Friday, January 04, 2008

Ugh the Vote

OK five more minutes on the presidential races. I'm glad about Obama coming out on top, though I like Edwards better - he has less self-deluded economic policies.

Some folks - like Frank Rich - say the change candidates will win this year, and not the credential candidates. I would put it differently, thinking about what Obama and Huckabee, last night's two victors, have in common: they are less authoritarian than their main competitors (Clinton, Romney / Guiliani). That's the ongoing danger of the country's executive democracy, and voters will being going out of their way to dilute it.

Avery's recipe for how the Dims can win:
- don't run Hillary: most people think she's opportunistic - read politically unreliable, dishonest, and yes authoritarian. Run Hillary = elect a Republican
- do run Obama - as Vice President. He's young and green as well as Black. He will run for president again later and win.
- do run Edwards as President, picking up the south, liberal and left Dims and populists everywhere, not to mention white men as well as women.

Avery is right.

On Dec 31 I mentioned a piece by Tom Nairn on the Australian elections. Read it for interesting parallels to the US.
  • race politics is not a sideshow but a central issue, even if disguised. The old "Anglo-Celtic" Australia hasn't disappeared, it has "simply sat down." Sitting down for a decade or two, it has forgotten what to do.
  • a new "non-military humanitarianism" is needed among factions within the country, particularly with First Australians, but that will require a "frontal approach" to the issues that has been lacking.
  • what has been happening instead of facing up? "keeping the lid on things," and doing it through a mechanism familiar in the US: "a ‘realism’ wholly identified with competence and sound economic management."
This is a deep thought: neoliberal economics is a holding pattern, a placeholder, an ineffective substitute for actual social progress. It is a booby prize in a contest we have forgotten we were in.
  • the partner of this impractical (and often unjust) realism is "Motherland two-partyism": Harold Laski showed long ago that "any ins-and-outs system could work only by extensive agreement between the parties – a ‘de facto’ one-party national order where the common ground was all-important. Stability and continuity are sacred, while democratic change and initiative, with their associated risks, are dispensable."
  • Unfortunately, the need now is for something that requires huge initiative: "non-military humanitarianism has to base itself on equality, not paternalism."
This leads to one of this blog's favorite questions: after decades of attacking equality, how will English-speaking countries practice it?

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