Monday, August 01, 2011

Perils Of Pragmatism

A pretty disappointing end to the American debt ceiling fight. Despite consistent polling that showed overwhelming support for raising taxes on the rich- as well as the GOP taking more of the "blame" for the impasse- in the end, it was Obama that blinked and in so doing rewarded rigid ideologues for their irresponsible stance.

A dangerous precedent has been set, reasonable compromise has been replaced by the notion that stubborn and reckless resolve can extract concessions, because others are forced to accept the burden of consequence. In this debt debate, the Tea Party members were prepared to go "all the way", prepared to throw the American and international economies into chaos, ignoring potential costs, consequence was left for others to consider. What is alarming, this fanatical resolve wins the day, because their inability to embrace pragmatic solutions, forces reasonable people to fill that void. The result of this dynamic, Obama losses, while we have a deal, his understanding of consequence, his recognition that a deal must be made, was ultimately his undoing in this process. Acting in this way is responsible, however when the other side doesn't reciprocate, we are left with a "cave" scenario, simply as a function of necessity.

It's important to look at this issue as a process, because it provides a new template for political obstruction. The Obama administration played all the classic cards, used the bully pulpit, a fairly effective pr campaign, every lever used to exert pressure and force a deal. Where the usual plot diverted, the antagonist failed to be a rational partner, it didn't react as thought, public opinion irrelevant, like a extremist religious entity, it embraced the apocalypse, bathed itself in it's rigidity, as though virtue. The final lesson, this intransigence will be victorious when squared off against moderate pragmatism. Not a deal in the traditional sense, but people working around fanatism, which ultimately emboldens the behaviour. Others are left to deal responsibily, and in so doing compromise their principles, while those most offside with mainstream opinion achieve their goals.

There will be future "standoffs", and unfortunately the lesson learned, the precedent here, is that you can abdicate your responsibilities and ultimately declare victory. Simply dig in your heels, put your hands over your ears and realize that others will appreciate consequence and act. In this instance, a nation was held hostage and to avoid bloodshed, ransom was paid. It really is a simple, and SCARY, as that....

5 comments:

Dame said...

extremist religious entity,yes that is what they really are ...
democracy is practically nonfunctioning .
if the public doesn't realise this and wants to save it it will be dead ..
I am very pessimistic .

Steve V said...

I'm worried as well, in the sense these TP people will now go back to the voters and say they kept their word, stayed true to their principles.

Joe said...

Here's a "cut your coat to suit your cloth" kind of question: How much government should there be and how much should that government cost in a percent of GDP?

CathiefromCanada said...

The positive thing about the deal was that it includes a deem and pass on the 2012 budget. So chances are there won't be a government shutdown in September.
Overall, it has also shown the world that Americans cannot be trusted. Yes, they demonstrated this under Bush, but the election of Obama gave the world hope. Now we all realize that Obama is only as effective as his dysfunctional political system permits. I'm not sure whether this is a positive outcome or not.

Tof KW said...

Regardless of the debt ceiling deal passing we are now about to witness the decline of the US dollar as the world reserve currency, much like the British pound did post-1918. The US has damaged itself enough now that they are in the same position as the UK was post WWI; a creditor nation on paper but a basket case in reality. The worst part is unlike the UK, the USA's problems were all self-inflicted.

By the way no one should take any delight in this. The reduction of US economic and political influence in the world will leave a power vacuum, and these periods in history are never good. I certainly hope I'm wrong in my predictions.