Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Whiskey Bar: Playing for Keeps

Whiskey Bar: Playing for Keeps: Billmon considers the implications of Senate Republican willingness to do away with the filibuster.

"The unwritten rules exist because both political parties accept the possibility they may one day be in the minority, and thus have a vested interest in preserving rights or privileges they themselves may need to exercise.

But if one of the parties has no intention of ever losing again -- or at least, is willing to gamble on its ability to avoid ever losing again -- then it will no longer have an incentive to support minority rights, but will have every incentive to try to abolish them, if possible."

"But I overlooked another possibility, which is that the Republican elites are simply be following their own blind instincts for power -- and haven't given much thought to the future consequences, one way or the other.

"In other words, Frist and DeLay and the rest of the Rove gang may not have any kind of grand design for a GOP Thousand Year Reich, but rather may be acting like the Easter Islander I talked about in an earlier post -- the one who cut down the last remaining tree on the island."

Paranoia has a way of getting out of hand, just as cheerleading does. That's the dilemma in anticipating the Coming Perfect Storm.

On the one hand, how do you distinguish between predictably anticipating the disastrous consequences of bad policy and "wishing" for those consequences, because you anticipate partisan benefit (e.g., the Democrats winning in a landslide, because the American people wake up and realize that Iraq is a quagmire, and Bush is trying to steal their Social Security in order to shore up the fortunes of the super-mega-rich Mars and Mellon families).

On the other hand, how do you regulate your paranoia, when attributing even minimal competence to highly successful politicians suggest that they anticipate essentially overthrowing the democratic constitutional order?. DeLay really does talk of the "permanent" Republican majority, and works tirelessly for it (as in the gerrymandering of Texas). Bush really was elected in 2000 by the Supreme Court, and it is not clear to this day, that his victories in 2004 Ohio and Florida were entirely legitimate.

One potential trigger for a Perfect Storm in American politics would be solid evidence of vote count fraud in Ohio or Florida. I don't expect that to happen; given the innumeracy of the press corps and the American public, the kind of statistical "solid evidence" most likely to generated, no one would understand well enough to believe.

For the moment, I expect most Democrats will have trouble keeping themselves away from "wishing" ill to the country, but will continue to choose to regard the Republicans as fundamentally incompetent, despite Republican political success "because it's not nearly as scary as thinking the GOP high command actually does have a carefully conceived plan for total partisan domination -- of which breaking the filibuster is only the latest step."

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