An introduction to American politics

Michael Bérubé explains it all in a 12-step cycle we are doomed to repeat.

1. Democratic president is elected after disastrous Republican administration messes things up bad. Liberals rejoice, hoping that their long national nightmare is now over.

2. Democratic president turns out to be liberal–centrist fellow with some degree of cultural conservatism and willingness to echo Republican talking points on a handful of issues.

3. Democratic president meets with solid Republican opposition in Congress as well as various forms of obstructionism from members of his own party.

4. Democratic president gives in to Republicans repeatedly on a handful of symbolic (and therefore important to politically active voters) issues, appointments, regulations, etc.

5. Left wing of Democratic party erupts in outrage at sellout Judas stealth-Republican president.

6. Portion of left wing of Democratic party leaves party, goes home, fantasizes about awesome third party that will destroy the system and rebuild it from scratch.

You will have to go here for 7 through 12.

3 thoughts on “An introduction to American politics

  1. One really needs to read Berube’s explanation — at first, he sounds very much like a tiresome hippie-puncher. If almost everyone got his point wrong, maybe he should reconsider a bit of his emphasis.

    Anyways, Berube’s point is that Dem Presidents always destroy themselves, not that liberals are awful for wanting them not to.

  2. I think you see a kind of this problem in any democracy that has elections between the terms of the administration.
    Usually, the party of which the president is a member loses in the mid-terms. This outlook might convince the president to pander to the other side already, but once the mid-terms are lost, it makes governing much harder.
    I am from Germany and we have a very similar election cycle with the state elections of the 16 states spread out evenly over the 4 years of the parliamentary (and thus the chancellor’s) term. Because the states appoint the members of the second chamber (“Bundesrat”), these elections have a direct impact on federal law-making. Whoever is in power at the federal level tends to lose the elections at the state level.