Susan Collins: real Republican, fake moderate

She’s helping her colleagues hold the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell hostage to tax cuts for their rich donors. Where’s the outrage?

Sen. Susan Collins demonstrates once again that there’s damned little moderation – and no good faith whatsoever – in “moderate Republicans.”

Collins says she’s for DADT repeal: but only if Reid agrees to sacrifice two weeks of floor time so her troglodyte colleagues can put on their homophobic floor show and offer amendments calling for separate shower facilities. And then she says she won’t let that process even get started until there’s a deal on taxes: which means until the Democrats agree to give away hundreds of billions of dollars in tax cuts to people who don’t need them, so that those same Republicans can then cite the deficit as a reason for not spending money on pressing national needs.

Conservatives who vote for moderate Republicans in order to defeat Democrats are behaving reasonably. Anyone who claims to be an actual moderate and votes for a moderate Republican is acting irrationally. Electing moderate Republicans only empowers the crazies who now own the Republican party lock, stock, and teabag.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact:

6 thoughts on “Susan Collins: real Republican, fake moderate”

  1. I constantly wonder why I vote for Democrats, because no matter what they promise, what they deliver will be the policy preferences of centrist Democrats, preferences I don't share in any degree.

    The Republicans are too pure; the Democrats not pure enough, and, somehow, the same corrupt corporate plutocrats rule, no matter what the election results.

  2. In his recent interview with Rachel Maddow, Jon Stewart observed that what divides America is not Democrat vs. Republican, conservative vs. liberal, left vs. right, but instead corrupt vs. non-corrupt. It struck me as a clear-headed point — in fact, the first distinction WITH a difference I've heard in a while — as it would be hard to argue that the non-corrupt are running either the majority or the minority these days.

  3. Yes. To a large extent, America, today, is ruled by a class coalition, not by a Party coalition. The division that counts is not one of partisan identification, but whether you are for corporate business, or against; that determines whether you are part of the ruling classes, or politically helpless and hopeless.

    The partisan and ideological divisions are the source of mere entertainment values. Stewart has a lot of insight into how the so-called news media makes those predictable partisan and ideological divisions into "the story", even when, for the vast majority, the division reflects nothing more fundamental than ambivalence, with the volume turned up, and thus, manages to disinform everyone, who watches or listens, while encouraging people to use the formation of opinion, like the donning of a college sweatshirt or a baseball cap, to declare allegiance to a tribe, a tribe that is as more a commercial creation than an authentic organic reality.

    I'm not one, who says that there are no differences between the political Parties. I don't see their constituencies, practices or competition as symmetrical. (Symmetry is not a legitimate view; it is a propaganda technique.) I can remember when people said that they couldn't see the difference between Humphrey and Nixon (!), but I could see. When the country voted for Reagan over Carter, a profound and far-reaching change of direction followed. Mondale told the truth in 1984 about what that choice entailed. Clinton really did bring a significant policy break from Reagan-Bush, and I don't think it was an economic accident that Clinton's Presidency saw the only significant gains in median income in 30+ years. In retrospect, though, it is clear that, at the end of the Clinton Administration, the conservative revolution continued and a foundation was being laid, for what followed.

    The Republican Party has been, and continues to be, an effective vehicle for pressing the on-going revolution in our political affairs, which has made corruption endemic to the American political economy, and authoritarianism our apparent destiny. And, the Democratic Party has not only ceased to be an effective vehicle to oppose them, it has become a means to accomodate and legitimate their agenda.

    I'm not one of those liberals, who idles about imagining how Obama could rally the nation with an artful speech or some hardball tactic, sure to delight me, me, me. Obama is a highly skilled and perceptive politician doing what he thinks he has to, to get and hold office and power. And, the voters, who hold the electoral balance in our Republic are "independents" with ill-informed and ill-considered political opinions, whose views of the moment are driven by a corrupt corporate Media; Obama pays a lot of attention to the Money, because the Money drives pundit opinion and political campaigning. He's cautious and self-protective, in the political environment in which has learned to thrive, personally.

    Uncorrupt, center-left liberals and progressives may be pretty much right about everything, but it doesn't matter. Being right about everything is no great achievement in our present circumstances. Oh, there's plenty of room to argue to details about what, precisely, is the right thing to do, but, once you are free enough of vested interest and propaganda fantasy to at least consider what is the right thing to do, you're pretty much home free. The right thing to do is, after all, the right thing to do, and there is an amazing coincidence of considerations pressing on us to change everything in a particular direction, to prepare a future.

    Corporate rentiers of the worst sort dominate our political economy, and they just want to keep the party going. Pretend and extend. They continue to successfully press the country to choose stagnation and decline, to prolong the opportunities for parastitism and scavenging in the twilight's scameconomy. And, they "advocate" for such policies with incoherence, obfuscation and a politics of tribalism and resentment. The Deficit must be reduced; tax cuts for the rich! Social Security is going broke. War with Iran. X-ray the pilot; he might be carrying a bomb! Global warming and peak oil? Conspiracy theories! None of it makes any sense.

    If we just told the truth, and embraced honesty over fraud, we'd be pretty much outside the whole political system as it exists, as opposed to Obama as to George W. Bush. There would still be plenty to disagree about; progressive vs. conservative, etc., but it would not be the well-reheased poses of Keith Olbermann or Bill O'Reilly that defined the disagreements.

    Short of a constitutional crisis of the first magnitude, the two-Party system is not going away. It may be that the Democratic Party would be marginally easier to redeem than the Republicans, and it is pretty to think that, but 2006 and 2008 did not induce change. And, I honestly wonder whether constitutional crisis is not inevitable at this point, assuming that the broken Republic doesn't just crumble away into authoritarianism, as seems likely on current trends. Brad DeLong's and Mark Kleiman's plea — friends don't let friends vote Republican — does not seem all that reality-based to me, at the moment. Worrying about Susan Collins' role seems like staring at the bark-stripping of a tactical tree precisely to avoid seeing the strategic forest clear-cut. I can understand it as a way of avoiding the sense of hopelessness I feel, I guess, but ymmv.

  4. "The division that counts is not one of partisan identification, but whether you are for corporate business, or against; that determines whether you are part of the ruling classes, or politically helpless and hopeless."

    Yes, exactly. It is amazing to see this in action when you have it clarified in your mind. I finally figured out how to make some family members see it, and the scales have dropped away.

    But anyway, nice little quasi-essay Bruce.

  5. Reagan proved that facts don't matter – "Facts are stupid things" may have been a slip of the tongue, but it does define the Republican worldview. Then in 2000 came Scalia et al. to prove that corruption of the most visible and obvious sort doesn't matter either – and the country shrugged.

    In other words, what Bruce Wilder said.

  6. Bruce, I feel much of what you're saying. I'm not sure money is driving these bad ideas. It definitely has a hand in the game, and is certainly driving things in Washington.

    But there is also just a long and thick tradition of right-wing fantasy that a large portion of Americans can't seem to get enough of. It's a quasi-religious, mythology of insular egotism that has been both our blessing and our curse. The corporate class' lobbyists and their intellectual apologists in the media simply tap that artery and its star-spangled goodnight.

    It feels cheap but I can't help but refer here to the current Messiah of this attitude, Sarah Palin. She is a "real" American in more ways than she knows. She's selling, but they're buying.

    Yet their star will fade and progressivism will return. Although as you point out, things have become so bad structurally that it may take something a lot more severe that what we've seen the past few years to break though the BS. My guess though is that the fight will go on, tide to tide, as long as there are enough of us to work the margins. That's how my Democratic vote feels, anyway – marginal but crucial.

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