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  • Political Dialogue

    Posted by Jonathan on November 4th, 2006 (All posts by )

    What follows are the edited contents of an email exchange Lex and I had Friday.

    ———————–

    Jonathan:

    Republicans are in the mid-twenties on Intrade. The sour sentiment on the Internet is so thick you can cut it with a knife. Everyone on blogs seems to hate W and the Republicans, including Republicans. I think the sentiment is overdone. It is way beyond rational. Could be there is going to be a blowout favoring the Democrats. Sabato seems to think so. Or maybe there will be some opinion retracement favoring the Republicans, over the weekend, but that’s speculation on my part. Should be interesting. Not good for the country, I think. The Internet seems to help the Democrats as well as the Republicans, and the press have basically sold their souls for the Dems.

    Lex:

    That 20 only means that there is an 80% chance that the Ds will have a majority of one or more. That seems likely to me, too.

    The blogosphere is anything but representative of the normal world. It is a bunch of political junkies. And the “conservatives” are really politically unreasonable libertarians. The GOP base will turn out pretty well, and it will not be a blowout. There is only a blowout when the election is nationalized on some issue. The country may be mad about Iraq, but the Ds have offered no affirmative reason to vote for them. So, there may be some protest voting and sitting-it-out, but no groundswell for the Ds. I think they’ll end up with a majority of five or fewer seats.

    Many of the small-l libertarian bloggers are being really stupid. They have a real loathing for most Republicans. Such people hate religion, for example, and religious people, and cultural issues are a big deal for them, and they are embarrassed to be associated with people who seem unsophisticated and go to church. So, bloggers who think like this like the idea of a GOP defeat since they seem to think that it will somehow, some way, will lead to a world where there is a pro-gay, pro-abortion, low tax, pro-gun party. This is puerile idiocy. Nothing like that will ever happen.

    The fact is that the economy is in great shape. The GOP has been very good on tax cuts, and we have all benefited from that. The GOP has been solid on guns. The GOP has been solid on judicial appointments. On earmarks, I don’t like it, but the Ds are just as bad. It is a wash. On border security, there is genuine disagreement within the party about what to do. On Iraq, I am not happy, but the Donks have offered nothing coherent and I do not trust them generally to behave as adults when trusted with adult responsibility for national security. The forthcoming appointment of Alcee Hastings to a position of major responsibility only shows how out of touch they are. The idea that the right/libertarian blogosphere will somehow be happier with Speaker Pelosi, or that there will somehow be less spending or lower taxes or more gun rights if the Ds control anything shows the kind of stupid naivete that marks much small-l libertarian thinking.

    Jonathan:

    We’ll see. The question is whether the elections have indeed been nationalized around the war and Bush.

    Intrade is inept for not having contracts on the size of the Dem/Rep majority.

    Jonathan:

    Good comment on [other blog]. Some of these anti-immigration people are idiots. Do they really think that racializing the issue is going to work in their political favor? Use a term like “white country” as a term of approbation and you immediately get most of the people listening to you to write you off as a racist kook. Of course some of these people really are racist kooks.

    (The hard Left is just as bad, since it calls everyone who disagrees with its positions racists.)

    Lex:

    There are some nutjobs on the Right, after all.

    Buckley’s genius was marginalizing them and coming up with a coherent conservatism that was capable of being a majority.

    As the coherence of conservatism fractures, we’ll see more and more such people vying for attention.

    Jonathan:

    I think we’re near the political limits of this breakup on the Right, since it’s getting to the point where it’s going to cost Republicans elections.

    Lex:

    Too early to say. Sometimes political parties just fly apart into pieces. It happens, as a matter of history.

    I think we need to see more sensible voices taking advantage of the Net. What we see is that ideologically committed people are the ones who have the time and inclination to take advantage of the new technology. Ideologically committed people destroy parties, which are necessarily unprincipled coalitions looking for incremental gains, and lose elections. The Left has suffered from this for a long time. Now, with the Internet, it is the Right’s turn. Creating a centrist position in a time when the most uncompromising voices are the loudest is a serious problem, for politics in general, in a country as large and disparate as this one.

    Jonathan:

    I don’t think the issue is centrism vs. extremism so much as it is perspective vs. emotional extremes. I see life getting generally better, with some problems. I think most people in the West, certainly in the USA, are like that. But the Internet is dominated by people who get bent out of shape about each problem and don’t see the forest for the trees. The Islamist attack is a big problem, but the only real question is whether enough of us will realize it’s a problem, not whether we have the capacity to deal with it. The economy is strong. Americans are healthy and wealthy. But if you write a blog post about how good things are nobody will read it.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if this election will eventually be seen as the first one in which the Internet changed politics fundamentally. Maybe after another election or two the specific pattern of the change will become more clear. We’re probably too close and involved now to see what’s going on. It isn’t obviously going to be a move to the Left. Maybe the kinds of people who will win elections in the future will be much different than the ones we are used to. Television changed politics fundamentally. There is no reason to think the Internet won’t do at least as much.