Richard Hofstadter. This timely reissue of Richard Hofstadter's classic work on the fringe groups that influence American electoral politics offers an invaluable perspective on contemporary domestic affairs. In The Paranoid Style in American Politics , acclaimed historian Richard Hofstadter examines the competing forces in American political discourse and how fringe groups can influence — and derail — the larger agendas of a political party. The system was failing even when there was a working majority. People still debate why the package fell apart, and there is blame enough to go around.
The problem was not polarization; it was disorganization. A latent majority could not muster and assert itself.
You learn that a leader without followers is simply a man taking a walk. Boehner was right. One can argue about particulars, and Congress does better on some occasions than on others. Overall, though, minority factions and veto groups are becoming ever more dominant on Capitol Hill as leaders watch their organizational capacity dribble away.
No wonder Paul Ryan, in his first act as speaker, remonstrated with his own colleagues against chaos. Nevertheless, by spring the new speaker was bogged down.
The Promises and Perils of Identity Politics - The American Mind
Who could? Chaos becomes the new normal. Being a disorder of the immune system, chaos syndrome magnifies other problems, turning political head colds into pneumonia. Take polarization. Over the past few decades, the public has become sharply divided across partisan and ideological lines. Chaos syndrome compounds the problem, because even when Republicans and Democrats do find something to work together on, the threat of an extremist primary challenge funded by a flood of outside money makes them think twice—or not at all.
Opportunities to make bipartisan legislative advances slip away. Or take the new technologies that are revolutionizing the media. A figure like Sanders can use the Internet to reach millions of donors without recourse to traditional fund-raising sources. Outside groups, friendly and unfriendly alike, can drown out political candidates in their own races.
Disintermediating technologies bring fresh voices into the fray, but they also bring atomization and cacophony. To organize coherent plays amid swarms of attack ads, middlemen need to be able to coordinate the fund-raising and messaging of candidates and parties and activists—which is what they are increasingly hard-pressed to do.
Assembling power to govern a sprawling, diverse, and increasingly divided democracy is inevitably hard. Chaos syndrome makes it all the harder. For Democrats, the disorder is merely chronic; for the Republican Party, it is acute. Bush might prove to be the last Republican president.
Nearly everyone panned party regulars for not stopping Trump much earlier, but no one explained just how the party regulars were supposed to have done that.
The Rise and Fall of Political Parties in America
Stopping an insurgency requires organizing a coalition against it, but an incapacity to organize is the whole problem. The reality is that the levers and buttons parties and political professionals might once have pulled and pushed had long since been disconnected. Restrictions inhibiting the parties from coordinating with their own candidates serve to encourage political wildcatting, so repeal them. Limits on donations to the parties drive money to unaccountable outsiders, so lift them. Restoring the earmarks that help grease legislative success requires nothing more than a change in congressional rules.
How America Changed During Barack Obama’s Presidency
And there are all kinds of ways the parties could move insiders back to the center of the nomination process. If they wanted to, they could require would-be candidates to get petition signatures from elected officials and county party chairs, or they could send unbound delegates to their conventions as several state parties are doing this year , or they could enhance the role of middlemen in a host of other ways.
So let them. Then they can do their job, thereby making the world safe for challengers and insurgencies. Unfortunately, although the mechanics of de-rigging are fairly straightforward, the politics of it are hard. The public is wedded to an anti-establishment narrative. The political-reform community is invested in direct participation, transparency, fund-raising limits on parties, and other elements of the anti-intermediation worldview.
The establishment, to the extent that there still is such a thing, is demoralized and shattered, barely able to muster an argument for its own existence. But there are optimistic signs, too. Liberals in the campaign-finance-reform community are showing new interest in strengthening the parties. Academics and commentators are getting a good look at politics without effective organizers and cohesive organizations, and they are terrified.
On Capitol Hill, conservatives and liberals alike are on board with restoring regular order in Congress. In Washington, insiders have had some success at reorganizing and pushing back. No Senate Republican was defeated by a primary challenger in , in part because then—Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, a machine politician par excellence, created a network of business allies to counterpunch against the Tea Party.
Only by Learning to Communicate as Citizens, Not Propagandists, Can We Avert Political Tragedy
Because that problem is mental, not mechanical, it really is hard to remedy. Populism, individualism, and a skeptical attitude toward politics are all healthy up to a point, but America has passed that point. Political professionals and parties have many shortcomings to answer for—including, primarily on the Republican side, their self-mutilating embrace of anti-establishment rhetoric—but relentlessly bashing them is no solution. The college-admissions process is so fraught with hysteria, many parents attempt to cheat their kids into elite institutions.
As the impeachment inquiry intensifies, some associates of the president predict that his already erratic behavior is going to get worse. The country is entering a new and precarious phase, in which the central question about President Donald Trump is not whether he is coming unstrung, but rather just how unstrung he is going to get.
The boiling mind of Trump has spawned a cottage industry for cognitive experts who have questioned whether he is, well, all there. But as the impeachment inquiry barrels ahead on Capitol Hill, several associates of the president, including former White House aides, worry that his behavior is likely to get worse. Angered by the proceedings, unencumbered by aides willing to question his judgment, and more and more isolated in the West Wing, Trump is apt to lash out more at enemies imagined and real, these people told me.
Conduct that has long been unsettling figures to deteriorate as Trump comes under mounting stress. As WeWork crashes and Uber bleeds cash, the consumer-tech gold rush may be coming to an end. Several weeks ago, I met up with a friend in New York who suggested we grab a bite at a Scottish bar in the West Village. He had booked the table through something called Seated, a restaurant app that pays users who make reservations on the platform.
We ordered two cocktails each, along with some food. I am never offended by freebies. But this arrangement seemed almost obscenely generous. To throw cash at people every time they walk into a restaurant does not sound like a business. It sounds like a plot to lose money as fast as possible—or to provide New Yorkers, who are constantly dining out, with a kind of minimum basic income. What the Amazon founder and CEO wants for his empire and himself, and what that means for the rest of us.
Where in the pantheon of American commercial titans does Jeffrey Bezos belong?
John D. Rockefeller refined 90 percent of American oil, which supplied the pre-electric nation with light. Bill Gates created a program that was considered a prerequisite for turning on a computer. At 55, Bezos has never dominated a major market as thoroughly as any of these forebears, and while he is presently the richest man on the planet, he has less wealth than Gates did at his zenith. The scope of the empire the founder and CEO of Amazon has built is wider. Indeed, it is without precedent in the long history of American capitalism.
On a third-down play last season, the Washington Redskins quarterback Alex Smith stood in shotgun formation, five yards behind the line of scrimmage. As he called his signals, a Houston Texans cornerback, Kareem Jackson, suddenly sprinted forward from a position four yards behind the defensive line.
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Our unpredictable and overburdened schedules are taking a dire toll on American society. Just under a century ago, the Soviet Union embarked on one of the strangest attempts to reshape the common calendar that has ever been undertaken. As Joseph Stalin raced to turn an agricultural backwater into an industrialized nation, his government downsized the week from seven to five days. Saturday and Sunday were abolished. In place of the weekend, a new system of respite was introduced in The government divided workers into five groups, and assigned each to a different day off.
On any given day, four-fifths of the proletariat would show up to their factories and work while the other fifth rested. Each laborer received a colored slip of paper—yellow, orange, red, purple, or green—that signified his or her group. The unicorn massacre unfolding today is exactly the opposite of what happened in Both then and now , consumer-tech companies spent lavishly on advertising and struggled to find a path to profit.
Both then and now , companies that bragged about their ability to change the world admitted suddenly that they were running out of money. Both then and now , the valuations of once-heralded tech enterprises were halved in a matter of weeks. Both then and now , there was a widespread sense of euphoria curdling into soberness, washed down with the realization that thousands of workers in once-promising firms were poised to lose their jobs. That was not what Mueller had actually said.
As the top prosecutor in the nation, Barr had an ethical obligation to describe the law and the facts accurately to the American people.