Billmon on the POTUS Race

Billmon, who used to run the fine blog Whiskey Bar, lives on in Twitter. Here's his eight-tweet analysis of the US prez race:

GOP base moving left on econ issues; Dem establishment badly wants to keep moving right to capture up-scale GOP "moderates."

1) In the old days, this wouldn't have been a problem — parties weren't so ideological in the first place:

2) But that was before the "big sort" of '80s & '90s, which pushed both parties towards ideological polarization.

3) But while the "big sort" grouped like-minded partisans — largely on cultural values — it also introduced deep class contradictions.

4) In economic good times (90s, mid 00s), class contradictions not unmanageable, party elites drive partisan agendas.

5) But economic stress, growing backlash against globalization produces fresh ideological strains the existing partisan divide can't handle.

6) Both duopoly parties seek ways to contain these fresh divisions in their own ranks, while trying to exploit them in the other party's.

7) But in the process they only heighten their internal class contradictions & introduce fresh incoherence in a system that is unraveling.

2 thoughts on “Billmon on the POTUS Race

  1. “GOP base moving left on econ issues; Dem establishment badly wants to keep moving right to capture up-scale GOP “moderates.”

    There is *something* to this, but I still don’t think it’s the case that the parties are anywhere close to significantly overlapping. The GOP moving to the left simply means that they are rejecting Koch-Bros.-style ideological opposition to things like Social Security (specifically) or even the idea of *something like* Obamacare. The GOP’s base opposition to SS privatization has been well known at least since GWB’s complete privatization failure in the middle of his administration. I would characterize this as more of a rejection of the far-right extremism of the party elite than any sort of actual move to the left.

    I’m not sure about the D’s moving to the right, either – D politicians are spread across the ideological spectrum in a way that R politicians are not (there are, what, 2 moderate R’s in congress?) – so it’s hard to detect any sort of overall movement. Is the party moving further to the right than when it supported welfare-to-work during the Clinton administration? I really don’t think so.


  2. I’d say that Bernie aside, the Dems have clearly moved to the right since they won back the House in 2006 by fielding conservative Democrats. It’s probably a sign that two of the original Democratic POTUS contenders (Lincoln Chafee and Jim Webb) were former Republicans, and another one (Clinton) was a Goldwater girl in her younger days. Some other moderate Republicans like Arlen Specter also switched during the Dubya years, even Colin Powell endorsed Obama. A moderate Republican like Olympia Snowe or Michael Bloomberg probably would not have the slightest chance of making it through the GOP primaries, so they actually might have a better shot at trying their luck with the Democrats.

    But I also don’t see the GOP moving to the left economically, especially not since the rise of the Tea Party. Marco Rubio would have been on par with Bush or even to the right of him back in 2000, but compared to Cruz, Carson et al he almost comes across like a centrist.


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