I understand grassroots rage and even paranoia from the Tea Party movement but populism can be dangerous. It is the mob. As GFWill said in response to a comment that xyz was ”populism at its finest” in his aloof voice “populism at its finest is an oxymoron.” Now I differ with Will on a great many things but his elitism sometimes hits the target squarely. This is one of those times.
Having said that, the GOP needs the Tea Party people and the Tea Party people need the GOP. Will they see through their differences to diminish a common foe (my enemy’s enemy is my friend) or will they permit Voltaire’s caution and let the perfect be the enemy of the good?
I think it was Stalin who said, “Less good, but good enough.” Politics is not about one’s ideals. Its about the possible; pragmatism. That’s why most of us cannot stomach it. It requires too much compromise. However, in a nation of 300,000,000 people there are lots of competing ideas. Most of us will be disappointed. We need to be willing to accept good enough and not sacrifice it on the altar of the perfect. Our system works. Slowly. But it works.
The problem on the left is their willingness to disregard the democratic system and seek vindication from the courts because the system is too slow, too unpredictable and all they need is one sympathetic judge to continue pursuing their version of a perfect society so they can disregard the votes of millions. Why bet on chance when you can find a fighter willing to take a dive? Now, in no way to I mean that the judges are bribed. I mean that sympathetic judges are identifiable, sought out and reliable with regard to policy preferences and unwilling to disregard their personal preferences when they can help shape policy as they believe it should be… the antithesis of a democratic system. That’s activism defined. They castigate the right for what they perceive as parallel acts disregarding our system. But here’s the problem (other than the fact that they’re fucking wrong). Back to pragmatism and we’ll even toss in actual constitutional duty… the complaints levied against GW that he was abusing civil liberties amount to, in most common terms, a complaint that he was too ambitious in his efforts to keep Americans from being killed by terrorists. We have huge swaths of people who know so little of our vast and rich heritage. The left seeks rule by expert testimony to judges. They’re winning. Slowly.
We’re moving to government by the legislative and executive branches once they’ve received judicial approval. If the voters cannot understand the risks inherent to democracy when they cede so much authority to non elected officials (on the basis of Marbury which rests on dubious footing… judges who often shed their duty of impartiality in pursuit of what may well be an honest belief in seeking out the greater benefit to society) then we have some real problems. Thomas Jefferson, whom I am generally loathe to quote noted that the upshot of Marbury would be a despotism of an oligarchy.
full quote here
To consider the judges as the ultimate arbiters of all constitutional questions [is] a very dangerous doctrine indeed, and one which would place us under the despotism of an oligarchy. Our judges are as honest as other men and not more so. They have with others the same passions for party, for power, and the privilege of their corps. Their maxim is boni judicis est ampliare jurisdictionem [good justice is broad jurisdiction], and their power the more dangerous as they are in office for life and not responsible, as the other functionaries are, to the elective control. The Constitution has erected no such single tribunal, knowing that to whatever hands confided, with the corruptions of time and party, its members would become despots. It has more wisely made all the departments co-equal and co-sovereign within themselves.
—Thomas Jefferson to William C. Jarvis, 1820. ME 15:277