IMPLICATIONS OF THE PENDING MASSACHUSETTS SURPRISE
The Clash of Narratives-
WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?
Crafting the dominant narrative out of the latest developments is the game of the media, the punditoria and the political class. The pending Massachusetts surprise poses a real problem for the political elites because it potentially challenges all of the narratives. As a result we’ll see a concerted attempt at “narrative containment” over the next few weeks. But it won’t take until a new narrative emerges.
Once a narrative takes root on center stage, it becomes a self-perpetuating filter. On the eve of the Massachusetts upset, we are at a narrative tipping point and the pundits, opinion shakers – and those whose careers will live or die when the new narrative takes hold are scrambling for position.
Spin is the art of warping the meaning of current events to fit the dominant narrative. What is about to take place is beyond mere spin, because there is, as yet no new dominant narrative. [And this will happen whether Brown wins or loses by a small margin in this ‘bluest of blue” states.]
PAUL KRUGMAN, the liberal economist-turned-political columnist, is fiercely clinging to the “liberal elites know best” narrative, even at the expense of the destruction of the Democratic Party.
DAVID BROOKS, the New York Times’ ever-thoughtful embedded quasi-conservative, elite-minded Obama-fan, is struggling to craft a “the people are sometimes almost-right even when they are Right” narrative out of this.
Two more cautious voices from the NATIONAL REVIEW are included for “balance”. My own views are outlined at the end.
THE NEW YORK TIMES
What Didn’t Happen
Lately many people have been second-guessing the Obama administration’s political strategy. The conventional wisdom seems to be that President Obama tried to do too much — in particular, that he should have put health care on one side and focused on the economy.
It’s important to remember, also, how important health care reform is to the Democratic base. Some activists have been left disillusioned by the compromises made to get legislation through the Senate — but they would have been even more disillusioned if Democrats had simply punted on the issue.
And politics should be about more than winning elections. Even if health care reform loses Democrats’ votes (which is questionable), it’s the right thing to do.
The pragmatic Leviathan
[OBAMA’S] has become a voracious pragmatism. Driven by circumstances and self-confidence, the president has made himself the star performer in the national drama.
He is no ideologue, but over the past year he has come to seem like the sovereign on the cover of “Leviathan” — the brain of the nation to which all the cells in the body and the nervous system must report and defer.
Many Democrats, as always, are caught in their insular liberal information loop. They think the polls are bad simply because the economy is bad. They tell each other health care is unpopular because the people aren’t sophisticated enough to understand it. Some believe they can still pass health care even if their candidate, Martha Coakley, loses the Senate race in Massachusetts on Tuesday.
That, of course, would be political suicide. It would be the act of a party so arrogant, elitist and contemptuous of popular wisdom that it would not deserve to govern. Marie Antoinette would applaud, but voters would rage.
The American people are not always right, but their basic sense of equilibrium is worthy of the profoundest respect.
THE NATIONAL REVIEW
The Scott Heard Round the World
[THE] genius Dems succeeded in making their own assumptions about one-party rule a very potent secondary issue. Very foolishly, Obama both underlined the regal hauteur of the Massachusetts machine — and simultaneously nationalized the election by portraying it as a referendum on the Hopeychange. If Martha now loses, he can’t plead it’s nothing to do with him.
The Perfect Storm Hits
A Brown win will have Republicans believing that they can win anywhere, and that confidence will be wonderful heading into the midterms. It’s worth remembering that a Republican can win anywhere with that perfect storm: a strong candidate, a weak and clumsy opponent, independents fed up with the status quo, and a lucky break or two along the way.
B U T … N E X T
THE COMING POPULIST REFORMATION
The best kept little secret is that American populism is more intelligent and better informed than any prior populist movement in history.
We are seeing a set of events the onset of which I’ve been predicting since 2006. [See http://jaygaskill.com/newPPP.htm Populism 101 –Party, Polity and Populism].
The most potent populist movements in history have been propelled by the middle classes. Nothing has changed in that respect. The American ruling democrat elites have lost the middle class, but the republicans haven’t yet credibly filled that vacuum.
In reality, the staggering scope of the economic and geopolitical problems facing the US requires an entirely new level of leadership, one that combines clarity, candor and common sense in a way that incorporates poplar wisdom and elevates policy. This is a tall order indeed and why: WE NEED AN AMERICAN RENAISSANCE.
I’ll have a great deal more to say about this over the coming weeks and months. The barest conceptual outline follows.
ARCHITECTURE OF AN AMERICAN RENAISSANCE
 Inclusive growth through shared freedom and responsibility;
 Rejection of identity politics;
 Robust protection of personal liberty and national safety;
 Creation and production vs. repression and appropriation;
 Protection of family stability;
 Political honesty and accountability.
PROMOTIONAL CRITERIA FOR CANDIDATES
PERSONAL: Likeable & intelligent with gifted communication skills.
SUBSTANTIVE: “Gets” the five themes, lives the 6th, has an attractive policy agenda and some policy accomplishments.
RESUME: Both government and private sector experience, solid character references and an upward life experience vector.