Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Accountability, 10 Years On, and Negative-Sum Games

Really good >post at TAPPED about the lack of accountability in our current political system, particularly with regards to this administration.

And Matt has a thoughtful post about the importance of being thoughtful and technocratic oriented when making your policy proscriptions. He does it more from the “look at those poor Republicans, stuck to bad ideas they trumpeted because of short-term electoral advantage”, and fails to mention the implicit inverse: Democrats need to keep being a party of wonks and good ideas, not easy to sell ones.

Actually that relates to various brouhaha’s regarding Weekly Standard’s “10 years of Conservatism” summary. A lot of anger about missed opportunities is coming from various conservative blokes. They just seem really angry that despite having unprecedented degrees of power, very little in conservative goals have been accomplished. Pop-culture moves leftwards, the government is bigger and more expensive than ever, and authoritarian states grow stronger and bolder.

What’s interesting is that these failures of conservativism (or neuterings) aren’t making the left happy either. If the right is sad government is bigger, shouldn’t the left be happy? Isn’t that the world of polarization we live in?

Of course not. Conservatives are upset the government is spending more, but liberals are upset that they aren’t spending it on anything useful. The left is very sad about the past 10 years, and not just because of losing political power.

Which goes to the central point of this blog; most blogs view politics today as a zero-sum game, where one side’s political defeat is automatically one side’s political boon. Politics can be a positive-sum game and can be a negative-sum game. Now we can try to work towards positive-sum scenarios (like unity after attack), and we can accept zero-sum politics as inevitable. But the aspects of politics that are negative-sum, that upset and disappoint all sides of the political spectrum, are to be avoided if at all possible.

The belief of this blog is that many of those times when we get negative-sum results that displease both sides, like a growing federal behemoth and deficit that helps few, it is the result of Constitutional set up and actors able to take advantage of it’s inefficiency.


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