Politics is a Bore

In my prior post I said politics was boring. What I should have said is that it is borish. Or at least a lot of the folks involved are. Here’s a quick round-up of three recent stories that just make me shake my head in bewilderment. The only way I can prevent my mind from grinding to a halt as I try to comprehend these events is to put them to music. You all know the songs, so feel free to sing along.

1. Glenn Beck: We Built This City
Glenn Beck wants to build a planned city. In Seeing Like a State, political scientist James Scott calls this “high modernism.” The high modernist vision is one of central planning, comprehensive top-down design of social organization, a massive social engineering project that seeks to banish spontaneous order, self-organization, and individuality. It is the pinnacle of the technocratic ideal. It’s not inherently anti-conservative–Scott notes that it transcends the liberal/conservative division–but it’s radically anti the American conservative tradition. The unanswered question, though, is which sucks more, Starship or Beck?

Citizens United: The Wall
CU has filed an amicus brief urging SCOTUS to uphold DOMA. The primary argument against DOMA’s constitutionality is that it violated the Equal Protection clause of the 14th Amendment, but as CU notes in their brief, the 14th Amendment was written to apply to the states, not the federal government. Except the Court has ruled that it does apply to the federal government, in the case of Bolling v. Sharpe, which ruled that segregation in Washington, D.C. schools–created, funded, and governed by the federal government–was unconstitutional. Overturning decades of precedent, the Court declared that “it would unthinkable that the same Constitution would impose a lesser duty on the Federal Government.” CU actually does have a very logical legal argument here, but conservatives hitching their wagon to a claim that the federal government has constitutional authority to discriminate against minorities seems a bit tone deaf. Altogether now, “We don’t need no integration.”

National Review: Sympathy for the Devil
Poe’s and Godwin’s laws hooked up to make sweet sweet love as the National Review‘s Eliana Johnson rushed to defend the Nazis after Obama condemned the “senseless violence” of the Holocaust. Au contraire, writes Ms. Johnson,

Nazism may have been an ideology to which the United States was — and to which the president is — implacably opposed, but it is hardly “senseless.” By the early 1930s, the Nazi party had hundreds of thousands of devoted members and repeatedly attracted a third of the votes in German elections; its political leaders campaigned on a platform comprising 25 non-senseless points, including the “unification of all Germans,” a demand for “land and territory for the sustenance of our people,” and an assertion that “no Jew can be a member of the race.” Suffice it to say, many sensible Germans were persuaded.

Unfortunately, her editors cut her closing line:

I rode a tank
Held a general’s rank
When the blitzkrieg raged
And the bodies stank

About James Hanley

James Hanley is former Associate Professor of Political Science at Adrian College and currently an independent scholar.
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7 Responses to Politics is a Bore

  1. lumbercartel says:

    And Who do you have in mind for We Won’t Get Fooled Again?

  2. Murali says:

    If Glen Beck wants to build his own city and if he builds one good enough to attract people to come and live there, I say good for him. I skimmed through the whole thing, but the fact that a particular city was planned falls pretty far down my libertarian priorities. It is what happens after the plan that kinda matters. IIRC, seeing like a state is more about rules and institutions destroying information than architecture. Is he going to allow rules to evolve organically or is he going to be dogmatic about stuff? If we think Charter cities are a good response to the ills of democratic governance, than someone is going to have to plan that charter city (at least initially) They are not going to just grow on their own.

  3. James Hanley says:

    Murali, he can build any city he wants and I won’t object. I’m just noting the irony that he’s centrally planning it in detail. He has the whole design drawn up, and has even pre-determined which businesses will be allowed and which won’t.

  4. Matty says:

    It’s not inherently anti-conservative–Scott notes that it transcends the liberal/conservative division–but it’s radically anti the American conservative tradition.

    But possibly well in line with the American utopian tradition. From the religious colonies (yes I know not all were religious) to the intellectual defences of the revolution and perhaps most significantly for Beck the Mormon relocation to Utah there has always been a strain in American culture that believes they can make things radically better.

  5. James Hanley says:

    One of the best Simpsons moments ever.
    Homer: “Remember when we used to make out to this hymn?”

  6. Major Zed says:

    Re Johnson: The Mothers of Invention / It Can’t Happen Here.

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