The Dissonance

You know, I think the two major political parties have pretty severe problems with cognitive dissonance. Cognitive dissonance is the mind’s struggle to maintain contradictory beliefs.

In the Republicans’ case for the last three decades they’ve been preaching small government while doing almost nothing to reduce the size and reach of government. The resolution of their conflict seems to be the quasi-religious but empirically unfounded belief that tax cuts always pay for themselves.

The Democrats for their part struggle to be the party of the little guy while deriving most of their strength from the very biggest guys. Their resolution appears to be the equally dubious belief that if you just pay the top quintile of income earners enough it will solve the problems of the poor.

For the Republicans their long-overdue chickens have come home to roost and the name of the rooster is “Donald Trump”. I think he’s the candidate of “throw the bums out”. It hasn’t dawned on Trump supporters yet that even if he wins the bums will still be left in.

The Democrats have yet to receive their comeuppance but I believe it’s inevitable that they will. When they do it will be, as somebody might say, yuge.

16 comments… add one
  • CStanley

    HRC and DJT are both unacceptable candidates for me but as a Republican, and someone who sees the need for change, DJT is the one who could theoretically earn my vote.

    Initially I’d hoped he could do that by demonstrating that the Trump brand and persona was just an act, but alas, there does not appear to be a serious person underneath. The one remaining thing that perhaps could make a difference would be a focus on cleaning up the beaurocracy. I can’t understand why his advisors don’t see this potentials- they have a guy who gained national celebrity with the catch phrase “You’re fired” and they aren’t pushng the narrative that he will put some heads on the chopping block? Why not tie this to “Crooked Hillary”, by pointing out the complicity of DOJ and others?

    If he began talking more about this, I’d still be highly skeptical about his seriousness and commitment (just as I feel about his pledge on SCOTUS justices) but I might give him a shot.

  • CStanley
  • Modulo Myself

    I don’t think the Democrats are going to receive their comeuppance, simply because the party is an actual coalition of humans, most of whom are not sitting around longing for the day when their foes are taught a lesson and learn their place.

    The party is going to change drastically, and the elite are going to react poorly in preplanned PR releases, but there’s no Trump coming, there’s no pointless anger and idiotic sense of betrayal. I loathe the Clintons but I don’t want to see them get their comeuppance. Who cares? Their lives are not mine.

    I could handle about three seconds of George W. Bush speaking as President before I started talking at the television, but now he’s just this dimwitted relic of an attempted empire. And I follow politics. Do you think rank and file Democrats are sitting around listening to talk radio all day high on their grievances? There’s no way.

    So there’s a change coming with the Democrats but it’s going to be just as intolerable to the Americans who support Trump as Obama and the Clintons are. And what will make it intolerable will be that it won’t about teaching those bums a lesson or two, or showing that dumb bitch what’s really going on and firing her and the other pointy heads down at the bureaucracy. It will (I believe) be actually hopeful and expressive and able to handle contradictions without lying 24/7 about them because we’re America.

    Make America nothing again.

  • CStanley

    It will (I believe) be actually hopeful and expressive and able to handle contradictions without lying 24/7 about them because we’re America

    What makes you believe this? Such a vision is not based in the reality of human nature, at all.

  • Modulo Myself

    What makes you believe this? Such a vision is not based in the reality of human nature, at all.

    Well I strongly disagree. We are sinners, but we aren’t the sad creations of economic models. Humans are able to form complicated social structures; they are capable of trust, empathy, and respect without being fools. But I’m not a conservative. I think irony and vicious humor and art go along with actual positive values, whereas, as far as I can tell, conservatives believe we need order and discipline so that we don’t eat each other up.

  • CStanley

    Humans are able to form complicated social structures; they are capable of trust, empathy, and respect without being fools.

    I don’t see evidence of this beyond small group structures, and even there it is vastly inconsistent. This has always seemed an irony to me regarding progressive ideology- it seems more possible to achieve what you desire on much smaller scales, yet you’ve thrown your lot in with those who desire centralized government in a large and culturally diverse nation.

  • Modulo Myself

    This has always seemed an irony to me regarding progressive ideology- it seems more possible to achieve what you desire on much smaller scales, yet you’ve thrown your lot in with those who desire centralized government in a large and culturally diverse nation.

    Unless progressives are anarchists I don’t see this as being terribly ironic. You can believe that government is a historical necessity that we will be living with barring a revolution and that the state is a creation of humans and not the only possibility out there.

    And unless you are an anarchist, every form of power is centralized. In the libertarian paradise where Pinkertons were free to shoot strikers in mining camps who gave them that power? Did the diverse community of striking mine workers, mine owners, and Pinkertons decide, absent the evil eye of bureaucrats, that this was the system they were for?

  • michael reynolds

    Modulo:

    I think I basically agree. At least I hope you’re right.

    The Democratic Party has serious problems. It’s not the combination stroke-cancer-schizophrenia that has seized the GOP, but we are far from healthy. We’ve defined ourselves since the Civil Rights era as the party of minority liberation, and we are just about out of minorities to liberate. I suspect the race-gender paradigm is going to fade a bit, despite the GOP’s best efforts to keep racism and misogyny alive, and then we’re going to have to talk class, which is not something we’ve done much of lately.

    We are a coalition of well-off coastal elites and disadvantaged minorities – and we need to be talking class which may not be such a happy conversation for we of the coastal elite. The funny (?) thing is that if the GOP could ever get over its racism and misogyny they could scoop up working class whites and working class Latinos and Africa-Americans, and have themselves a potential populist majority. We’re essentially being propped up by the sheer nastiness and imbecility of our opponents. That’s not a good place to be long-term – they could stop being quite so stupid and we’d fall on our faces. They’d have us this year if they hadn’t nominated a baboon.

  • If it’s not clear, I’m basically in agreement with Michael.

    IMO a lot depends on whether you think that Detroit and Chicago are exceptional or the canaries in the coal mine.

  • CStanley

    MM: It’s a shame there’s no possible middle ground between anarchy and the Leviathan federal government favored by the the modern Democratic Party. Also a pity that no group of intellectuals has been able to conceive of a governmental structure that balances local and national interests. It seems like I remember some guys coming up with an idea like that once but I guess nothing came of it.

  • michael reynolds

    State and local control might have remained more robust notions had politicians not used same to deny basic rights to minorities. It was Civil Rights that destroyed the legitimacy of state/local vs. federal. Had the GOP not reacted to Civil Rights by embracing Dixiecrats with the southern strategy one might still be able to mount a case for state/local.

    Then there is the inconsistency of Republicans on state and local whenever the subject turns to gun control, pot legalization, abortion and so on. Democrats are all over the map, too, favoring pot legalization in Colorado, for example, but we aren’t the ones holding up ‘state and local’ as some kind of cure-all.

    So in the end what ‘state and local’ tends to mean to me is GOP voter suppression, anti-gay laws, shoot-the-negro laws and idiots carrying assault rifles around the mall. In other words, yet another theory that in practice is about nothing but maintaining the power of the GOP, like pretty much everything the GOP claims to believe in but happily abandons as soon as a reality-show freak comes along to start naming scapegoats.

  • steve

    “The Democrats for their part struggle to be the party of the little guy while deriving most of their strength from the very biggest guys. ”

    You kind of have to go where the money is. There isn’t enough union money to pay for everything, but of course that is just in donations. The really big money and influence comes from the mega wealthy. Those same wealthy people can reward supporters with jobs and help kids get into the good colleges. As long as we have such disparities in income and wealth, not sure how we get around this.

    Steve

  • CStanley

    State and local control might have remained more robust notions had politicians not used same to deny basic rights to minorities.

    Agree, Michael, but that doesn’t nullify the whole concept. And your point of misuse of power also applies to Democrats who may have (reluctantly, and in my cynical opinion in part for the trade off of black votes for those of Southern whites) used federal powers for good purposes in the Civil Rights era but have gone way beyond that. We’re now at the point where the federal bureaucracy can’t perform its basic functions, and the social contract has broken down in part because so many citizens feel that their rights and preferences are ignored.

    So instead of abandoning principles, why not hold our elected officials accountable for proper use of those principles?

  • Guarneri

    “As far as I can tell, conservatives believe we need order and discipline so that we don’t eat each other up.”

    “So in the end what ‘state and local’ tends to mean to me is GOP voter suppression, anti-gay laws, shoot-the-negro laws and idiots carrying assault rifles around the mall.”

    When happening upon writing such as this one can only muse as to the origins of such startling neurotic disorders in people.

  • Ben Wolf

    That’s a solid analysis, Michael.

  • Gray Shambler

    Politics is the pursuit of power by any means, especially by morphing into whatever creature the electorate, and the donors seem to want. Why should we be surprised at the kind of people attracted to the profession?
    And then why are we surprised when, once in power, they begin to busy themselves with enjoying the power they have seized?
    Wikileaks released some transcripts of Hillary’s Wall street speeches. What did She tell the big money managers, at $20,000 per? Whatever they wanted to hear, of course. No surprise there.

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