Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Political showdowns

I'm about a week late to the party, but I was just catching up on some reading at The Decembrist. I think he's managed to describe, almost on the button, the sort of political engagement that the hard-edged right has been trying has been craving, and the pitfalls thereof. Yes, you're seeing it now over Miers, but you could also feel the palpable disappointment a few months ago when seven Republican senators did the senatorial thing and compromised with seven Democrats to avoid yet another ultimate showdown (a.k.a. the nuclear option).

I only have a few humble thoughts to add to about this fanciful "ultimate showdown" rhetoric:

  1. This presidency and a lot of the energy behind it has been about the consolidation of power, and not so much about conservatism, neo- or otherwise. I would tend to say that conservatism has been the tool, but power (for its own sake) is the project.
  2. Rove & DeLay's much-noted political machinations have basically been an attempt to establish a virtual national political machine, to sit at the top of our more typical regional political machines. Machines tend not so much to be about a particular ideology, but more about establishing the pecking order for controlling access to power and its resulting spoils.
  3. Almost every person with political power the world over claims to be (little-d) democratic....Remember the German Democratic Republic? To follow my previous metaphor, elections are a tool of democracy, but the project is the continuous, stable transfer of power. The U.S. remains a real democracy, even if it limps along in an injured state from time to time. The act of hubris that undermines almost every power-drunk politician is the failure to recognize that political realignments can and will eventually happen. When things get rough, some of your former supporters will bolt. Some people just want to be with a winner.

Barring a willingness to trigger a holocaust, the final showdown is never final.


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