Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Let’s Not Get Carried Away - Note for a discussion, "E Pluribus Unum? What Keeps the United States United."

David Brooks, New York Times (June 20)

image (not from article) from
There’s just something worrisome every time we find ourselves replacing
politics of democracy with the politics of scandal. In democracy, the issues count,
and you try to win by persuasion. You recognize that your opponents are legitimate,
that they will always be there and that some form of compromise is inevitable.
In the politics of scandal, at least since Watergate, you don’t have to engage in
persuasion or even talk about issues. Political victories are won when you destroy
your political opponents by catching them in some wrongdoing. You get seduced by
the delightful possibility that your opponent will be eliminated. Politics is simply
about moral superiority and personal destruction.
The politics of scandal is delightful for cable news. It’s hard to build ratings
arguing about health insurance legislation. But it’s easy to build ratings if you are a
glorified Court TV, if each whiff of scandal smoke generates hours of “Breaking
News” intensity and a deluge of speculation from good­looking former prosecutors.
The politics is great for those forces responsible for the lawyerization of
American life. It takes power out of the hands of voters and elected officials and puts
power in the hands of prosecutors and defense attorneys.
The politics of scandal drives a wedge through society. [JB emphasis] Political elites get swept up in the scandals. Most voters don’t really care.
Donald Trump rose peddling the politics of scandal — oblivious to policy,
spreading insane allegations about birth certificates and other things — so maybe it’s
just that he gets swallowed by it. ...

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