Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Boldness Loses Again

I'd like to have more to say about this soon, but I just wanted to call attention to the results in last night's special election in New York, in which Republican overreach got trounced yet again.

But one lesson shouldn't be lost here: Boldness loses elections.  I've heard endlessly from folks on both ends of the political spectrum about how much voters loooooove bold policies and will follow anyone who seems strong and courageous, while reality keeps proving that those who stick their necks out lose their heads.  And the more you stick it out, the more of it you lose.

That's obvious to anyone with reliable political instincts, but to people who abhor politics and imagine that it gets in the way of their otherwise great democracy, it's meekness that gets punished.  And it should be noted that liberal polices really are more popular than conservative ones, yet you still have to sell your policy while obeying the archaic rules of politics.  And if the policy you're selling is one that voters refuse to support, even if it's the right policy or the policy they truly want or need, you're going to lose elections.

And that's as it should be.  Democracy isn't a limited-term dictatorship and doesn't give you permission to do whatever the hell you want.  And that means that if a majority of the country says they don't want a public option or higher taxes for the middleclass, you'll be a fool by trying to force them to take their medicine against their will.  Because you won't just lose the election, but set yourself back for years and undermine your cause directly.

Being forced to follow political rules and listen to polls isn't a flaw with democracy; it's a key feature.

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