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

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Kakistocracy, An Ongoing Series

Trumpism is Populism.  Populism is the belief that "elites" (however the populist demagogue seeks to define that group) are stifling and destroying the "authentic" people.

Part of Jacksonian Populism was the idea of the spoils system.  It held not only that "to the victor go the spoils," but also that "every person is equal to his neighbor, perhaps more equal."  Jackson said something to this effect, and I could look it up, but I have a cold and I don't want to.  The basic gist was that any red-blooded American could do the jobs of governing.  So you didn't need a professional civil service, you just needed partisan loyalists who would kick back some of their salary to finance your campaign.  It's your democracy, America, cherish it.

The result of the Jacksonian spoils system was that - in addition to funding campaigns and keeping partisan loyalty high - it created an incompetent and corrupt federal government.  This was a feature not a bug.

Today, we slide closer and closer to that Jacksonian system of incompetence and corruption.  Professional civil servants are starting to throw up their hands and quit under the pressure of trying to appease the Tangerine Nightmare.  Rather than compromise their beliefs, they are resigning.

The end result should be that Trump will replace these competent civil servants with sycophants, ideologues and incompetents.  This will also likely result in various rolling catastrophes of poor governance.

From a partisan perspective, should the Democrats be chortling over the looming clusterfuck that will be Trump's time in power?  Or will he so damage the idea of good government that even once Democrats regain power, they will inherit a landscape where no one trust the government to walk and chew gum at the same time?

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