Friday, February 22, 2013

Ideological Betrayal, Left and Right

I noticed a recent article in Mother Jones, The Seduction of Paul Wellstone, about a politician who took office as "the Senator from the left" but apparently failed to live up to his supporters' hopes. The implication of the article is that such a failure is a likely, but not inevitable, result of the collision between ideological commitment and the politics and culture of Congress.

The article did not discuss the issue from the other side, Republican politicians who started outside the usual range of their party. No doubt one could find examples of the same pattern. On the other hand, Ron Paul provides a striking example in the other direction, a libertarian Republican who did, mutatis mutandis, what Wellstone's initial supporters hoped he would do—remained true to his principles, and made a serious effort to raise public support for them.

It remains to be seen whether other libertarians, most obviously Rand Paul, will follow his path or Wellstone's.


12 Comments:

At 10:37 AM, February 22, 2013, Blogger August said...

Dennis Kucinich is one I'd call principled, even though he's on the left, and I think his own party has managed to get him out.
Traficant was great fun, but they put him in jail for stuff they all do. Most of the 'tea party' candidates have hit D.C. and compromised miserably. I don't vote at all, and I rather vote for crazy if forced to than any of the 'serious' candidates.

 
At 10:45 AM, February 22, 2013, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Even more interesting to me is when supporters of a particular candidate completely change their own deeply held ideological views when their favored politician does the opposite of his campaign promises.

I started working in academia during the middle of the Bush administration and the faculty/staff listservs were constantly flooded with discussions on the evils of Bush's foreign policy. Fast forward to now and those same people support and defend similar policies when enacted by the current administration.

 
At 9:20 PM, February 22, 2013, Anonymous js290 said...

Anon, "changing ideological views" gives your useless colleagues too much credit. "Change" implies understanding a flaw in one's syllogism. To them, there are no ideological premises, only an ad hominem conclusion of disliking someone perceived to be from another tribe.

 
At 10:03 PM, February 22, 2013, Anonymous A6 said...

Libertarianism is a wonderful thing. Alas, the greatest threats to the world's liberties are Russia, China, Iran, North Korea, and so on. The Pauls seem to feel that if we left them alone, they'd leave us (and our friends) alone. If only we could construct a non-destructive experiment.

 
At 3:08 AM, February 23, 2013, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kucinich got his start by bankrupting Cleveland. Create a crisis, say you did it for your principles, say 'what side are you on?' He deserved to be head of the DNC.

 
At 4:15 PM, February 23, 2013, Anonymous Ted Levy said...

A6 seems to think he is forced to pay his taxes to Russia, his business is overly regulated by China, Iran prevents his gay friends from marrying, and North Korea may soon invade with its terrifying army of half-starved conscripts. I guess this goes to show that the US government IS very good at one thing: Propaganda...

 
At 4:17 PM, February 23, 2013, Anonymous Ted Levy said...

I'm pretty comfortable that Rand Paul will not follow in the footsteps of Paul Wellstone...especially if he avoids flying in small planes.

 
At 9:44 AM, February 27, 2013, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Russ Fiengold was principled (only Senator to vote against the Patriot Act), sadly he lost his seat in 2010.

 
At 8:30 AM, February 28, 2013, Blogger Don said...

I think Rand Paul will do just fine, but it is important to remember that he is NOT his father. That will disappoint some people. I like both father and son. But certain critics -- left-wing libertarians -- are already starting the smear campaign against Rand Paul (warmonger, Zionist lackey, etc.) because he doesn't live to replicate his father exactly (note their barely-concealed hatred of individualism). Worse, Rand Paul might actually have a chance to shake up a presidential race, if not actually win. To some libertarians, success = betrayal.

 
At 10:56 AM, March 02, 2013, Blogger Czar of Dance said...

It is interesting how so many think that politicians should stick to their principles, when the incentives are the opposite. Committee-based organizations thrive on concessions on the part of the participants, else it becomes a dead-locked organization.

Add in monopoly on law and taxation for revenue, and the organization has income whether or not it is performing efficiently and can function while imposing serious negative externalities. Thus, I am not surprised when a politician doesn't stick to his/her principles; the incentives in the organization have nothing to do with adherence to principles. If anything, they are incentivized to rent-seek, since they have no interest in the organization.

 
At 12:11 AM, March 15, 2013, Blogger Travis said...

Intel we demand that lobbying be deemed illegal a long with all other forms of bribery nothing will change the banks will continue to buy who ever they want.

 
At 4:06 PM, March 16, 2013, Blogger Joseph Miller said...

Travis:

1. What legislative body can we count on to pass laws that are contrary to their interests?

2. Even if there were any desire for politicians to do so, what should we consider bribery? Are campaign donations bribery? I think they must be. But if so, there would be no way to protect our society from the whims of a majority. If 51% of people had a mild distaste for guns, no matter how vehemently the 49% protests, they would have no hope.

I think the only solution will be to limit the scope of the laws that can be passed as much as possible, which brings us back to problem 1 :)

 

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