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August 01, 2005

Wave to Ideology

Angelica asks:

Why do libertarians and other free-trade cheerleaders feel the need to give CAFTA their (infinitely reluctant) backing when it is nothing more than a trojan horse bearing monopoly-extending intellectual property rules ignominiously rushed pass a dracula session in congress by bribing reluctant congressmen with porktastic protectionist measures that favor their home states?

I wish someone would write a book on the total abdication of ideological responsibility on all sides of the spectrum. Welcome to 2005, politics is tone, partisanship is volume, extremism is aggressiveness. 2004's liberal hero was an ardent free trader who blocked gay marriage in his home state, wanted to add 40,000 troops to Iraq, had little patience for liberal social programs when they blew the deficit, who rejected public financing in Vermont, and had been a DLC golden child only years before. But Howard Dean stood up, spoke out, and became the great hope for progressives, the feared demon of the DLC, and an electorally active Michael Moore to Republicans.

Meanwhile, the most conservative president in memory is busting the budget, passing Medicare expansions, increasing federal control over the nation's school districts, justifying foreign interventions on humanitarian grounds, slapping tariffs on steel, and pushing legislation promising "Clean Air" and "Healthy Forests". Ideology, I fear, is over. We all just want to win. Bush will sell out every principle in the camp, his extremism, or what we perceive as his extremism, is the simple conclusion of a Rove-created equation that says the base will provide more ballots than the center.

Republicans have a wasted ideology they know the public rejects (remember Gingrich's attack on Medicare? Sure you do) and so they hide it in progressive language, sometimes failing at that and pushing progressive legislation in a desperate bid to attract a new constituency or weaken one of ours. And Democrats, having taken 30 electoral lashes, tried to unite behind the guy likeliest to take the whip to the Republicans. We made the wrong decision, but I've little doubt we've kept the same motivation. So Angelica wants to know why CAFTA passes with Republicans? For the same reason Medicare and NCLB squeezes through DeLay's caucus and Dean grabs the progressive vote -- because it's about winning and standing up to the other guy. For Republicans, when Democrats oppose legislation, they need to pass it -- the fight, not the bill, takes primacy. And for Democrats, the willingness to take the fight across the aisle is paramount, ideology can wait.

August 1, 2005 in Electoral Politics | Permalink

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Comments

I'm not wondering why republicans supported CAFTA, that much is obvious. I'm wondering why libertarians like Tyler Cowen are giving them ideological cover. I like to think of libertarians as a seperate force apart from the left-right spectrum, and I think that's how they like to think of themselves, so why are they carry water over a terrible bill like CAFTA?

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