Policy < Politics

Judging by what they’ve done, Pelosi and Dubya agree on (at least) two things:

  1. It’s better for the war in Iraq to continue than for the Republicans to win in 2008.
  2. Farm subsidies are a bad idea.

Now, you’d think that — with the Speaker of the House and the President against them — farm subsidies would be on the way out, right?  We all remember Pelosi’s hundred hours, right?  Breaking the link between lobbyists and legislation, get stuff done, that sort of thing.  Sounds like the farm bill’s already in the shitcan, doesn’t it?


Once again, protecting the party’s chances in 2008 win out over actually, you know, doing good:

But as the latest farm bill heads to the House floor on Thursday, farm-state lawmakers seem likely to prevail in keeping the old subsidies largely in place, drawing a veto threat on Wednesday from the White House.


Faced with fierce opposition from the House Agriculture Committee, Ms. Pelosi and other Democratic leaders lowered their sights and are now backing the committee’s bill, in part to protect rural freshmen lawmakers who may be vulnerable in the 2008 elections.

Doug Mataconis at TLP attributes this shift to farm lobbyists (see “lobbyists and legislation”, above), and in a sense I agree, but there’s a bigger problem here: the first priority of the majority party is staying in power.  We’ve seen it with the Republicans, and now we’re seeing it with the Democrats.  They came to power on an anti-war, anti-Bush platform — but they’ve passed up every realistic chance they’ve had to end the war (setting timetables that guarantee a veto is not a realistic chance; refusing to fund the war is a realistic chance) and “impeachment is off the table”.

One can’t claim to be surprised when politicians game the system.  When a dog shits on your yard, it’s not because he hates you: it’s because he’s a dog.  So it is with politicians and politics.


6 Responses to “Policy < Politics”

  1. 1 southernvoice
    July 27, 2007 at 14:06

    We should clean out the congress and the white house. The fix is in however and just as hillary and edwards talked of shuting out other democratic candidates from their debates they do everything they can to shut out third party candidates so that they have a lock on everything. If they feel threatened they give us corrupt electronic voting machines to ensure their election. Its worse than a third world nation.

  2. July 27, 2007 at 18:26

    It’s not so much that “the fix is in”, I think, as that the system has evolved primarily to protect and perpetuate itself. Even if we do clean out the House and the executive (and don’t forget the Senate or the Supreme Court!) we’re likely to get more of the same. Most of our new candidates will have come from state and local politics — where the same “get re-elected first, maintain party power second, bread and circuses and forget responsible government” priorities hold. Again, it’s a result of politicians gaming the system. We don’t reward leadership, because sometimes leadership hurts.

    Smile, it gets worse. Even if we do elect representatives with a shred of integrity — and who will hold onto that integrity when faced with lobbyists — we still have to deal with an enormously bloated and fiercely territorial federal bureaucracy. That bureaucracy has evolved (under the same pressures) to seek its own survival and growth first and foremost, which includes competing with other federal agencies for resources. They’ll worry about serving the people maybe sometimes if it looks good in the papers. Oh yeah, and we’ll have to do the same at the state level.

    Once that’s out of the way, we’ll have to dismantle decades (well over a century now, really) of ever-more-intrusive state and federal power and policy, while somehow identifying and preserving the bits that do actually work. If we reform government but leave the structure and tools of statism, we risk losing it all the next time we hold an election.

    And speaking of elections: we’ll also need to figure out what flaws in our mindset and culture led us to elect and approve of this sort of coercive government over the past hundred and fifty (or so) years. If we don’t fix those, we’re going to have to keep doing the same damn thing.

    I’m not saying it can’t be done, but if we don’t recognize the scope of the problem, we’re hosed.

  3. July 27, 2007 at 23:31


  4. August 3, 2007 at 03:39

    Yeah, that’s what we need: another Leviathan.

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