Blog Credo

The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.

H.L. Mencken

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Process Vs. Purity

I've written this to death, but the main difference between liberals and the Left is that liberals accept institutions as they are and try and work within them, whereas the Left wishes to change the institutions themselves.

John Cole gives a nice summary of this, too, using the text of Obama's speech at Howard and links to a Dylan Matthews piece that I somehow missed.

Institutions are critical for everything.  We like to think we are above the influence of these impersonal forces, but we aren't.  My course uses the following definition: Institutions are self-perpetuating and valued for their own sake.  They are very, very difficult to dislodge.  The GOP has spent the last 20 years - since Gingrich - trying to destroy the institutions of government that they don't like.  They haven't quite succeeded, but they've given it a go.  Trump is a product of that strategy.

However, that means that being a liberal almost by definition means supporting the institutions of government.  The Left feels entirely unmoved by institutions, too.  That's at the heart of Sanders' "revolution."  The problem is that institutions ARE valuable, and if they are getting attacked from the left and right, that is an assault on the very idea of the commonwealth.

I do hope we find our equilibrium soon.

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