Friday, October 31, 2008

DEBATE AT LOLITA BAR: Yesterday Was the Election: What's Next?

Five notes on the election — and our big day-after panel about it:

I. The Debate

Attend “Yesterday Was the Election: What’s Next?” — this coming Wednesday, November 5, at 8pm (basement level of 266 Broome St. at the corner of Broome and Allen St., one block south of the Delancey St. subway stop on the F, J, M, and Z).

This panel of night-after-the-election reactions and recriminations will feature Abe Greenwald (online editor at Commentary), Ben Geyerhahn (Democratic consultant to candidates and non-profits), and Marty Beckerman (author of the hilarious book Dumbocracy) — plus moderator Michel Evanchik and host Todd Seavey.

II. Kelo Fragments, Live!

Your host may put in a brief good word for prior Debates at Lolita Bar attender and current Libertarian presidential candidate Bob Barr at the end, even if Barr is not elected president (the polls can be slightly inaccurate!).

I will also unveil to the audience historic political relics that should not be forgotten in all this: actual pieces of the Kelo house from the infamous eminent domain Supreme Court decision.

With New York governor Paterson quoting Ayn Rand in congressional testimony this week — and sometimes opposing eminent domain — those pieces of pink-painted wood may not yet be as irrelevant as some would think. (And that Spitzer scandal keeps on giving.)

III. Aid for the Ignorant (and That Means All of Us)

If you’re one of those baffling and baffled still-undecided voters — or just have no idea who the minor-office candidates are in your area — this site Julia Kamin helped set up might be of assistance: a National Voter Guide.

IV. Strange Bedfellows

As if this election didn’t already frighten me enough for one Halloween season (and Month of Horror), I see that one conservative I’ve met is voting for Nader.

You gotta love Peter Brimelow’s title for the resulting explanatory article, though: “How I Became a Resentful Naderite.” Brimelow, who is an anti-immigration paleoconservative, once addressed my pro-immigration stance in what seemed to me a very odd (but by his standards, I supposed, perfectly logical) way by asking me: “Are you Irish?” (I am just slightly, but cosmopolitan child of the Enlightenment that I am, I never really thought it politically relevant — and still don’t). I can’t complain that he was the rude one, though, since I had been holding up an ironic “Keep out the limeys” sign during the anti-immigration speech he’d just given. Brimelow is himself an immigrant from England. You see the irony, even if he doesn’t. Primitive battles over bloodlines and geography merely delay the inevitable next round in the more-useful battle of ideas — to the great detriment of the latter.

V. Race, Tribal Affiliations, and Punishing the GOP

On a related note, I suspect the effect of racism in this election has been fairly small, with people both voting against and for Obama for racial reasons, it should be remembered — not that things balancing out makes everything OK. Overall, though, I am inclined to laugh if I hear leftists in the days ahead saying, somewhat paradoxically, that “President Obama may have a hard time governing this racist country.”

Howard Stern did a clever bit, I’m told, revealing that some black NYC residents support all of McCain’s most right-wing positions when told they are Obama’s positions — but then, even Reason’s Tim Cavanaugh says, with refreshing frankness, that he’s voting for Obama because he’s black, which makes about as much sense as the reasons given by other Obamatarians and Obamacons, who make up about half the respondents in Reason’s survey of who Reason-affiliated intellectuals are voting for. Most of them are more interested in punishing Republicans than empowering Obama, of course.

However, political parties are just a tiny bit like free markets: abandon them — in this case, the GOP — to buy Brand X, where Brand X is handsome-young-left-wing-demagogue, and all you do is make Brand Y’s producers think “Maybe next time we need a handsome young left-wing demagogue” — that’s no way to “send a message” if your goal is to nudge Brand Y in the specific direction of free-market thinking, obviously. Luckily, about half the interviewed Reasonoids are voting for Bob Barr, as am I, which at least sends a clearer message — unless, of course, lots of Brimelow-like conservatives conclude we voted for Barr because of his anti-immigration stance. So hard to send a simple message [CORRECTION: Actually, it works out to about 1/3 Obama, 1/3 Barr, and 1/3 miscellaneous on the Reason survey, but with more non-voters, undecideds, and outta-left-field responses than just-plain McCain votes in that final third].

In a venue loftier than this blog, though, I hope to have a piece in the coming days about a more high-minded, more long-term attempt (among scholars) to bridge the liberal-libertarian divide.

UPDATE: Paul Taylor notes this excellent IowaHawk comedy piece, which sums up the absurdity of the Obamacons — if not precisely the Obamatarians — beautifully.


Xine said...

>With New York governor Paterson quoting Ayn Rand in >congressional testimony this week — and sometimes opposing >eminent domain — those pieces of pink-painted wood may not yet >be as irrelevant as some would think.

Isn’t that quotation cosmologically negated by Rand-acolyte Alan Greenspan’s recent testimony to the House Oversight Committee that his belief that people would act according to their “self-interest” had been shockingly shattered?

Gerard said...

Some interesting stuff there.

I’m still baffled by the notion that President Obama is going to govern in a pragmatic manner. I’m not sure if they’re using that term as a synonym for practical or reasonable-in which case, there’s no evidence for subscribing to that belief-or are referring to the political philosophy which will guide him in office, which is a more plausible scenario, but which is also not something to be desired, IMO.

Todd Seavey said...

You win some, you lose some on the Rand front — but even back when he was part of the Rand circle forty years ago, Greenspan was considered more a technocrat than an ideologue by Rand and others. No surprise he gets mushy. His recent comments, though, should probably be seen as an overly rhetorical way of stating the more narrow claim that reputational effects at banks were not as powerful a constraint on bad behavior as expected.

It’s worth remembering that wouldn’t matter as much without the threat of disparate-impact lawsuits forcing institutions to make high-risk loans, though. Left-leaning law and government are still the root of the problem, as always, though “capitalists” are more than happy to feed at the trough once it’s created — one reason I may have to start specifying that I’m a “_laissez-faire_ capitalist,” no mere “capitalist” endorser of current business arrangements, so rare a niche is our more-demanding kind becoming.

Todd Seavey said...

[...] I suspect I’d be happier with her errors than with most Democrats’, but at this point, I’m sufficiently wary of all politicians that I’m content to just sit back and see what happens with the people’s choice instead.  Something bad, I’ll bet you.  (But we can discuss whether 2009 means A New Hope or the Empire Strikes Back at Lolita Bar on Wednesday.) [...]

Todd Seavey said...

[...] Well, if the panel I’m hosting this Wednesday at Lolita Bar (about the prior day’s election) is any indication, tomorrow will see even the undecideds go for Obama. [...]

Todd Seavey said...

[...] Much as I may disagree with the portion of libertarians voting for Obama (some of whom may well be at our non-partisan Lolita Bar event tomorrow, with a strange, unwarranted, and unusual air of victory about them), I do at least find it interesting to see a group of ideologues who are all ostensibly on the same philosophical page contort themselves such that they come up with completely different voting strategies. [...]

Todd Seavey said...

[...] I think the time for treating Obama with kid gloves has now passed (so let’s hope people feel free to criticize him a bit during tonight’s Lolita Bar panel). The media found him charming, Americans found him a pleasingly ambiguous political-horoscope into which they could read their fondest hopes for a changed world, and a few too many conservatives and libertarians found him a pleasing weapon with which to punish a failed Republican Party, which may or may not learn something useful from the beating, like a dog punished two days after its misdeeds. [...]