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Thursday, August 21, 2008


a question of efficacy

remember this chart -- particularly the spectacular acceleration seen in it since 2000? remember "deficits don't matter"? remember the words of joseph stiglitz?

The national debt has increased 50% in eight years, with almost $1-trillion of this increase due to the war — an amount likely to more than double within 10 years. Who would have believed that one administration could do so much damage so quickly?

how then to attempt to reconcile all that with this from fivethirtyeight?

Our popular vote projection shows a literal tie, with each of Barack Obama and John McCain projected to earn 48.5 percent of the vote, and third-party candidates receiving a collective 3 percent.

as i've noted several times previously, i'm a burkean conservative (what would now probably be called paleoconservative in some respects) with a historical tendency to vote republican. i am also a quiet admirer of the republic our founders attempted to organize in the constitution all those many years ago, and many of those who helped to define it in its early years.

but my disaffection with and disdain for what it has mutated into knows few bounds. i have said previously that the once-noble experiment has ended. if indeed the american people can return for a third term to the executive office the republican party following what has been -- differences of ideology aside -- the two least competent and counterproductive terms of executive administration in the whole 230-odd years of the nation's existence, it will severely damage my implicit support for the continuation of democracy in the united states. our current mode of governance would have to be seen as being broken.

i hardly think the democratic party and barack obama are some sort of panacea for american ills, as many of the yet-to-be-jaded young and liberal seem wont to hope. and a general tendency of favoritism toward the status quo is laudable and right in my view. we should be slow to change. but no voting body whose unresponsiveness to not only repeated, sometimes spectacular failure but aggressive and outright fraud and even criminality so profound as to mimic a national suicide attempt as durable as twelve years should be allowed or expect to retain the responsibilities of the ballot box.

as paul volcker rightly notes, "we'll see whether a democracy can deal with an obvious problem that's going to be present in not too many years -- and the earlier we take action to deal with it, the better." color me skeptical, even cynical, but i would say the answer is obviously not.

sulla's proscriptions were anything but democratic, but the evolution of government that they put in motion resulted in the establishment of the principate which for at least two centuries prior to the crisis of the third century reasonably managed politically and economically the senescence and decline of the roman empire. such an outcome, reviling though it is to jeffersonian sensibilities and fiery though the path to attaining it could well be, is probably too optimistic -- rome is remembered as the greatest of empires for a reason. but the alternative would seem to me to be the acceptance of a much more rapid fracturing and dissolution of the western anglophone universal state into a chaotic and multipolar dark age.

many a philosopher of the imperial period lionized the men and events of the republic -- that model of roman society was not abandoned lightly but of necessity. i sometimes fear that we too are fast approaching the analog of that time, much more quickly than most realize.

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