Tobold's Blog
Thursday, December 31, 2020
Mapping the fault line

Unless you live in Belgium (and not even necessarily if you do), you probably don't know who the prime minister of Belgium currently is and what his politics are. Belgian politics are not only very complicated, they are also largely irrelevant for the rest of the world. Meanwhile the Belgians perfectly know who the president of the United States of America currently is, and what his politics are. However, both seen from afar and how they are presented in US media, US politics often appear to be mostly about partisanship, Republicans vs. Democrats. This is quite often where the political fault line is, but not always.

In a two-party political system, each party has a certain interest in at least appearing to be united against the other party. Maybe you have a preference of this wing or that wing of your party over the other, but usually you'd rather have somebody from the "wrong wing" in power rather than somebody from the "wrong party". Thus a lot of Republicans made an effort to appear standing behind Trump for the last 4 years. Sometimes they needed to use weasel words when Trump did something too outrageous, but at least the Republican politicians in power rarely let any opposition they felt to Trump show.

But since the election, the fault line has shifted. It isn't really Democrats vs. Republicans anymore, but rather something like real world vs. fantasy world. And with no Democrats supporting the fantasy that Trump actually won the election, the rift now goes right through the Republican party. And what is interesting is that the actions of the fantasy wing will probably force the real world wing to stop with the weasel words and go on record with that they really believe on January 6.

Weasel words usually work well for the media. You don't need to say that Trump won the election, you say something like "he has the right to pursue all legal options". That isn't actually a lie, and it won't get you targeted by Trump and his base. Freedom of speech means you can say whatever you want, and be protected at least from legal consequences. However, sometimes you'll find yourself in a situation where your words have legal weight, and you say them under oath or in an official capacity that doesn't leave that much wiggle room. That was pretty funny to watch when looking at the disparity between what the Trump team said in the media about voter fraud, and what they said in legal documents to the courts, where they were under penalty of perjury.

Something very similar applies to votes of members of the U.S. Congress. A vote is binary, yes or no, you can't use fancy weasel words instead, and the vote is on public record. So on January 6, every Democrat in the house and senate will vote to accept Biden's victory in the electoral college, but the Republicans will be split. Each and every one of them will have to decide whether to vote for reality, or whether to vote for Trumpism. And while the outcome of the overall vote is certain, each individual vote will be remembered by the different wings of the Republican party, and will be subject to a lot of insults and attacks. It is pretty certain the the Republicans aren't looking forward to this vote, because it will map the fault line that runs through their party.

Republicans have mostly sided with Trump to bide their time. It's no surprise that now that he was voted out, they can say what they really think.

Everybody seems to have forgotten that Trump was a Democrat until he switched parties and won the Republican primary. Most Republicans didn't and still don't like him. He doesn't conduct himself or his personal life like a conservative. Some of his policies are very conservative and he may have successfully accomplished a few very positive things, but at the core, his values are more Democrat.

The overwhelming negative press toward him is deserved and two-fold. 1). He says and does terrible things. 2). Democrats don't like their own playbook being used against them.

The extreme partisanship will continue though. That's not a Trump thing, that's all politicians, and they have to do it, because their constituency are not smart enough to understand the nuance and grey area of most issues.
Extreme partisanship tends to be much worse in political systems that enforce or heavily induce two-party politics. The US electoral system is one of the world's worst in this regard. The UK political system, while also quite partisan, is not quite so relentlessly two-party and therefore not quite so bad. Other countries with proportional representation or some sort of alternative voting tend to be better still.

Unfortunately some sort of party politics is pretty much inevitable in any representative democracy, unless you make parliamentary votes secret (so parties cannot know how their representatives are voting). But then if you do that, the electorate cannot know how those they vote for vote, so it ceases to be a real democracy.
Post a Comment

<< Home
Newer›  ‹Older

  Powered by Blogger   Free Page Rank Tool