Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts. Founded by Mark Kleiman (1951-2019)
In Defense of GOP Sabotage
Republicans have a lot to apologize for, but trying to sabotage the economy over the next few months isn’t one of them.
Steve Benen wonders whether Republicans are deliberately attempting to sabotage the economy to enhance their electoral prospects.Â Jonathan Chait defends the GOP’s motives :
I think you have to be careful about making assumptions about motive like this. Establishing motive is always very hard to prove. What’s more, the notion of deliberate sabotage presumes a conscious awareness that doesn’t square with human psychology as I understand it. People are extraordinarily deft at making their principles — not just their stated principles, but their actual principles — comport with their interests. The old Upton Sinclair quote — “It is difficult to make a man understand something when his salary depends upon him not understanding it” — has a lot of wisdom to it…
I’m not excusing their behavior. You can resist that kind of mental trap — it just takes a lot of intellectual discipline and integrity. I don’t think you’re going to find a great deal of that sort of intellectual discipline and integrity among high-level politicians.
Well, then let me defend their behavior, sort of.
If you’re a right-wing Republican nutcase — which is to say, you are a Republican — then you think that Democratic policies areÂ very, very bad for the country.Â If that is so, then what you fear is that the economy will improve, salvaging Democratic hopes for this November’s midterms.Â And that will lead to more Democratic policies than otherwise, whichÂ — in your view — will be very,Â very bad for the country.
So of course you want to “sabotage” any economic recovery over the next few months, because you believe that any temporary improvement will pale in comparison to theÂ medium- and long-term damage that Democratic policies will cause.Â That’s a hard calculus, but it’s a pretty straightforward one, and perfectly reasonable if you accept Republican assumptions.
In 2006, I was frightened that the economy would somehow improve and save Republican control of Congress.Â Fortunately it didn’t, and Democrats took over, to the lasting benefit of the nation.Â I don’t think that I, or any Democrat, should apologize for that attitude.Â And neither should Republicans now.Â They should apologize for their world-view, their ideology, and their refusal to face facts.Â But not this.
Author: Jonathan Zasloff
Jonathan Zasloff teaches Torts, Land Use, Environmental Law, Comparative Urban Planning Law, Legal History, and Public Policy Clinic - Land Use, the Environment and Local Government. He grew up and still lives in the San Fernando Valley, about which he remains immensely proud (to the mystification of his friends and colleagues). After graduating from Yale Law School, and while clerking for a federal appeals court judge in Boston, he decided to return to Los Angeles shortly after the January 1994 Northridge earthquake, reasoning that he would gladly risk tremors in order to avoid the average New England wind chill temperature of negative 55 degrees.
Professor Zasloff has a keen interest in world politics; he holds a PhD in the history of American foreign policy from Harvard and an M.Phil. in International Relations from Cambridge University. Much of his recent work concerns the influence of lawyers and legalism in US external relations, and has published articles on these subjects in the New York University Law Review and the Yale Law Journal. More generally, his recent interests focus on the response of public institutions to social problems, and the role of ideology in framing policy responses.
Professor Zasloff has long been active in state and local politics and policy. He recently co-authored an article discussing the relationship of Proposition 13 (California's landmark tax limitation initiative) and school finance reform, and served for several years as a senior policy advisor to the Speaker of California Assembly. His practice background reflects these interests: for two years, he represented welfare recipients attempting to obtain child care benefits and microbusinesses in low income areas. He then practiced for two more years at one of Los Angeles' leading public interest environmental and land use firms, challenging poorly planned development and working to expand the network of the city's urban park system. He currently serves as a member of the boards of the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy (a state agency charged with purchasing and protecting open space), the Los Angeles Center for Law and Justice (the leading legal service firm for low-income clients in east Los Angeles), and Friends of Israel's Environment. Professor Zasloff's other major activity consists in explaining the Triangle Offense to his very patient wife, Kathy.
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