Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Yes, Of Course It's OK to Speculate About Syria and 2016.

This again? I'm hearing all sorts of complaints about people speculating about how the Syria matter will affect the 2016 elections.

If we're talking general election -- I'm with you. Pending an enormous policy disaster, and perhaps even if there is one, the outcome in Syria will likely have zero effect on the November 2016 election.

But if we're talking nominations? As long as you agree on two things:

1. The 2016 presidential nomination contests began some time ago and are underway right now; and,

2. The outcome of the 2016 nomination contests is important

...then of course it's reasonable to be talking about possible effects of the Syria thing on 2016.

Granted, some of that speculation will be foolish. Lots of punditry is foolish! But there's zero reason the topic should be off limits.

To the contrary: if you think the possibility of US intervention in Syria is an important one, then you absolutely should want to think about (and perhaps to attempt to affect) how the issue will play out within the two parties as a part of their presidential nomination processes.

I get that some people wish that there was a break from electoral politics. Sorry, it doesn't work that way. Not just in the US -- once again, parliamentary countries pick their party leaders far, far, in advance of the next election, and those selections are always open to further challenge, which means that they too have continuous party leadership competition, even though it takes a very different from. Parties do this for the very good reason that nominations determine who and what a party is, and in democratic parties that question is basically always going to be an open one.

To put it another way: speculating about 2016 (presidential nominations) is just another way of asking about a party's position on an issue, and perhaps in a deeper way than tallying votes in Congress might do. So if it annoys you, get over it.


  1. It's impossible to even make sense of some political alignments on Syria except in the context of Presidential Primary Politics. Santorum, for example, has historically been one of the strongest supporters of our muscular anti-Iran/Syria policy. Yet he's opposed to a military strike on Assad, presumably because it's just too controversial a policy for someone who aspires to the Presidency, especially with Rand Paul as a serious primary candidate. The same goes for Rubio and even Ted Cruz.

  2. Thanks for continuing to hammer away at this point. It seems to me it applies not only to parties choosing leaders, but to politics more generally.

    There are multiple schools of thought---romantic, technocratic, idealistic, authoritarian---that would prefer that *politics* not exist...or at least, not get in the way of what they perceive as "more important matters".

    They all miss the point that "politics" is inherent to human nature and to human societies. It's part of what makes us human. It's part of how we (can) become more human and humane in our treatment of each other. To remove "politics" from the equation (whatever the equation is) is to remove the human element from the equation.


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