Thursday, July 06, 2006

[Politics, Rebellion Week]

Party Discipline.

George Bush once famously joked that, "If this were a dictatorship, it'd be a heck of a lot easier, just so long as I'm the dictator." He's right. Tyranny tends to streamline government--you silence your enemies, find a bunch of toadies to pass your laws and voila!--easy governing.

Well, apropos of my post below, this is effectively what the GOP has done. It has remained in lockstep (rhetorically, anyway) for so long that the appearance of agreement has now become the frame in which all debates are judged. The first team to squabble loses. (And the GOP rarely loses. If the squabble is too great, legislation doesn't come to a vote. And if it passes, it is always with the express imprimatur of the White House. Never has Bush had to veto a bill, and rarely does he even threaten a veto.)

This is a great frame for the Republicans--who are, after all, in power--but a pretty crappy one for the country. Having maintained their hold on government through this exercise of party discipline (and select rules changes, rigged elections, and corrupt money laundering), the Republicans naturally want every issue to be decided on levels of agreement.

But why on earth would the media play along? Their sole raison d'etre is to get the story, which means challenging power. Republican party discipline may make it difficult for the media to extract much juice in a discussion format, but that shouldn't mean they accept the rules of the RNC and play along.

Democracies, unlike dictatorships, are messy collections of competing voices. You have to compromise and bring people to the table. Democrats should be kicking ideas around. God forbid our leaders should have an open debate about war and peace. The game of gotcha, wherein exposing a party as having more than one view is the goal, serves no purpose but to strengthen the hand of those seeking to consolidate power.

1 comment:

zemeckis said...

never forget fred hampton!!