I’m back

December 12, 2012

Previously, whenever I let time go by without posting on this blog, visits would drop off to a daily average of 0 until I resumed; this time, though, I have been surprised to note a steady trickle of visitors throughout. One day recently I actually hit double digits. So in spite of too much else on my plate, I have decided to start writing again. Let’s see how long I can keep it up this time.

Let’s see, what has been going on since my last post… Oh yes, there was an election, wasn’t there. More or less as I expected – or at least as I remember expecting, I haven’t checked to see whether what I actually wrote here confirms this – the Romney campaign focused on economic conservatism at the expense of other flavors, but failed to come up with anything  to make such a platform more attractive to the general public than it has been since 1929. Romney seems to have taken it for granted that the widespread and understandable disappointment in the rate of the recovery since 2008 would translate automatically into an eagerness to embrace the Republican alternative; whereas in fact lots of us still blame Republican policies for the collapse itself and believe that returning to them can only make the situation worse. In fact the GOP has done as well as it has in presidential elections since World War II by focusing on things other than its classical economic program: patriotism, fear of street crime, concerns about increasing cultural diversity and the decline of sexual morality, all that sort of thing. The one time I can remember when a Republican won on largely economic grounds was 1980, when neither candidate actually embraced his own party’s traditional position: Carter did not run as much of a New Dealer, and Reagan claimed to be offering something radically new (which his running mate had actually called “voodoo” when running against him in the primaries). If the parties that year had nominated Bush Sr and Ted Kennedy instead, then maybe the election would have been a clear referendum on the New Deal. But we didn’t have one, most GOP candidates have done their best to avoid one, and Romney’s going all out for one seems to show an unprecedentedly naive trust in his own talking points. Now I’m not saying he couldn’t have won such a referendum, that an argument couldn’t have been found to win his case for him; I do tend to think it couldn’t, but my point here is that it didn’t seem to occur to Romney that some new or more vigorous argument was needed.

Nevertheless the election was a rather close one, nationally, though individual states and counties seem to be turning more solidly “red” or “blue” than ever before. So polarization is still very much in the  news. A couple of weeks ago I finally read The Big Sort, the 2008 book on how liberals and conservatives seem to be crystallizing into two separate cultures with ever less contact and communication between them. I’ve also been going back to the origins of two-party politics in Restoration England. Maybe I’ll manage to post something on these subjects in the days to come.

Wish me luck!

 

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