Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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January 11, 2004
By: Kevin Drum

INTEREST GROUPS....Here's Mickey Kaus a few days ago talking about how the Democratic party is hostage to its special interests:

Teachers' unions whose elaborate job protections for the semi-competent have turned suburban schools into swamps of mediocrity and inner city schools into nightmares....Affirmative action pressure groups whose efforts guarantee that competent professionals of color must carry around for life the stigma of having received special preferences. Bilingual educators promoting what is by now a proven means of holding Latino students back. Housing lobbyists who push "house the poorest first" rules that turn HUD projects into community-destroying hellholes. A senior lobby that has prevented adjustment of Social Security benefits--including "means-testing" the benefits of the rich--until it may be too late.

But how about Republicans? Let's try it this way instead:

Abortion crusaders whose opposition even to harmless stem cell research condemns millions to the slow-motion mental disintegration of Alzheimer's disease. Corporate interests so amoral they're willing to risk our food supply by insisting on their right to process cows that are too sick to walk to the slaughterhouse under their own power. Right wing gun zealots whose unyielding opposition to even modest gun control efforts keeps parents in constant fear that every day might bring another Columbine. Monomaniacal tax cut jihadists who recklessly mortgage our children's future and our standing in the world so that their millionaire pals can buy a few extra playthings. Oil and gas companies continuing to deny the now proven fact that global warming is a deadly reality -- until it may be too late.

My point here isn't just to mock Mickey's prose although there is that too it's to wonder why it is that Democrats are forever being taken to task for pandering to their "interest goups" but Republicans aren't. After all, if unions are an interest group, so is management. If blacks are an interest group, so are whites. If environmentalists are an interest group, so are industrial polluters.

The fact is that both Democrats and Republicans are growing ever more attached to their respective interest groups and less and less interested in appealing to the middle. And while I'll freely admit that I may be too much of a pragmatic technocrat by nature, it's hard not to be discouraged by how hard it is to find anyone these days who actually cares about facts on the ground and genuine solutions. Firm allegiance to simpleminded ideology combined with ruthless political cynicism seems to be the order of the day, and it's a toxic combination.

But it's late and I'm tired, so I'll spare you the rest of this rant. If anyone's interested in donating a billion dollars to start up a nice sensible party of the center, just leave your email in comments.

POSTSCRIPT: Jeez, writing that sendup of Mickey's paragraph was hard work and mine isn't nearly as good as his. Does he just knock that stuff out effortlessly, or do you think it took him as long as it took me?

Kevin Drum 10:43 PM Permalink | Trackbacks

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