Federal Inertia July 18, 2007 | 12:11 pm

Check out A Misconception by Pessimists by Philip Slater.

Consider the opening volley:

Many of my colleagues on the left are never so happy as when they can proclaim that things are getting worse. They’re addicted to the tragic role of the voice crying in the wilderness, and won’t ally themselves with anyone who might contaminate their more-left-than-thou image.

He proceeds to go on to lay out some fairly convincing arguments about why Washington, D.C. is such a hard place for Progressives to actually make progress. That stuff is interesting, but largely unsurprising, and the list seems far from complete (for instance, the risk of differentiation vs. the safety of obscurity isn’t mentioned).

What really gets me is the following quote:

It’s well-understood by modern business that new ideas always come from those uncommitted to the status quo–from outsiders. Why, then, do people on the left persist in expecting social change to be brought about by Washington insiders? Washington is the absolute last place to look for new ideas. By the time a new idea percolates down to Washington and is proclaimed as such, it’s old hat to the rest of us, and by the time it’s been implemented it’s so watered down as to be merely a slight variation on an old one.

One of the things that I like about MN’s state legislature is that it’s a part-time gig: it only makes $30k/year and most legislators are employed outside of the legislative body (cite). This means that the people writing the laws are living in the real world, and actually deal with people day-to-day who aren’t partisan sycophants. These are citizen legislators, and I think that’s the kind of people the Founding Fathers had in mind when they drafted the Constitution.

[Listening to: Telegram (From a Backseat Driver) - Flim & The BB's - New Pants (04:36)]


  • Brian

    One of the things that always impressed me about Howard Dean was his personal history. Before he was a politician, he was a doctor. But before he was a doctor, he was an investment banker. Now, there are two reasons I can think of to become a doctor. One is financial- doctors make a lot of a money. Not as much as investment bankers, but more than, say, fast food employees do. The other is a powerful need to help people. Now, you don’t quit being an investment banker to become a doctor for the money, which leaves me with one option.

    Of course, Howard Dean was insane, angry, and unelectable. How do I know this? The corporate media told me this. Repeatedly.

    The corporate media is so insanely opposed to any form of real liberalism or progressivism that anyone who looks like they might even adopt those positions is smeared to a fair-thee-well. See the ongoing smear of Edwards and the $300 haircut. Or the Cowardly Kerry, or the Lying Gore. Or Hillary the dike and the socialized medicine.

    With this sort of media environment, I don’t expect any progress.

    That said, in a democracy, looking to your government for leadership doesn’t work. Dictators lead (generally right off the cliff, but that’s a different argument), elected representatives follow. Specially, they follow we, the people.