Justin du Coeur (jducoeur) wrote,
Justin du Coeur

Lessons in politics

By now, I am *utterly* sick of the "Scott Brown phenomenon". And yet, I'm slightly fascinated by it, mainly because it demonstrates that the Republicans have learned from Obama. Unfortunately, what they have learned is that substance doesn't matter -- in modern politics, it's all about style.

Don't get me wrong: I like Obama a lot. I voted for him, and still quite approve of the job he's doing. But I approve because I got precisely what I was expecting: a hardworking technocrat who would sincerely attempt to grapple with the many hard problems facing the country today. But from the number of people who profess horrible disappointment, I've concluded that most people who voted for him did so not because of what he actually said of substance (which has always been pretty middle-of-the-road), but because of what he symbolized to them. Obama (somewhat despite himself, although he didn't do much to fight it) wound up symbolizing huge sweeping change -- despite the fact that all of his details were relatively incremental. Similarly, Brown is *also* being used to symbolize change, albeit quite specifically about changing somewhat fictionalized healthcare proposals.

Problem is, symbols don't govern, people do. If you listened to what Obama actually said, it was clear that he is a hardcore centrist by nature. Similarly, if you listen to what Brown has said to date, it's pretty clear that he is a very ordinary Republican Senator, far more interested in obstructionism for tactical reasons than actually getting anything done. (I'd love to be proven wrong here, but so far I've seen nothing to change my opinion.)

Seriously: electing people based on what they symbolize to you is -- well, okay, not *quite* as silly as choosing your leaders based on skill with lawn furniture. But it's pretty close, and the stakes are quite a bit higher...
Tags: politics

  • Post a new comment


    Anonymous comments are disabled in this journal

    default userpic

    Your reply will be screened

    Your IP address will be recorded