Arnold Kling  

The Party of No

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The Washington Post reports,


a new Washington Post poll also reveals deep dissatisfaction among GOP voters with the party's leadership as well as ideological and generational differences that may prove big obstacles to the party's plans for reclaiming power.

The way I read the poll, Republican voters say "no" to their own leadership and "double-no" to the Obama Administration. I would also count support for Sarah Palin as a "no" vote, at least with respect to insiders and elites.

Does this Party of No represent a threat or an opportunity? If you are a David Brooks trust-the-elite type, presumably it represents a threat. If you are a Lou Dobbs demagogue type, presumably it represents an opportunity.

I would call myself the highbrow version of the Party of No. I have a fear of the masses that would rival David Brooks'. But I have a fear of the elites that is even stronger. Book 2 explains why: among elites there is an even larger discrepancy between knowledge and power. The political elite has too much power relative to the dispersed knowledge in society.

The trick is to get both elites and masses to be less enchanted with elections and more committed to decentralization, or what I call competitive government. The Party of No feels some of the disenchantment. What I would like to see is a very large Party of No, influenced by folks who have read Book 2 on the virtues of decentralization and the mechanisms for moving in that direction.


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COMMENTS (9 to date)
Jeffrey writes:

"I would call myself the highbrow version of the Party of No. I have a fear of the masses that would rival David Brooks'. But I have a fear of the elites that is even stronger."

Just beautiful... so much is explained with that simple thought.

Thanks,

Jeff

tms writes:

Exactly! Thank you.

david writes:

Don't mistake a common position in opposition for a common position.

On another note, I note that your position has shifted from that which you seemed to hold in June. It's not just becoming much more optimistic about Palin's demographic support - which, I suppose, could change in the long run - but you've also apparently become more certain that SydB's outlook is wrong - that defocusing on elections doesn't lead to those who do seek power seizing the reins. When did you move beyond "You may be right. I hope not."?

Lord writes:

I thought the most significant feature was the desire more religion in politics. Sounds like a holy war to me.

Jim writes:

Book 2 just came in today from Amazon. Looks interesting!

SydB writes:

The guy in the trenches doesn't always have the information necessary to fight the war. That information resides at higher levels. It's a balance, and the above statements do not seem to take this into account. In addition, information technology changes the power/knowledge equation in ways not addressed here.


bgc writes:

Another way to look at competitive govt is that this may emerge when central command economies begin to collapse. What will be left standing are the governments-in-waiting.

If the government-in-waiting are nationalist parties, then that it what will emerge (eg post USSR collapse); if they are theocratic organizations (like the Mormon church in Utah, maybe - or the Roman Church after the fall or Rome) then likewise; or trades unions (? Poland); or whatever.

The chances that collapse would leave a libertarian organization standing in the ruins seems extremely small. Libertarians are not sufficiently organized. I don't think they ever will be.

Maybe intellectuals need to get real and support an organization with a realistic chance of survival?

Gasman writes:
The way I read the poll, Republican voters say "no" to their own leadership and "double-no" to the Obama Administration. I would also count support for Sarah Palin as a "no" vote, at least with respect to insiders and elites

Well considering that admitted republican voters are about 20% right now, this is not a very loud voice.

Should we be surprised that admitted republicans are more against a (D) president than their own leadership? I think your comment can best be replied to by.......................DUHHHHHHHHH!

George X writes:

Syd wrote:

The guy in the trenches doesn't always have the information necessary to fight the war. That information resides at higher levels.

The side whose "guy in the trenches" has more information will tend to win. Decentralization has substantial advantages.

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