On RINOs (and other small political epiphanies)


I despise The PBS NewsHour, largely because it's a tv show so why the heck is it on the radio, KQED? It's a tv show! It's designed for tv and not the radio. Put it on the tv and not the radio. KQED. Gah.

Anyway, I've been reduced to listening to NewsHour a couple times this week and remarkable bits of politics came up a couple times.

For instance, following Jeff Flake bombing the Senate floor, NewsHour interviewed Senator Thune who said, essentially, Jeff Flake is a moral guy but the rest of us have more pressing concerns than morality. I'm barely exaggerating. Go to the transcript and ctrl+f moral.

Then today (transcript not up yet), either Shields or Brooks pointed out that, compared to European political parties, American political parties don't have clear identities of themselves. They take their identity from their presidential candidate. This is clearly true. Parties don't even decide on a platform until a candidate is selected.

It also explains the bizarre comment someone left me on Facebook recently. (Here's the OP on Twitter.) The comment I refer to was something about yeehaw let's get all those establishment RINOs out of there! to which the kindest thing I could say was Huh? (although that is not what I said). It's a dumb comment, I thought. The idea that Flake is a Republican in name only is pretty mind-boggling (to say nothing of the fact that it was a bit of a nonsequitur). But only if you consider the Republican Party as a party of ideas---and policies and goals associated with those ideas. If, instead, you consider the Republican Party as the expanded body of Donald Trump, then hell yeah he's a RINO. Good riddance.

This theory can also explain the last eight years of the Republican Party in the negative in which their entire raison d'être was to be anti-the Democratic president.

Which raises the question: are the Democrats now merely anti-the Republican president?

It's hard to tell. Certainly, I mean, they are. They don't have a very coherent set of thinking on display outside that point. However, Trump does seem to be a special exception and so it's hard to say. But for the last eight years were they the party of Obama? They certainly tried to be, I would say.

Whether this is a vote for the American system or for a parliamentary system, I'm not sure. I've spent my life railing for the need for multiple parties, but unless we enormously change our political system, that won't happen. Weirdly, as our system gets more and more polarized and, frankly, crazy, I'm less certain we should change it. I'm still working out all the reasons I feel that way.

ps: betcha i haven't ever written so much about politics in an october that wasn't a presidential year before; thanks trump!

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