Why Francis Fukuyama is Voting Obama

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

From the American Conservative:

I’m voting for Barack Obama this November for a very simple reason. It is hard to imagine a more disastrous presidency than that of George W. Bush. It was bad enough that he launched an unnecessary war and undermined the standing of the United States throughout the world in his first term. But in the waning days of his administration, he is presiding over a collapse of the American financial system and broader economy that will have consequences for years to come. As a general rule, democracies don’t work well if voters do not hold political parties accountable for failure. While John McCain is trying desperately to pretend that he never had anything to do with the Republican Party, I think it would a travesty to reward the Republicans for failure on such a grand scale.

Works for me.

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Present at the Creation: The Birth of a Niche Party

Saturday, October 18, 2008

I need more time to explore this idea (and I will after the election), but I want to post a brief summary in advance. The idea?

The GOP is being reborn, before our eyes, as a niche party.

As many have noted, there is a crackup coming. The Republican party is splintering and the grand Reagan coalition of social conservatives, fiscal conservatives, and foreign policy hawks is coming apart at the seams. The reasons for this all lie in the abject incompetence of the Bush administration.

  • The social conservatives have overreached with government meddling in people’s lives i.e. Terri Schiavo, no abortion even after rape and incest, etc.
  • The fiscal conservatives have seen government spending explode under Bush and our national debt double.
  • And the foreign policy hawks have seen their best intentions buried under the sands of Iraq.
  • What will be the result of this splintering?

    At first, niche status as the forces of Palinism continue to dominate the GOP. Eventually, a third party (at first of the mind, eventually, in practice) will splinter off.

    I don’t know who will retain the mantle of true Republican (they will both claim it) but the two parties will look like this:

  • One will be a white, working class, hard right, Christian, anti-intellectual party led by Sarah Palin.
  • The other will revert to classic conservatism in the Buckley mold governed by intellectuals and ideas. Not sure who will lead this one. Romney, perhaps?
  • The schism will be inflamed by the deep racial, nativist biases that have long lurked, sometimes at the surface, within the heart of the GOP. The practical result will be a long period out of power for this new, niche party.

    Now, this analysis assumes a win by Barack Obama. Obviously, we are in for a difficult time in the next four years. These difficulties will be compounded immeasurably by the unwillingness of a fairly large segment of Americans (the Palin party) to accept his presidency. Hatred and ugliness will dominate their politics. That said, an Obama win cannot be taken for granted, so this summary is a kind of “what-if” document to be fully explored after the election.

    But even if McCain somehow wins, the die is cast. This schism is breaking apart the Reagan coalition and will destroy the Republican party, casting it into permanent niche status. It is simply a matter of demographics and time. Once the split finally occurs, there may be a chance for an open, optimistic center-right conservatism to rise again.

    P.S. There is one man who could delay the unravelling. His name is David Petraeus (though I am not convinced that he wouldn’t run as a Democrat).


    It’s, Like, the Idiocracy, Stupid

    Monday, October 13, 2008

    Heather MacDonald, of my favorite conservative rag, City Journal, defends the GOP from the spread of Palinism. Some choice bits:

    I’m, like, man, I really don’t know if I’m ready for a vice president who goes: “My son’s, like: ‘Mom, I’m in the army now,’ and I’m, like: ‘I’m so proud.’” And who’s, like, “And [my son] goes, ‘O.K., well I’ll be praying.’ I’m like—total role reversal here, that’s what I’ve been telling him for 19 years.’” Or who goes, “This is a time when, man, politics have got to be put aside.” (As Alaska governor Sarah Palin told Sean Hannity, William Kristol, and Katie Couric.)…

    …the inability to answer a straightforward question about economic policy without becoming tangled in words suggests either ignorance about the subject matter or a difficulty connecting between ideas. Neither explanation is reassuring…

    …Still, the conservative position on the family happens to be the right one. So, too, was the erstwhile conservative defense of articulateness, knowledge, and uncommon achievement. It’s a shame to have sacrificed these ideas, even temporarily, in the quest for political advantage.

    Here’s my related take on the same phenomenon.


    McCain’s Republican Hysteria

    Monday, June 16, 2008

    What is it in the conservative soul that makes Republicans so panicky? Sure, 9/11 was scary and spectacular, and almost 3,000 people died. But by the time 2003 rolled around, many of us had put the event in perspective. It was a shockingly effective surprise terrorist attack – not an act of war. There was no state actor behind the plan, no military massing on our border, not even, it turned out, an inkling of an idea of a plan to build a weapon of mass destruction.

    What was needed after 9/11 was a cool, sober, and intelligent reaction to the circumstances. Instead, we got the Rumsfeld/Cheney plan for Iraq. Yes, they’d planned to whole thing in advance, but they were able to sell it because it played to our fears. Now you could see this as an utterly cynical ploy on their part, but I don’t believe that. I believe that they were really afraid too. In short, they were panicking. A natural enough reaction in the next couple of months after 9/11, but not by March of 2003.

    So what is it about conservatives that makes them so irrationally hysterical? Why do they see America destroying boogeymen in a loose confederation Muslim terrorists?

    Someone will say nukes, or some other kind of weapon of mass destruction. And this is a real fear. But it is also the kind of fear that should lead to an aggressive, well thought-out plan involving allies, the U.N., diplomacy, monitoring, international pressure, and covert (or overt) targeted military operations. Instead, we got Iraq. And attacking Iraq has done far more to create a threat than it has done to prevent one. Lots of people foresaw that that would happen (including Obama), but few of them were conservatives.

    No, I think Republicans acted the way they did because of something inherent to conservatism: fear of the unknown, fear of the future. Conservatives favor tradition and seek to uphold the virtues of what they consider to be a better past. Faced with the unknown after 9/11, rather than take stock of the situation and their fears, they came out guns blazing. The result? The intractable quagmire of Iraq.

    So what does this have to do with McCain? Well, the guy is an exemplar of the type. A fearful, shoot-first, hot-head who can hardly be expected to face an unknown future with a sense of composure and decisive restraint. He will attack the flies immediately and he’ll do it with a hammer.

    But hammers don’t work against flies (they never do). What we need is a fly-swatter.

    Barack Obama will bring a fly-swatter for the terrorist flies.


    Is Bush Irrelevant? Hmm, Let’s See…

    Saturday, May 31, 2008

    Old school conservative Pat Buchanan concludes that, yes, Bush is irrelevant. He had to ask?

    A man with a 28% approval rating, defecting inner circle, foreign policy failures at every turn, and an economic apocalypse unfolding in slow motion? He is only relevant in that we must hope that he won’t do any more damage. From Buchanan:

    “When loyalists defect and seek to profit from that defection, it is usually a sign of a failing presidency. And, indeed, events suggest that history is passing Bush by.”

    “America remains the first economic and military power on earth. But after seven years of Bush, we no longer inspire the awe or hopes we once did. We are no longer the world hegemonic power of the neocons’ depiction.”

    “Of Bush, it may be said he was a far better politician and candidate than his father, but as a statesman and world leader, he could not carry the old man’s loafers.”

    Kind of makes you miss the days when Buckley and Buchanan rode tall in the saddle.