September 9th, 2005


The Idiot Kid Syndrome


Since Americans are apparently no longer taught that branch of animal control studies known as "political theory," I gather there are some folks who have misread my periodic hair-pulling here over the state of U.S. governance as representing the views of a "liberal"...hence were surprised when one of my recent parentheticals referred to "ill-informed liberals (if that isn't a redundancy)."

Goody! Clarification time! :)

Until fairly recently, conservatives were nearly always better-informed than liberals; whatever one thought of their policies (many of which I considered misguided) that was simply a fact. I am not speaking here of those underprivileged Bible-thumping inbred unfortunates who today apparently make up the GOP base (while its elders pick their pockets, of course): such people were, until very recently, mercifully kept away from the levers of power.* I mean conservative theorists -- there used to be some! -- who understood the things liberals too often didn't like to think about: war and peace issues, for example, or how you make an economy run without indebting yourself into extinction.

News flash: just as liberals are (largely thanks to the internet) becoming better informed than they have perhaps ever been, genuine conservative theorists are becoming extinct. This is why the recent debates about what constitutes "conservative theory" so badly miss the point: the current GOP bunch are no more wedded to "rich people" or "individualism" than they are to "poor people" or "social responsibility." Near as I can make out, these guys are into stealing for their personal friends, period, and in doing so they have screwed the hell out of (to name a few) rich investors, any number of major corporations, federal, state, and local governments, and -- maybe more than anybody else! -- their own military! fact, of everyone other than their personal friends, so far as I can tell.

"Individualism"? You're kidding, right? The astronomically corrupt welfare program for the Veep's company, Halliburton (and its subsidiaries), alone disproves that horsepuckey. Get real.

What frightens me most, though, is that I believe I'm seeing in government a shift that already occurred in American business, called (in the Eighties) the "Idiot Kid Syndrome": the death of the older generation that actually understood how things work, first-hand, and the ascendancy of their overprivileged kids, who don't have a clue about anything a-tall, a-tall. Quick examples, and I'm outties.

The classic example for liberals, from 1989 EV, the "peace dividend": that is, the belief that "now that the USSR has failed, we can stop having a huge military and yet remain a superpower." Look, I'd like to live in the land of dreamy dreams where nothing ever goes wrong, too, but we happen to live in the world, and it doesn't work that way here. So sorry.

Only now we have "conservatives" who honestly believe that you can de-fund the government, run its charge cards through the clouds, reshape the entire globe at whim, and -- by the way -- massively piss off an increasingly well-armed urban poor, while stretching your military so thin it squeaks...with no danger to either foreign policy, or domestic social control, whatsoever. And, y'know, I'd like to live in the land of dreamy dreams where nothing ever goes wrong, too, but we happen to live in the world, and it doesn't work that way here. So sorry.

I've been increasingly siding with Democrats on the theory that their party has become the refuge, not only of the libertarian social impulse, but of that handful of people who have any institutional memory. Example: here in California, Ah-nuld is cleverly ending the requirement for safety testing -- not to mention automobile insurance -- for all California drivers who happen to be illegal aliens. We have bazillions of them here, and Ah-nuld apparently wants to make absolutely certain that they're both uninsured, and untested on their ability to drive. Oh, I assume he doesn't think that's what he's doing -- I assume (God help him) he thinks that desperately poor people will stop taking the many low-paying jobs just waiting for them here, if to do so means that they'll have to avoid getting a driver's license. That's right: he believes that making the lives of illegal aliens more convenient (no more long lines!), and less costly (no more insurance!) while making their presence on the roads vastly more dangerous, IS A REALLY FINE IDEA. And lots of other people seem to believe that, too: not all of them uneducated, or overtly racist.**

Did I mention that I'd like to live in the land of dreamy dreams where nothing ever goes wrong, too, but we happen to live in the world, and it doesn't work that way here? So sorry?

Yeah, I thought I had.

No, I strongly believe that both political parties are largely being run today by people with no more understanding of the real world, and intelligent governance of same, than, say, a crack addict afflicted with tertiary syphilis***...but that on the whole, there are today more Democratic officeholders who have at least some sense of this, than Republicans. I do not expect their rank and file supporters -- either party -- to understand any of this at all well (see above): that's why we're supposed to have a professional political class in the first place, see? To make sure things go along more or less well, despite most people -- even most really intelligent and educated people -- having little or no understanding of how it's done?

Once upon a time, we had such a political class, in both parties. I wish to heck we still did. I've already suggested praying for undeserved luck, but strongly fear it's running out.

Hope that makes things plainer! :D

93 93/93 -- AJ
(who hopes this does it for politics, for the nonce, but hey, you asked!)

* They were also, of course, nearly always Democrats, until 1968 EV: the former Democratic "solid south," who associated the GOP with the hated Abraham Lincoln. How times change!
** I should note, having seen his post on the subject (oops), that I share isomeme's distaste for a special class of driver's license for illegal aliens -- an absurdity, and one which in any case such aliens would tend to avoid. I do, however, insist that there was a reason the DMV (like hospital care and city law enforcement) wasn't the place we did immigration enforcement until recently (thanks, Ah-nuld): i.e., public safety, in this case on the roads.
*** Which, come to think, makes you wonder about certain officeholders, doesn't it? It sure would explain a lot. :/