Monday, November 05, 2018

Who Do I Want to Win?

It is the natural question to ask on the night before the election. The emotional answer is that I want the Republicans to do better than the polls predict. Humans naturally see the world as us vs them and while Trump doesn't fit very well in my picture of us, the Democrats are pretty clearly them. 

My rational answer, as before the previous election, is that I prefer a divided government, since things the government does are likely to make the world worse, not better. The polls suggest that the Democrats will end up in control of the House, the Republicans of the Senate. That means nothing will happen unless both sides agree to it, which at the moment does not seem likely. So it is probably the least bad outcome.

But I can't help remembering the story of someone explaining American politics to a group of visiting Russians:
In America, there are two parties, the evil party and the stupid party. I am a proud member of the stupid party. Once in a while, the two parties get together to do something that is both evil and stupid.

We call that bipartisanship.


At 7:08 AM, November 06, 2018, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi David. My worldview is closely aligned with yours. However, my instinctive desire is, and always has been, for the Democrats to crush the Republicans. I find this discrepancy interesting, and wonder how a Democrat vs. Republican poll would turn out in the libertarian / anarchist tent. (I suspect I'm in a minority here.) It's interesting and somewhat disturbing how long a shadow is cast by ancient and long-abandoned tribalism. (Apologies for the anonymous comment; at the moment I'm not comfortable broadcasting my political views on the internet.)

At 7:21 AM, November 06, 2018, Anonymous William H. Stoddard said...


Back in the previous decade, I leaned to the view that the Democratics were the civilized party. I liked Obama's explanation of why legally compelling people to purchase health insurance wasn't a sound policy (offered during his campaign against Clinton), and I wasn't impressed with McCain; so I voted for Obama in 2008. Six months later he had reversed himself and was advocating the individual mandate. Since that time, my policy has been never to vote for a Democrat; I expect to maintain it until the entire generation of Democrats who put through the Affordable Care Act have left politics. That doesn't mean I will vote for the Republican; some Republicans are unspeakable. I may sit an election out.

On the other hand, I'm thinking of voting for De Leon (a Democrat) rather than Feinstein (a Democrat) in California's senate race; after Feinstein's behavior during the Kavanaugh hearings, I'm thinking it might be a case of "pour encourager les autres." I'll have to decide in less than an hour now . . .

At 9:43 AM, November 06, 2018, Blogger August said...

Unfortunately, considering the current climate, they'd likely do something stupid and evil to the Russians...

I'm hoping for something conclusively considered a Trump win. I don't think many of these GOP characters are really on board with Trump, so I don't know how much of a win it will be for him. However, a demoralized left is useful.

It is as simply as that children's game 'king of the hill.' People keep trying to go up that hill, so they can be king. The only way to stop the game being played is for most people to get discouraged, go home and do something else. Then, maybe, while no one is looking, we can take away the hill.

At 1:31 PM, November 06, 2018, Blogger Jared Imbler said...

One aspect of our current political climate that I find peculiar is that the Republican-controlled House and Senate are merely an extension of Trump in all but name. (Nunes, Rohrbacher, Gowdy come to mind as especially lapdog-like.)

Perfect alignment of the separate branches (definitely 2/3, arguably 3/3) of government toward one ideology, at the expense of the independent power of that branch, seems to be an existential failure of a "checks and balances" model.

I'm curious to hear your thoughts on this.

At 6:39 AM, November 07, 2018, Blogger RP Long said...

The older I get, the more I view my political decisions on the margins. This means that in most cases I simply do not vote, since the marginal gain is far too close to zero, and is often negative.

But the big senate race in Texas offered a more practical illustration of my marginal view. The top three most important issues to me are: #1 (anti)war, #2 health care, and #3 immigration. The Texas senate race pit a pro-war, anti-Obamacare, anti-immigration R against a pro-war, pro-Obamacare, pro-immigration D. So, for me, it was a choice between whether I wanted marginally better health care or marginally better immigration policy; war policy would not change marginally no matter how I voted.

I greatly disliked both candidates, but since I rank health care ahead of immigration, I'm more pleased with - or marginally less horrified by - a Cruz win than an O'Roarke win.

At 10:19 AM, November 07, 2018, Blogger Unknown said...

I do not have much to add except to point to the originator of that delightful phrase. As I thought I remembered and as some quick googling confirmed, it was Sen. Alan Simpson (R-WY). This confirmed my opinion of him as being an above-average Senator.

At 1:06 PM, November 07, 2018, Anonymous Doctor Mist said...


the Republican-controlled House and Senate are merely an extension of Trump in all but name

Whut? So I guess Obamacare was replaced and the wall was built? I must have missed that.

At 3:11 PM, November 07, 2018, Blogger David Friedman said...

I was unhappy that Dana Rohrabacher lost, not because of his views on Trump but because fifty years ago he was a west coast libertarian troubador (and babe magnet) and friend of mine. There is a verse from a song of his at the beginning of my first book.

That aside, I think the result of the election was about optimal, since it gives us divided government.

At 4:32 PM, November 07, 2018, Blogger TheVidra said...

Jared, I think there are other powers in government which are not part of the official 3 branches. The bureaucracy is one, and it leans heavily Democrat (see voting patterns in Washington DC and the nearest suburbs). The military may be Republican or libertarian in outlook, in general. So there will definitely be a tug of war within the government as well. The more dangerous thing is that all 3 official branches are dominated by lawyers, who presumably went to similar schools and have a pretty similar outlook on life and the law - regardless of their political affiliation.

At 4:34 PM, November 07, 2018, Blogger TheVidra said...

Ryan, I don't see how Cruz is tough on immigration, being a Hispanic (sort of) himself, and having been accused in the past of being way too lenient on the subject. He may have rebranded himself recently, for electoral reasons, but I doubt he is the Trump "build the wall" type.

At 9:55 PM, November 08, 2018, Blogger engleberg11@ said...

I think you are right about bipartisanship.


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