Thursday, March 30, 2017


Political Mayhem Thursday: CTL's good point

Sometimes (especially on this blog) the comments are better than the post. I think that was true earlier this week, in fact. I posted something about "1984" and the current political system, and CTL responded with this very intriguing comment:

Trump was elected, in part, because lots of folks thought President Obama had already installed Orwell's dystopia. I don't think he did, of course, but following the rubric you laid out, President Obama lead a much more effective Inner/Outer party construct. On the one hand, the vast government bureaucracy is largely sympathetic to progressive and expansive policies, and implemented the Obama agenda faithfully. And on the other, President Obama was no beacon of truth. He regularly manipulated and misrepresented facts to serve his own interests--"all politicians lie," as they say. The media were sometimes complicit in this, and often too cozy with the Administration to be (or to appear) objective. So, for many conservatives, 1984 came to fruition in 2008, not 2016.

None of which excuses Trump from his toxic, disqualifying character flaws. But being an erratic, inveterate liar with no particular morals does not make Trump an Orwellian autocrat. Leadership in 1984's Oceania required a litany of evil but refined skills. Trump is dangerous--largely due to his bull-in-a-china-shop approach to policy and apparent manipulability--but don't give him too much credit.

I think CTL is right in observing that the government bureaucracy "is largely sympathetic to progressive and expansive policies." In part, that is out of self-interest, of course-- if you work for the government, then expanding the role of government gives you job security and space for advancement.  That the bureaucracy is largely hostile to much of what Trump wants to do is going to make it hard for him to implement those parts of his agenda that go beyond simply cutting programs so that they no longer exist.  

As I have said before, I did admire the Obama administration's willingness to listen to divergent views. It was almost exactly a year ago that I gave my rant at the White House, and yet I got invited back to subsequent events despite my consistent criticism of Obama's policies. 

But CTL's point makes me wonder... would that have been true if I was affiliated with a right-wing advocacy organization rather than a University? Was the fact that I networked through groups on the left part of the reason I was able to be heard, even as what I had to say was critical? Perhaps it was. 

Trump could better implement policies through the bureaucracies CTL describes if those policies had some progressive components. He has talked about those things (health insurance for all, infrastructure improvements) but has not moved toward implementing them. So far, though, it seems like he is moving in another direction-- towards cutting away at the existence of those bureaucracies, a choice that is supported by a different set of principles, and in the end might be just as successful at his apparent long-term goal of  somehow influencing the trajectory of what government does and is. 

Obama's policy initiatives were directed in a rather systematic way toward the goals set forth in Matthew 25, helping those in need to improve their lives, as well as preserving our environment for sustainability of life on earth. That includes the ACA, the anti-carbon initiatives, etc.

Trump's policy initiatives seem directed toward freeing the powerful and wealthy to make more, regardless of harm to the poor and the environment, in the hope that in doing so, that, over the long term, the lot of the poor will be improved as the wealthy have more to share (without any evidence that they will do so).

That is why the proposed replacement of the ACA with the AHCA appeared to result in many poor and marginal people, including the disabled, would lose access to health care, while cutting taxes on the wealthy and corporations.
@Professor: Thanks for the shout out! To your question, I don't think anyone at the Heritage Foundation or the American Enterprise Institute got much traction with the last administration. And I doubt your conservative colleagues in the Academy fared much better. The ACA, for example, was crafted without input from right-leaning economists and healthcare experts, regardless of their patron institution. All of which is just business as usual in Washington; and as much an indictment against our politics in general as the Obama administration in particular. This is probably also a factor in why we try to resolve every public debate at the Supreme Court...*

I suspect your dissent was allowed (welcomed?) in part because you disagreed only with certain of the administration's policy decisions, not the President's entire political philosophy (or, at least, I assume you did not). Nor was your disagreement couched in overt conservatism. But don't take my word for it! You very admirably present your ideas to all comers. The next time you talk with Heritage or FedSoc, ask them how often they were invited to the Obama WH, and challenge them to describe what they learn from dialogue with their progressive counterparts.

*Just an aside--what's Trump doing appointing some Protestant slouch from fly-over country to the Supreme Court? He will upset the Jewish/Catholic and Coastal duopolies! (What's that you say? He was raised Catholic? He spent his formative years and early career in DC? He went to Harvard and Oxford? Okay, I'll allow it...)
Judge Gorsuch was actually our judge when we did the Trial of Jesus in Boulder, and I was very impressed with him.

As for ignoring the land between the coasts, don't get me started... though I did get to say my piece here:

Nice article! #BRM

I've never met Judge Gorsuch, but I know people like you who have and the acclaim is universal. Although his willingness to endure the confirmation process raises questions closeted masochistic tendencies...questions the senior senator from New York will no doubt expostulate in his next press conference.
I went for my yearly physical that is supposed to be free…preventive medicine, how civilized. I turn around and a bunch of tests are ordered with the flick of a pen. No big deal, routine diagnostics, part of preventive care, I hope. Turns out American Healthcare is where hope gets tested; a bill for every single test room in which you took a breath and another bill from someone interpreting why you took a breath in that room. Turns out I have a mild heart condition, but quite frankly I think it stems from reading my health insurance “claims and accounts” section. The prices vehiculated by the providers are beyond offensive, they are heart palpitations, near apoplectic inducing. I think the fundamental flaw of ACA lies with allowing healthcare providers, device manufacturers, pharmaceutical companies and healthcare corporations to overcharge with great abandon the American users. Congress has enacted legislation giving pretty much a monopoly position in their so called marketplaces and implicit freedom from competition in setting their prices…remember the EpiPen outrage?! The same is true for knee replacement implants, heart valves and virtually every other product and service provided to the American healthcare system. In the end it’s all about the PE ratio for Wall Street investors. That being said, I doubt this Congress will regulate the profit taking afforded the healthcare industry and I doubt it will help millions of people from being trapped in poverty if they are only so unlucky to become sick.
It looks more like making America great again may die of black lung. Not to mention that draining the swamp looks more like poisoning the groundwater.

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