progressives

Election 2010: Post-Mortem

UPDATED 11/05/10

This is a followup on my election-morning predictions, a prognosis about the next two years, and a diagnosis of the “progressive” disease.

I expected the GOP to gain eight seats in the Senate. But that prediction ran aground on the narrow wins by Democrats Michael Bennet and Harry Reid in Colorado and Nevada. The race in Washington hasn’t been decided, but it seems that Patty Murray will retain her seat.  The Alaska seat will wind up in GOP hands — it’s just a question of whose hands. So, when the dust settles, the GOP will have gained 6 seats and the Dems will retain a majority. That’s as good as it was likely to get. And it’s good enough, because with 47 seats (and only two or three RINOs in the mix) the GOP will command a cloture-proof minority.

Things turned out better in the House. I expected the GOP to end up with 237 seats. But when the dust settles on 10 9 undecided races, the GOP probably will hold between 239 seats (the current count) and 242 seats (adding 3 races now led by GOP candidates). Needless to say, the GOP will command the agenda in the House. The incoming tide of new Republican members will put a lot of pressure on GOP leaders to undo what Pelosi and company wrought. The stumbling blocks will be the Democrat-controlled Senate and the veto pen of BHO.

Republicans gained a lot of ground in the States, as indicated by the pickup of 12 governorships. (The Democrat pickup in California makes little difference in cloud-cuckoo-land, where the main difference between Arnold Schwarzenegger and his successor, Moonbeam Brown, is their accents.) Greater GOP strength at the State level will mean two things: more resistance to the expansion of federal power, and redistricting of the House in ways favorable to future Republican prospects.

The next two years at the “seat of government” (SOG) in D.C. will be filled with GOP initiatives to roll back the Obama agenda, name-calling by Democrats, and (I hope) gridlock combined with some rollback of Obamacare.

The next two years also will be filled with rationalizations by “progressives,” who — in so many words — will blame the backwardness of the American electorate for the events of November 2. “Progressives,” like their putative leader in the White House, already have adopted the myth that things would have turned out differently if only they had found a way to get their “message” across. Well, they did get their “message” across:

  • Pork disguised as stimulus, which did not and will not stimulate because the economy isn’t a hydraulic mechanism that responds automatically to pump-priming.
  • Financial regulations that will make it harder for Americans to borrow money.
  • A Rube Goldberg plan for reforming the health care “system” that will make it harder for Americans to obtain insurance and less rewarding for doctors and other providers to deliver medical services.

Such is “progressivism” at work: Good intentions (to put the best face on it) thwarted by unintended consequences because “progressives” believe that “hope and change” trump the realities of economic (and social behavior) — realities that “the masses” are able to grasp, if only viscerally.

Moreover, there was — and is — the disdain in which “progressives” hold “the masses,” who exist (in the “progressive” imagination) to be talked down to and led by the hand to the promised land of economic and social bliss — as it is envisioned by “progressives.”

I have news for “progressives.” When you talk down to most adults — and even to a lot of children — they quickly perceive three things: (a) you don’t respect their intelligence and (b) you are therefore trying to do something that’s against their interest. You really lose them when you promise things that they know (or suspect) will cost them liberty as well as money.

“Progressives” seem to believe in economic stability at any price, including the price of liberty and prosperity. A lot of “the masses” aren’t buying it. Good for them.

Color Me Unsurprised…

…by this, from Daniel Klein:

Zogby researcher Zeljka Buturovic and I considered the 4,835 respondents’ (all American adults) answers to eight survey questions about basic economics. We also asked the respondents about their political leanings: progressive/very liberal; liberal; moderate; conservative; very conservative; and libertarian….

How did the six ideological groups do overall? Here they are, best to worst, with an average number of incorrect responses from 0 to 8: Very conservative, 1.30; Libertarian, 1.38; Conservative, 1.67; Moderate, 3.67; Liberal, 4.69; Progressive/very liberal, 5.26….

The survey also asked about party affiliation. Those responding Democratic averaged 4.59 incorrect answers. Republicans averaged 1.61 incorrect, and Libertarians 1.26 incorrect. (“Are You Smarter Than a Fifth-Grader?The Wall Street Journal, June 8, 2010)

Part of the explanation, of course, is that “liberals” and “progressives” derive their view of the world from their emotions: “It ought to be that way, so that’s the way it is.” Another part of the explanation is that “liberals” and “progressives” just aren’t as smart or rational as they like to think they are:

IQ and Personality
IQ and Politics
The Right Is Smarter Than the Left
The Psychology of Extremism

I wouldn’t mind it if the hubris of “liberals” and “progressives” led them to a nasty end, but they have acquired the power to take the rest of us with them.