Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Brown Victory, Pinera Victory

Sure, it’s a bit sad that we who oppose the growth of government can do little better right now than celebrate the fact that we’re still able to muster a filibuster — but I’m willing to celebrate anyway. Please join us — we of the Manhattan Project political drinking society — in doing so tonight (Wed.) at Merchants NY East (62nd and First, s.w. corner) from 6:30 on, and I’ll see if they can get us some Dr. Brown’s Tonic and Chilean wine.

I say Chilean because this week brings free-marketeers not only the joy of seeing Scott Brown elected to the Senate in Massachusetts, potentially blocking passage of the Obama healthcare overhaul, but, perhaps even more significantly, the election of Sebastian Pinera to the presidency of Chile. Pinera is the brother of Cato scholar Jose Pinera, who was almost single-handedly responsible for partially privatizing Chile’s social security system — and who has crusaded for similar market-based reforms around the globe.

Cato Institute president Ed Crane was so pissed off at me fourteen or so years ago, when I was a fledgling New York Press writer, for reporting a Jose Pinera appearance at a Cato event in a sarcastic fashion that Crane actually called my boss at the time, John Stossel, to complain — but anyone acquainted with the general tone of the Press in those days (when it was cool) knows that a veneer of sarcasm was the only way to get anything reported in those pages (Scott Nybakken, for example, was literally told to make his movie reviews for them “more snide”). I was trying to get the Cato message out — the Pinera message out — while still giving the hipsters of the time their chuckles. Mine is a thankless and difficult, very narrow road.

In any case, here’s hoping that Brown, despite impending Democratic procedural shenanigans, not only blocks Obamacare but — along with S. Pinera — portends a rolling-back of the welfare state across the globe — releasing healthcare from the state’s cold, dead grip here, social security from its grip over there, etc. But let us not get cocky: We may not be down to a mere sixteen Republican senators as in FDR’s heyday, but we’re a long way from convincing people government is inherently inefficient and bad, which is more important than any partisan electoral triumph. Indeed, the post-election opinion polls may end up showing that Brown eked out a victory not because Massachusetts voters are turning anti-government (my New England brethren haven’t become that enlightened that quickly) but only because (a) the economy is bad, (b) his opponent was stupid enough to insult a Red Sox player, (c) his opponent was also stupid enough to insult Catholics in Massachusetts, and (d) seniors are afraid the Democrats will cut Medicare, which indeed we should.

Still, I hope this is interpreted, rightly or wrongly, as an attempt to halt Obama’s expansion of the state — and, like the Tea Party movement, helps give momentum to the anti-statist elements in the GOP instead of the war-obsessed elements and the substantial faction that thinks that mundane earthly politics (and all that confusing state-vs.-freedom stuff) is merely some kind of proxy war for the eternal combat between demons and Jesus’s magical invisible army of angels and unicorns. Back in the real world, no matter how stupid the Democrats and the Republicans get, reality will have its say, and the laws of economics and science will reassert themselves and thwart the overreaching ambitions of politicians at some point, preferably sooner rather than later. That the chances for a climate bill are already regarded as dimmer is encouraging evidence that reality may be reasserting itself.


Gerard said...

Of course, you neglect to mention the truly pivotal figure in yesterday’s election.

Dedham’s Joe Kennedy: ‘We made a statement. People listened’

Just before polls closed, independent Senate candidate Joe Kennedy of Dedham confidently asserted that his presence in the race would allow Republican Scott Brown to win the election, saying “the chances of me being a big factor are probably pretty dominant.”

Does your enmity towards the LP know no bounds?

Jacob T. Levy said...


1) J. Kennedy’s 1% vote total was much less than the gap between the two major-party candidates, so even if his votes came entirely from the left, he wasn’t pivotal.

2) J Kennedy did not run as a Libertarian.

3) There is absolutely no reason to think that his votes came entirely from the left.

I’ve got LP burnout, not LP enmity, but c’mon.


I think Todd will like to hear me say this, so: yay Brown (even though he’s a creepy pro-torture anti-immigrant homophobe), and yay for the return of even slightly divided government!

Todd Seavey said...

Gerard’s just joking about Kennedy’s self-proclaimed relevance.

What’s not a joke is that Brown is basically a mushy moderate opposed to that same wind farm off the shore that Ted Kennedy opposed — and a moderate who, like the governor under whom he was a state rep, bears responsibility for partly-socializing medicine in Massachusetts, ironically. Still, it’s the bigger picture that matters, and it’s nice to hear your enthusiasm, my liberaltarian ally, my pro-market brother. Let us never fight again, except maybe with Kerry.

And if SNL can’t get some mileage out of the fact that Scott Brown is (to my knowledge) the only Republican senator who was ever a nude centerfold in _Cosmo_, we need to do something to address America’s failing comedy system.

Gerard said...

The wind farm position was born of necessity. Catering to parochial concerns, however unreasonable and bizarre they might seem to the rest of us, is something you need to do in order to be elected, but I don’t think that necessarily means he’s a “mushy moderate.”

Contrary evidence:

-He opposes amnesty unconditionally, and does not support bilingual education.

-He campaigned on a platform consisting chiefly of opposing nationalized health care, despite his earlier support for Romneycare.

-He does not think taxpayers should be compelled to subsidize the biotech industry by spending billions of taxpayer dollars on embryonic stem cell research.

-He believes that captured terrorists should actually be interrogated, rather than furnished with a panoply of civil rights that had heretofore been denied to them. In other words, we should actually GATHER intelligence, which would be a refreshing change of pace at the moment.

All things considered, this is a political revolution. Akin, in a sense, to New Yorkers ejecting Senator Charles Schumer-God willing-and replacing him with my favorite congressman, Rep. Peter King.

Gerard said...

Not to mention, I don’t know of a single prominent conservative/right wring blogger, talk radio host, columnist or public figure who opposed Brown’s candidacy, despite the perceived gap between his platform and their political philosophy.

There is a world of difference between Scott Brown, and George Voinvich, Lincoln Chaffee, or Jim Jeffords.

Democrats Lose Massachusetts and Health Care said...

[...] Brown Victory! Sure, it’s a bit sad that we who oppose the growth of government can do little better right now than celebrate the fact that we’re still able to muster a filibuster — but I’m willing to celebrate anyway. [...]

Gerard said...

And the best part of his victory-other than the fact that it’s a proverbial thumb in the eye to The Swimmer, and a repudiation of his destructive legacy-is that it validates the Tea Party movement. If you don’t believe me, then just type in the key words “tea party” and browse Twitter, or troll some of the far-left, Dem. message boards/Web fora such as Democratic Underground, the Daily Kos, or FireDogLake.

Todd Seavey said...

As long as this (small) revolution shrinks government — enlarging the sphere in which people can freely act and choose the best ways of doing things — I’m happy. Indeed, I keep thinking now would be the ideal time to ju jitsu the public dialogue into examining ways to _rid_ healthcare of government influence rather than increasing its influence.

Some of those other topics are ambiguous by the more government/less government metric and thus, unsurprisingly, divisive and morally grey. Eyes on the prize: smaller government. And stop trying to hijack the wonderfully anti-government Tea Parties for your anti-illegal-immigration ends, you ex-anti-globalist ex-left-anarchist border-obsessive, you! Nonetheless, hope to see you tonight.