Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Q&A - 15/11

Trump

I will drain the swamp [meaning ending lobbyist influence in Washington] once elected.

Candidates say these things but do not follow through

In fact I remember a moment during one Bill C. - Bush I debate when both candidates were asked about lobbying, and Bush I replied that  "it is a necessary part of the legislative process". Bill said something along the lines of "draining the swamp" too, back in 1992. It would be interesting to see what happened afterwards when Bill became president, probably not much changed. Why the lobbyist bashing then? During the election Bill was the challenger and he was trying to reinforce the "time for change" message; he already had the advantegous position, Reps had lost the incumbency adv, Bush I's popularity was not good. All Bill had to do was fighting the Rep slander machine (not easy), and project a general aura of change. The anti-lobbyist comment was simply "the opposite of what the other guy said".

Question

Is lobbying important? 

It is

Bush I was right - in representative systems power is concentrated, and that concentrated power needs to be lobbied similarly in a concentrated way, by interest groups. Guy on the street doesn't know shit about issues anyway, even educated people do not, they'll pick couple of people they are in general agreement with as their thought leader, and adopt his / her other ideas. It has always been this way.

Then, people who want to cause change in policy need to get better at lobbying, and seek to join forces with others who might share their agenda.

Note: On the environment, do liberals think about allying themselves with evangelicals for instance? They might be open to the idea you know, protecting God's creation all that. Was this considered, or did liberals reject such allegiance out-of-hand because they see evangelicals as "bunch of root suckin backward sheep-like people who treat their people with leeches when they get sick"? Some incorrect predispositions might be hindering effective action. 

Obama

[Sometime after his election, paraphrasing, on higher taxes] The American people settled the issue [with his election, meaning they said yes to high taxes]. 

Not true

Now Trump is elected, so.. did the "American People" vote for less taxes? Did they vote for the wall? No. 

People do not care about individual policies. It would be a mistake to assign fuzzy meaning to general election results. The system ensures parties regularly get the fuck out (a great thing), good policies can only extend a run a little - that's all. If taxes are raised and they have an adverse effect on the economy the broad parameter GDP growth is effected, and the Prez's party might lose the election. The effect is indirect. 

But there is more: I remember at the time Bam's comment rubbed off the Congressional Republicans in the wrong way, so not only the analysis was mistaken, he also failed to connect with people he was going to work with. 

Presidents, as being the singular person(s), are elected with a lot fanfare, with intense focus placed on them, because only one person will get the job and mass-media's celebrity chasing instincts work well with that. But they tend to get lost in the moment and practice all this high-and-mighty, "I'll do this, that" rhetoric forgetting the Presidency is one power center out of many in Washington. The fanfare can get extreme, and I know for fact that even though they might not say so, the people in the Congress resent the executive for this. They are "the many" (especially the House), and they must endure more electoral hardship to get elected, and then to keep the job. Some complain about the quality of the people in Congress, but imagine an educated, able-professional with some political skills campaigning for the job, and having the contend with that 5 second attack ad that'll target their spouse, children without a Prez election level war-chest to do anything about it. 

So the first lesson for the Prez is to "bottle it". Obama might be forgiven that he was all young and stupid at the time, but this kind of fanfare, and rhetoric adds up. Presidents need to adopt the rhetoric that is suitable for the congressional relations from day one. They should not talk over congressional leaders, and try to communicate through media: they will balk and shut you down. Do your thing privately.

Some Presidents might want to fix this, and adapt a tone for it, but even the "unification rhetoric" itself might backfire. Dubya tried that, "I am a uniter, not a divider", etc.. Then the election is over, Dubya is like "okay let's do some unifyin' here" which came across as "I will unify you". There was bunch of hoopla, the congressional leaders knew it,  they did not want to be so "publicly unified", they balked.

"But then the congress will pay the price for standing against being unified, hindering the President". Not necessarily. Reps gave Clinton a hard time, and they again, have the majority. 

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