Sausage Comes from Somewhere

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Jonah Goldberg draws several interesting comparisons between Barack Obama and Ted Cruz, perhaps the most interesting one being his last:

If Cruz's effort fails -- and I fear it will -- it will be for the same reasons that Obama's second term has been such a legislative dud. The way you bring change to Washington is through elections. After the elections, change comes from the unsightly process of consensus-building (aka sausage-making). Both Cruz and Obama have shown little interest in that approach.
Goldberg had earlier made the point that both men see voter consensus (vis-à-vis consensus among politicians) as key to political change, and one of his points is that such consensus isn't enough to effect political change in Washington. Goldberg raises an interesting point with which I am inclined to agree: I think election results do define, in crude terms, how much change might be possible over the next few years.

That said, the piece leaves me a little bit dissatisfied. I think Goldberg could have made a distinction that he didn't make: between intellectual movements and voters organizing for a specific purpose. The "communities" organized by Barack Obama are full of collectivists who made up their minds long ago that the government should be running everything. Cruz's Tea party is more of a mixed bag of people who oppose the results of collectivism, but not in an intellectually consistent manner. And the American public currently, in terms of political philosophy, is indifferent/vaguely in favor of the government taking care of things. Intellectually, the cards are stacked in favor of Obama: Whatever kind of "sausage-making" is tolerated will reflect that. I think Obama knows this and Cruz either doesn't, or he overestimates how pro-individual rights Americans currently are. It may well be that neither man appreciates sausage making, and that thwarts each to a degree, but that makes cultural change no less important in achieving political change. Given America's current cultural climate, Barack Obama can better afford to be a lousy sausage maker.

The real lesson to be drawn from Cruz's overreach isn't just that he needs to hone his political skills: It's that he needs to understand where the culture is right now and how to change where it is for the better.

-- CAV


9-27-13: Corrected a misspelling. 


Vigilis said...

Gus, while it may be true that Sen. Cruz and President Obama avoid "sausage-making", I am certain each feels he certain of where "the culture is right now and how to change where it is for the better."

Unsurprisingly, however, neither is any more correct than this guy:

"Forbes contributor Harry Binswanger, who is a disciple of the writer Ayn Rand, argued this week that people who make $1+ million a year are so valuable to society that they shouldn't pay any taxes."

Will a real leader stand up eventually? Looks to me like only shrewd, spineless lawyers will presume national leadership from this point forward. No one hopes to be more in error on that point than myself.

Gus Van Horn said...

Starting with the following quote, the author of that piece shows that, at best, he does not really understand Binswanger's point:

"So to suggest that entrepreneurs and investors deserve all the credit or compensation in the economy is absurd."

All? They pay their employees. Their employees are perfectly capable of saving, investing, or becoming inventors/entrepreneuers themselves. Even the "as little as possible" the author seizes on becomes generous when one realizes that in a free economy, being too stingy causes one to fail in the competition for the talent necessary to run a successful enterprise.

Being short-sighted does not serve one's self-interest, and should not be called "selfish".

Steve D said...

Personally, I think that anyone who makes one dollar or more per year is too valuable to have to pay taxes and I would round up all salaries to the nearest dollar :)

I think Cruz knows all about the culture and that his filibuster is doomed for failure and in fact I think that’s exactly why he is doing it; to draw attention to his cause and get a chance to speak directly to the American people. He also knows it will be a disaster and so that when that comes to pass, he can point back to his filibuster and say ‘See, I told you so.” It also may be why he has quoted Ayn Rand several times during the filibuster (hoping people will hear the quotes and start reading and thinking…)

It’s a reasonable short term political strategy which of course won’t change anything in the long term – that will take making real inroads into our deep-seated culture of altruism and that will take time and more than just one person.

Gus Van Horn said...

I hope you're right about Cruz, Steve.

Steve D said...

So do I, at least about the effect he might have.

But sometimes hope can lead you to see things that aren't there. Time will tell.