2010 Elections Stuck in the Myths of U.S. Politics

Our politics are stuck in a Hanna-Barbera bubble of mythology and wishful thinking.

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Could someone push the fast-forward button on this thing? On the eve of an election in which my wife insists I participate, if only to set an example of decent citizenship for our children, I’m heartened by the good sense of the eminent historian Walter Russell Mead:

The real problem for both parties is that the old roads and the old destinations don’t make that much sense anymore. A global economic upheaval is changing the rules before our eyes. This can play to America’s greatest strengths: our cultural dispositions favoring flexibility, innovation and hard work. But we will have to reinvent some of our core institutions to do this, drastically reducing the size and cost of our government, legal, health and educational systems even as we find ways to make them much more productive than ever before. The old progressive elite of Democrats’ dreams can’t lead us into the promised land--but while Republicans know this much, they haven’t figured out what comes next.

The way I see it is this: Democrats are fighting not only to protect but to expand America’s version of the modern centralized welfare state--which is bankrupt. And Republicans are fighting a rearguard action to restore a pristine free-market monocultural utopia that never existed in the first place.

Our politics are stuck in a Hanna-Barbera bubble of mythology and wishful thinking. So, sure, I was tempted to attend the Rally for Sanity last weekend and demand the repeal of the ... Third Amendment!

But it became clear, quickly, that it was little more than a magnet for feckless young hipsters and snooty inner-suburbanites who assume that “liberal” and “sane” are intrinsically synonymous. Count me out.

If there’s no fast-forward button available on the life machine, maybe I can just hibernate. Wisconsin Senate candidate Ron Johnson says, “ What we need to do in this economy is pretty simple. It’s gonna be hard.”

Nobody here can play this game.