Even Conservatives Occupy

Andrew Sullivan perhaps over-interprets a single poll, or perhaps is sniffing out a new wind: 

This is wide open. And Romney is eminently beatable. Among the under-20s Gingrich is beating Romney by 31 percent to 10 percent. Among those between 30 and 44, Santorum and Paul are vying for first place.

If Sullivan can make this much of one poll showing Romney dropping and Gingrich closing since New Hampshire, I don’t see why I can’t look at the Real Clear Politics parti-colored spaghetti of spaghettinis poll of polls and think about the state, not the state of South Carolina, but the whole state, the nation- and culture-state.  Even partisan primaries must eventually, if only intermittently, if only for a moment, re-capitulate the state as a whole.  Even the remarkably right-ideological 2012 Republican presidential primaries are, in the end, a competition oriented toward selecting the eventual chief of the whole American state and government, our quadrennially resurrected monarch whose name and particular aims may change, but whose roles and functions within the state system do not change until and unless the destruction and replacement of the system come into view.  What this fact above all lesser presidential facts means practically, on the ground at just around this time, is that even reactionary conservative moon-baying clown-car morons, loons, empty suits, megalomaniacs, and sales-androids, and the sets of voters just like them or even less impressively gifted or responsible, must take on, reflect, and re-produce the idea of the whole state.  Even driven all the way to the furthest right on the spectrum, the resultant discourse re-produces its own “right” and its own “left,” its own self-extension and its own negation, its own consolidating and disintegrating tendencies, and the further right the discourse moves, the greater freedom of movement to the left, the stronger the pull of the resultant vacuum – and there is great vacuum in this Republican race indeed – and then suddenly Newt Gingrich and Rick Perry are Occupiers railing against vulture capitalism.  The moment cannot last, but it will endlessly recur.  Even if a shift of economics and luck gives one of these men an overwhelming electoral victory and Tea Party-Republican control of both houses of Congress, and God Himself the Irrefutable manifests to bless the Inaugural, the moment will recur, which is also why a president who sought to govern as pure partisan, set himself all on one side of the American governing dialectic, would need first and foremost to be prepared for a human tidal wave in the opposite direction of his agenda.


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2 comments on “Even Conservatives Occupy

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  1. Well that’s one interpretation, the other is Romney is not terribly popular among the petit bourgeois, they find him quite
    ‘inauthentic’ on a whole host of issues,

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TV pundits and op-ed writers of every major newspaper epitomize how the Democratic establishment has already reached a consensus: the 2020 nominee must be a centrist, a Joe Biden, Cory Booker or Kamala Harris–type, preferably. They say that Joe Biden should "run because [his] populist image fits the Democrats’ most successful political strategy of the past generation" (David Leonhardt, New York Times), and though Biden "would be far from an ideal president," he "looks most like the person who could beat Trump" (David Ignatius, Washington Post). Likewise, the same elite pundit class is working overtime to torpedo left-Democratic candidates like Sanders.

For someone who was not acquainted with Piketty's paper, the argument for a centrist Democrat might sound compelling. If the country has tilted to the right, should we elect a candidate closer to the middle than the fringe? If the electorate resembles a left-to-right line, and each voter has a bracketed range of acceptability in which they vote, this would make perfect sense. The only problem is that it doesn't work like that, as Piketty shows.

The reason is that nominating centrist Democrats who don't speak to class issues will result in a great swathe of voters simply not voting. Conversely, right-wing candidates who speak to class issues, but who do so by harnessing a false consciousness — i.e. blaming immigrants and minorities for capitalism's ills, rather than capitalists — will win those same voters who would have voted for a more class-conscious left candidate. Piketty calls this a "bifurcated" voting situation, meaning many voters will connect either with far-right xenophobic nationalists or left-egalitarian internationalists, but perhaps nothing in-between.

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Understanding Trump’s charisma offers important clues to understanding the problems that the Democrats need to address. Most important, the Democratic candidate must convey a sense that he or she will fulfil the promise of 2008: not piecemeal reform but a genuine, full-scale change in America’s way of thinking. It’s also crucial to recognise that, like Britain, America is at a turning point and must go in one direction or another. Finally, the candidate must speak to Americans’ sense of self-respect linked to social justice and inclusion. While Weber’s analysis of charisma arose from the German situation, it has special relevance to the United States of America, the first mass democracy, whose Constitution invented the institution of the presidency as a recognition of the indispensable role that unique individuals play in history.

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[E]ven Fox didn’t tout Bartiromo’s big scoops on Trump’s legislative agenda, because 10 months into the Trump presidency, nobody is so foolish as to believe that him saying, “We’re doing a big infrastructure bill,” means that the Trump administration is, in fact, doing a big infrastructure bill. The president just mouths off at turns ignorantly and dishonestly, and nobody pays much attention to it unless he says something unusually inflammatory.On some level, it’s a little bit funny. On another level, Puerto Rico is still languishing in the dark without power (and in many cases without safe drinking water) with no end in sight. Trump is less popular at this point in his administration than any previous president despite a generally benign economic climate, and shows no sign of changing course. Perhaps it will all work out for the best, and someday we’ll look back and chuckle about the time when we had a president who didn’t know anything about anything that was happening and could never be counted on to make coherent, factual statements on any subject. But traditionally, we haven’t elected presidents like that — for what have always seemed like pretty good reasons — and the risks of compounding disaster are still very much out there.

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