Tuesday, November 01, 2016

The Authoritarian Instinct

How to suppress political participation.

I used to support disclosure of financial contributor identity. But I never imagined such disclosures would be weaponized. Now I support the right to be anonymous for self protection.

I guess I'd make a lousy Democratic apparatchik.

Oh, and add in a media that doesn't much care to target Democrats for their actions and you complete the picture.

Yes, I know. This intimidation stuff makes the news. But notice that when Republican do something wrong, the headline is "Republicans Do X," and the story is about what was done. But when Democrats do something wrong the headline is "Republicans Exploit Accusations Against Democrats," with the wrong X buried somewhere in the story.

This attempt to suppress dissent from liberal orthodoxy makes sense when you consider that a prominent Democratic thought leader like NYT writer Thomas Friedman (who loves "reasonably enlightened" despots) can wish for America to be "China for a day" to make reasonably enlightened decisions on policies Friedman likes (policies that can't be repealed after democracy kicks back in, making that one day a Bill Murray Groundhog Day after that, I guess).

Heck, the Friedman China Solution isn't even enough for China's top leader, who wants even more power:

On every television channel, on the front page of every newspaper, Chinese President Xi Jinping, in addition to his many other impressive titles, is now officially referred to as "the core of the Chinese Communist party."

I guess the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party as a whole hasn't been reasonably enlightened enough. Oh yes, Xi has taken Friedman's advice:

When you are "the core" of the Communist Party, you aren't just another leader -- your will is now law.

"The whole ting about being 'the core' is that you can get policies done," David Zweig, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology professor, told CNN.

Some are more equal than others, comrade. Let's see if the designated Reasonably Enlightened One Xi uses this new power to strengthen recycling regulations, eh?

And I'll say it again, the main reason our political discourse so nasty these days is that government has become so powerful that the stakes for winning or losing control of the government have made it more important to win. Oddly enough, people respond to incentives.

So efforts to limit money or whatever to keep politics clean are futile as the political lawyers find ways around the laws (see for example, the Clinton Foundation).

If we want to reduce the polarizing partisanship at the national level that has become all too frighteningly normal in our country, we need to reduce the breadth and depth of federal government control over our lives and economy.