Friday, March 29, 2013

Elsewhere: Teens Vote, More

New column up at the Prospect today supporting teen voting. Regular readers know that I've been on this for a while -- this one is primarily about just dropping the voting age a couple years.

Speaking of old themes, I hit Mitch McConnell and the GOP for exec branch nominations obstruction over at PP today.

Wednesday at PP I said that tax reform is the new repeal-and-replace, and made an actual prediction that there won't be a tax reform bill this year (or at least a scoreable, revenue-neutral one).

And then yesterday it was the House Republicans, in one amazing quote.


  1. I agree that this current crop of freshman and sophomore Republican representatives is not interested in governing, at least not if it involves effort, learning new facts or rules, or negotiating.

    However, that's what they campaigned on!

  2. Jonathan,
    Going off your links here and on Twitter from today, I'd like to question whether it's really correct to say that what the GOP has become is "post-policy" and uninterested in governing. I don't think that's quite right. What they are, more precisely, is uninterested in *openly campaigning on and publicly defending* specific policy proposals. But if or once they obtain sufficient political power or are able to maneuver political negotiations in such a way, they (at the very least their legislative leaders) are *very much* interested in achieving legislative goals. That hasn't changed. They remain a "policy" party, just like any other party.

    GOP leaders would marshall through certain forms of financial deregulation, they'd cut funding or impair the functioning of publicly functioning health-care insurance, they'd have very particular notions about what types of means-testing and indexation are appropriate to government programs, they'd want to direct public funds to certain military contractors. That's just off the top of my head. Point is, they have plenty of sotto voce plans (articulated in only narrowly seen settings and publications) that they'd seize the moment to pass as authentic policy measures. I think we delude ourselves by saying the GOP is "post-policy," defanging the party as incompetent when many of its leaders are simply shrewd about what they should publicly campaign on in detail.

    As a sub-point, I'd also say that while the symbolic/cultural issues are very often a distraction and a sign of cultural-panic worldviews, they're not totally illusory. To the extent that the GOP's substantive policy commitments deny government support and cultural recognition to groups that the GOP considers less than fully American and deserving of full democratic/egalitarian approval, they are quite rationally seeking to hold onto their cultural and material power against groups they hold in contempt. Every time they campaign on these symbolic issues, they're re-asserting their cultural identity and beliefs in the public sphere in a way that may ultimately be impotent, but which isn't a misunderstanding entirely of how cultural norms and intimidation do actually work alongside a narrow domain of "policy."

    These are some late-night thoughts which may not be sufficiently clear, but I'd be interested eventually to hear what you think.

    1. It's an interesting question...I guess, for a very quick response, what I'd say is that they have positions, but no interest in policy.

      After all, there really isn't a GOP Medicare plan. Ryan has a vague outline, but that's all. And they don't seem interested in filling it in. If they suddenly had the ability to vote in whatever they wanted, they might come up with something, but it might well be half-assed.


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