Friday, June 01, 2018

David Brooks: A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to a Forum on Ranked-Choice Voting

Today, Mr. David Brooks of The New York Times would very much like you to believe that he really, really wants to talk about changing our entire electoral system from its current gerrymandered, voter-suppression plagued, Citizen's United-corrupted mess to a system of Week Long Unicorn Voting.

Sorry, I meant Faery Dust Runoff Balloting.

Sorry, I meant Brigadoon Dutch Auction elections.

Sorry, I meant Klingon Rite of Succession.

Sorry, I meant Ranked-Choice Voting, which Mr. Brooks would have you believe is the only possible alternative to the coming Mad Max electoral hellscape:
 If we’re going to have just one structural reform to head off that nightmare, ranked-choice voting in multimember districts is the one to choose.
Now I have nothing against ranked-choice voting.  Hell, sounds like a fucking grand idea and once Mr. Brooks writes another column in which he explains exactly how he plans to simultaneously change human nature, eradicate the influence of dark money and eliminate the hold that deeply-entrenched (and often quite legitimate) institutional interests have over our electoral system, I'm sure my level of interest will rise from "bemused" to "intrigued".

But until then I will remain one of those cynical, vituperative, foul-mouthed bloggers of the Left who does not trust Republicans like Mr. Brooks as far as I can throw an angel food cake on a neutron star.  Because having examined Mr. Brooks' work in detail for more than 13 years now, I can say with absolute confidence that whatever bunting and balloons Mr. Brooks may pick out during any given week to adorn his awful column, the real subject of virtually every single David Brooks column going back to the almost the beginning of recorded history is always the same:  Both Sides Do It.

Everything else but his consistent, core message -- that Both Sides are to blame for all excesses and atrocities, and that the entire, well-documented history of his Republican party simply does not exist -- is nothing but Beltway gingerbread and sleight-of-hand. 

And not even competent sleight-of-hand!

I tell you, at the level of sheer craft, it irritates the shit out of me that there is absolutely nothing clever or subtle about the Big Lies that The New York Times pays Mr. Brooks to tell.  Because there doesn't have to be.  Because his audience of inbred, Beltway milksops does not like to go hunting for their Both Siderist Easter Eggs.  They like them to be as obvious as a troll turd on a white tile floor. 

And this one thing is what Mr. Brooks excels at.  It's why his credentials are never checked at the door and why he is feted by the  smart set as an Elder Sage despite his long and glorious record of being almost entirely wrong about almost everything.  Because Mr. Brooks delivers for them.  Because he can always be counted on to serve them their Both Siderist Easter Eggs poached, pre-chewed, laid out on the good china with a side of aristocratic self-righteousness, and spoon-fed into their mouths with no doubts or surprises. 

Just scroll past the first few paragraphs of window dressing --
There are a bunch of different ways to do democracy. In Western Europe, most countries...
-- and 6th grade book report history --
During the middle of the 20th century, it seemed like we’d chosen the right approach. The proportional multiparty system allowed an extremist named Adolf Hitler...
-- and you will always find it.
Now the two-party system has rigidified and ossified. The two parties no longer bend to the center. They push to the extremes, where the donor bases and their media propaganda arms are.
The Both Siderist razor in every David Brooks apple:
Each party imagines that it is one wave election from destroying the other side and gaining total power. Therefore, as Drutman notes, there’s no interest in compromise, just winning and losing, gloating and seething.
Sitting in plain sight, big and naked and lumpy and dumb:
Partisans’ chief interest is in proving that the other party is despicable — in ramping up fear, hatred and the negative polarization that is the central feature of contemporary American politics.
The most toxic political lie of all.  The Big Lie that enables all the other lies.  The lie that every Trump meathead keeps in his back pocket and uses as his own, personal Get Out Of Accountability Free card every time another bullshit conspiracy theory blows up in his face.  
There are over 6,000 breweries in America, but when it comes to our politics, we get to choose between Soviet Refrigerator Factory A and Soviet Refrigerator Factory B.
Look very carefully at what you just read, because there is no other way to read this column other than as the expressed belief of  Mr. David Brooks that Obama Administration was nothing more than "Soviet Refrigerator Factory A" and the Trump Administration is nothing less than "Soviet Refrigerator Factory B".  

That these two presidents, and the governments they formed, and the vision for America they rallied their supporters to, and the policies they proposed, and the laws they enacted, and the woof and warp of who the are and what they sought to do are all existentially indistinguishable from one another in any meaningful way. 

There is no other way to read this column is Mr. David Brooks of The New York Times asserting that both Barack Obama and Donald Trump are equally sleazy ringmasters of  "fear, hatred and ... negative polarization" .  

That, according to Mr. David Brooks of The New York Times, neither Barack Obama nor Donald is remotely interested in "compromise".  Neither one willing to make the slightest "bend to the center".   Instead, according to Mr. David Brooks of The New York Times, both Barack Obama and Donald Trump were exclusively driven by an obsession with "winning and losing, gloating and seething."

This is how far men like David Brooks will go to protect their Beltway Both Siderist cult:  they will to casually obliterate any inconvenient historical facts -- including the entire Obama Administration -- that stand in the way of advancing their appalling dogma.

And there is no voting system known to man that can fix that. 

Behold, a Tip Jar!


Robt said...

This may be backing up on stylish election methods.

Start with getting as much money out of elections as possible.

I care not to hear the NRA variable for elections that if you ban money in elections than only Russians will have money in elections.

Gerrymandering is not just remapping for a party to lock in and Terra-form it's voters.
I got to say, the choosing a first choice and second has some merit.

One thing for sure, Brooks is definitely not the go to guy for thought and information to chew on for elections. But if I want to read an Auto bio of a feebled mentally challenge writer who never has to account from one word from the next, one column written from the next. Because of some wealthy sugar daddy that assures his incompetence will be rewarded.

For Brooks to excoriate Obama in the past, while facing Trump in the present is his illness of inability to face reality.
Brooks is almost like a mild mannered Alex Jones.

dinthebeast said...

I heard good things about ranked-choice voting for years and years, but the first thing we did with it when we got it was elect Jean Quan as our mayor, which kinda sucked.
Maybe it'll be better when we understand it better, and Libby Schaaf was a much better outcome from the same system, so optimism?

-Doug in Oakland

barney said...

You nailed it. The biggest lie/smear in America is the 'both sides' lie.

starskeptic said...

I'm stuck with the picture of all those angel-food cakes that are forever trapped on that neutron star...

steeve said...

The best part is that Brooks's dream party which will change everything is between Soviet Refrigerator Factories A and B.