have been so many examples of people driven from the public square and the market because they express opinions that are not acceptable to the mobs. The author would do well to address these as well.