Why Political Alternatives in 2012 Don’t Exist

We’ve been talking to alienated political professionals lately. They’re either no longer welcome by their hyper-meme-soaked bases or alienated by them. Either way, they’re largely watching the football game from the stands. Their more practical (cynical?) colleagues join a team and bury their cognitive dissonance.

Politicians Must Stop Hiding Behind Process And Practice Politics

Why do marginalized political figures in the stands choose to sit there? The obvious excuse? Contemporary politics makes rational, empirical choice impossible. It’s true. But outcome determinative. A politician’s task is to change circumstances as much as adapt to them.

Goldwater, Republican, Ike

Alienated ‘moderate’ political figures and operatives, like Obama, elect to abandon actual politics. Thus no organized political activity to reclaim the Republican Party from the Movement. (Obama as incumbent has his party in a bind). Instead, the alienated political figures embrace the pose of process reform. Easier to appear on Morning Joe and blame congressional failure on needed rule changes or deficit reduction. Reasonable people like Mika after all prefer process. And process leads to the Avalon of compromise.

It’s sophistry, of course. And a convenient posture to be a victim. It’s also the perfect political analog for the intellectually bankrupt TED environment which peddles meaningless sloganeering and Newt-isms as knowledge. Unconnected factoids strung together to sound ‘wise’ in 140 characters.

What would actual politics look like? Let’s stipulate the Movement various strands’ are virulent, vindictive and irrational. Taking them on a daunting personal and professional challenge. Yet it’s not excuse. It’s been done successfully before. And we don’t mean post-1964.

American History Shows How Intellectual Movements Gain Influence

Before the Scopes trial, before The Organization Man, there was the Brandeis Brief. That Brief, which introduced science and empiricism into American law, itself rode the crest of a societal immersion in the scientific method, and Taylorism in manufacturing from the 1880s and 1890s. The sociology for how empirical thought gained widespread embrace is rich and detailed.

The Movement’s multiple successes infiltrating the Republican Party, mainstreaming itself and eventually devouring its institutional host yet another instructive model. Whether empiricism’s rise post-Civil War or the Movement today, neither advanced their cause by claiming process as the answer. Process served the political truth. To argue otherwise is to be another Wilkerson claiming if only the NSC had better paper flow he and General Jello could have beaten Cheney.

Could the current band of sidelined ‘moderate’ politicians and operatives carry a renewed empirical torch through a meme-drenched world? As the current process pose suggests, their political skills may be out of phase. Second, oligarchy collectively may prefer to withhold money, gaming further unravelling until a future, rump stabilization. Recent unsuccessful primary candidates do point to their failures as proof no one wants the message.

Yet it’s a duty to at least try. American history shows political movements culminate after decades of investment. It’s more than 1 or 2 election cycles. Or individual personalities.

To remain on the Acela to MSNBC, sigh, and lament the lack of procedural reform is cowardice.


  1. Dr Leo Strauss says

    Amazing that we’re here in 2012 alarmed at the same circumstances when we first met. It’s a slow motion car accident. The Lofgren quote resonates completely. His voice by definition will be heard only by those who already agree. No one is fighting to reclaim the Republican Party from within, unfortunately.

    Anxious, great line “The people cannot be roused from their vague despair by any politician in our system, really. It’s too depressing.” The ‘pure’ politics you mention seem so far away.

  2. Sam Lowry says

    Hate to come across as a Mike Lofgren fanboy or some such, but this interview with Truth Out is really good. I’m looking forward to finding a copy of The Party’s Over, if for no other reason than to come across observations such as this:

    There is a psychological component in American behavior that requires an Erich Fromm or a Wilhelm Reich to explain it. I am certainly not professionally competent to discuss it in detail. But I did notice that the twin shocks of the last decade – 9/11 and the 2008 financial collapse – caused a significant segment of the American people to collectively lose their minds. The year and a half between 9/11 and the invasion of Iraq was a period that can only be described as mass war psychosis. I have attempted to describe it in greater detail in my book, and what it felt like to work in Congress amid the hysteria. And there are no doubt significant numbers of Americans who ascribe the greatest financial meltdown since the Great Depression to the Community Reinvestment Act (of 1977!), or ACORN, or Saul Alinsky, or whatever bogeyman the program directors of Fox News decide is the world’s greatest threat to humanity. -Mike Lofgren

  3. anxiousmodernman says

    The people cannot be roused from their vague despair by any politician in our system, really. It’s too depressing.

    A ‘pure’ politics today needs to be preceded by big holes being blown in the oversized walls of secrecy our government erects, and accompanied by real consequences for the crooks who again and again squeeze the populace, hoard all the resources, and can never seem to take a loss on any of their investments.

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