The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Hive Mind

It's easy to forget the machinations that were ongoing in the run-up to the Obamacare vote in 2009 and 2010. The legislation was deeply flawed from the onset and was sold on knowingly false promises. Some moderate Democrats had significant reservations about the ACA, yet in the end, arm-twisting, back room freebies for specific legislators (think: the "Cornhusker Kickback"), and a desire to give their newly minted president a 'win' all combined to provide a unified vote. Not a single Democrat voted against Obamacare, not one Democrat even voiced concerns about the legislation.

In the years that followed, the Obama administration made bad decision after bad decision, created scandal after scandal, and did end-runs around the congress regularly. Yet, few Democrats expressed any concern about all of this. The few Democrats who did ask questions (think: Senator Robert Menendez) found themselves under investigation with the potential for criminal charges. Political hardball in the extreme.

It's almost as if a hive mind was and is at work among the Democrats. The president and party leadership defined the way forward (no matter how flawed that path was) and the party regulars dropped their heads, closed their mouths, and followed without a peep. I have on numerous occasions noted that in many ways, the Dems look like the Stepford Wives, robotically following an absolutist ideology defined by a few thought leaders.

Compare this the the Republicans in the run up to the defeat of Trump's repeal and replace of Obamacare. There was open and aggressive debate and disagreement throughout the party. There was pushback against the party leadership and the new president. There were alternative paths forward proposed and alternative philosophies offered. It was messy and chaotic, but it showed diversity of thought even as it led to a failed legislative effort. Why was this significant diversity of opinion not present among the Dems over the past eight years?

It's reasonable to argue that a hive mind puts Ws on the score board, while debate and individualism lead the Ls. That is true, and maybe Ws are all that matters, at least for elites who populate Washington, DC.

But it's also reasonable to argue that it's better for messy and chaotic diversity of opinion to result in the defeat of flawed legislation before it becomes law, so that the American people don't have to clean up the mess afterwards.

In the end, there's something troubling about the Stepford wives approach to governance. Bad ideas, serious corruption, and damaging policy are rubber stamped and/or defended because the hive mind demands it. Sure, it led to wins for the Dems, but loses for the country.