The Other McCain

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Walter Russell Mead Talks Around The Decay Of Political Parties

Posted on | October 31, 2011 | 2 Comments

by Smitty

Mead is always interesting, but apparently he hasn’t read Army of Davids. He sees the decay of our two Ruling Class parties

American political parties are increasingly being reduced to flags of convenience; party organizations and party institutions have little influence over events. That didn’t use to be true. Party leaders and officials once exercised significant power over the choice of nominees, over the careers of aspiring pols, and over patronage. These days, outside Chicago and a handful of other places, we no longer think of party “bosses”.

but nowhere does he seem to grasp why this occurs: information control. With the traditional media going the way of Borders Books, people are turning to outlets such as this blog both to figure out what’s important now, and to fill in the blanks on what public education left out. History, Economics, &c.

Previously, a Herman Cain may have gone under the bus and stayed there, because there was no way to get a word in edgewise and ask for, you know, facts, to back up the finger pointing. A Ted Kennedy can have his Chappaquiddick  and still have a political career. John Edwards’ scandal takes him down.

Our weak party structures also contribute to one of the worst features of contemporary American politics: the rise of political dynasties. While these were not unknown in the country’s past, ever since the Kennedy clan made its bid for permanent political power, we have seen more sons and daughters of politicians try to carry on the family trade. In general, organized political parties try to fight that trend; advancement in politics is given to the loyal as a reward for long service, not to glamorous upstarts as a reward for their genes.

This explains Jeb Bush’s preeminence in the 2012 field. Oh, wait: we’re sick of dynasties. Because, as a result of the information revolution, we don’t have to accept the big party dynasty. Not to say that Bush isn’t well qualified; he has supporters. But for 300 million+ people, come on. No ball hogging.

Historically, the common sense of the American people and the public spirit of American wealth have helped keep our politics on a relatively even keel. We still have plenty of patriotic and generous, spirited rich people, and the American people continue to have a healthy respect for laws and the limits of democracy.

Yes, but #OWS really points out that Progressivism is to our politics what osteoporosis is to the elderly. And even the likelier candidates for 2012 seem strangely comfortable with the over-extended federal government.

Bringing coherence to the politics of a diverse country of 300 million is a difficult task. The answers to our problems are seldom obvious, and even when they are, the path to achieving them is not. And because the United States is on the cutting edge of world history, and our effort to build mass prosperity in a post-industrial era is something that has never really been tried before, we need political movements and leaders with the ability to imagine new ways forward and to inspire faith.

Not obvious? Federal over-reach is the general description of the problem. Admittedly, unwinding the last century is going to be tough. It will take inspired leadership to convince the people to re-assume their liberty, and discharge the debt. Greece is about what you expect from humans. We must again prove exceptional.

The reason there is even hope of arriving at an exceptional turn-about is the Information Age. Thus, I think Mead noted a positive symptom and talked his way around the effects.

Update: I’ll go with Daily Pundit on most of his ideas, but #3 really needs to understand that, for political purposes, “any aggregation of people, to include Unions” would be an improvement over “corporations”.

Via Instapundit


2 Responses to “Walter Russell Mead Talks Around The Decay Of Political Parties”

  1. Edward
    October 31st, 2011 @ 4:43 pm

    “we need political movements and leaders with the ability to imagine new ways forward and to inspire faith”


    I have faith in God.

    I have faith in my Country.

    I have faith that the United States Marine Corps will kick someone’s balls up by their ears if unleashed.

    Everyone else has to prove themselves.

    As for faith in politicians?  Don’t make me laugh.

  2. Adjoran
    October 31st, 2011 @ 5:08 pm

    Actually, the “party bosses” began losing power with the McGovern Commission reforms after 1968 which made most delegates to the Democratic National Convention be selected by a democratic process, mainly primaries.  The GOP followed suit blindly to avoid be labeled “anti-Democratic,” and the party “bosses” had largely lost all power and influence over nominees, patronage, and convention delegates well before there were personal computers on the World Wide Web.

    So if you have continuing complaints about “the Ruling Class,” blame your fellow citizens.

    The problem with Mead’s understanding is his description:  “. . . our effort to build mass prosperity in a post-industrial era is something that has never really been tried before . . . ”  There really isn’t and should NOT be an “our effort to build” etc.  Prosperity isn’t a structure to be built, but the result of a successful free market.  The best thing “we” can to ensure it is to leave it the heck alone.

    I cringe every time some politician uses the Clinton term, “we need to grow this economy” as if it were a potted plant and government provided all the sunlight, water, and fertilizer.   In this case the plant flourishes the further away the gardener stays.