Dear Diary 

The DC governing duopoly is keeping down the common man, denying the common voices and views

There's a common discourse on the far-left:

Dems and GOP are the same, two heads of the governing duopoly, because look! they agree on 90% of the issues, such as capitalism, free trade, etc! And they are also ignoring critical issues like vaccines causing autism and chemtrails being mind control! It's all just a corporatist oligarchy looking to keep down the common man, to deny him his voice!

To which the sane response is:

Dems and GOP agree on things like capitalism and global trade (and the time of day and the color of the sky) because those things are good beyond any reasonable dispute, and people who reject them tend to be ignorant idiots. We have a representative democracy specifically so that we elect representatives who wouldn't be ignorant idiots, who would actually make sane decisions. The fact that idiotic populist opinions are largely ignored in DC, is a sign that the representative democracy) is working!

The reality is that Dems and GOP are genuinely at each other's throats, locked in a battle both for power and for their respective visions of what USA is and whither it must go -- which is a good and healthy part of a democratic process in a free society.

So when Dems and GOP agree on something, it's probably not because there's a vast conspiracy afoot, but because this 'something' is really obvious beyond reasonable debate.

This applies to both the left and the right; and the people who bemoan 'the Beltway consensus' (the term 'the Washington Consensus' was taken) tend to be the people who resent the fact that their patently crazy views find no interest in DC.

The reality is that most people have no to next-to-no clue about policy issues. We all wish it were otherwise, but it's simply a brute fact of life. This is why representative democracy exists in the first place -- to prevent crazy-but-common (due to their cognitive convenience) views from finding their way into the space of actual policy discourse. The alternative to this -- politicians exploiting populism for votes and power -- is a direct way to ochlocracy, precisely the danger the representative democracy was supposed to avert.

In short, the existence of the essential consensus in DC on basic issues (free trade is good, free market is good, basic welfare is good, global warming is happening, etc.) is an indication that the system is working; and if your views deviate from this bipartisan consensus (again, we are talking only the most basic, essential 'big' issues which find little partisan dissent), chances are that your views are crazy.

This isn't to say that ALL of GOP and Dems must agree, in order to form the consensus. Fringe politicians regularly exploit populist resentment against the consensus when no actual policy dangers are posed by such exploitation -- e.g. lefty politicians complaining about NAFTA, or righty politicians complaining about Global Warming. However, when it comes to actually making policy decisions and bearing their consequences, the consensus manifests; or rather, what manifests then, IS 'The Beltway Consensus'. Which is of course not infallible, but by and large, it's a pretty good 'filter' to separate legitimate policy debate from ignorant craziness.



P.S. The above has to be amended by noting that in the last few years, GOP has been more and more embracing rank populism (precisely the people who complain about the DC consensus), so the presence of non-consensus congressmen among the GOP ranks has been growing lately, to the point of actually infecting the GOP policy-making apparatus. Hopefully GOP gets over its populism infection, and develops an immunity soon.

07:09:39 on 03/30/16 by danilche - Category: Policy

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