The Flinchum File
Thoughtful Economic Analysis and Existential Opinions

Negative Partisanship

10/30/2019

I love reading anything by George Will.  He neither thinks nor writes in cliches.  He has long been a serious conservative thinker and was a frequent contributor on Fox News, back when it was a reliably conservative news network.

His most recent column is “What if hate is stronger than party affiliation?”  He discusses the thoughts of Jonathon Rauch in conservative National Affairs, about hating more than believing.  For example, “I hate President Trump so much that I’d rather vote for Satan himself” or “I hate President Obama so much that I’d rather vote for Satan himself.”  It used to be that Republicans represented conservative principles, while Democrats represented liberal principles.  At that time, your vote revealed some belief in principles.  It revealed what you believed.  Today, your vote reveals only who you hate.

Conservative principles, according to George Will, include “limited government, balanced budgets, free trade, curbs in executive power, entitlement reform, and collective security.”  He begs the question of — who should a conservative vote for, if they don’t hate anybody?  (A long-time friend and long-time Republican donor told me last night, that he will not vote – for anybody – in 2020.)

Mr. Will is thinking we may have reached a decisive moment in history, “when a society’s per capita quantity of conspicuous stupidity is so high and public manners are so low that a critical mass of people are jolted into saying — enough, already!”  I pray he’s right . . .

I still wonder if this negative partisanship would have gotten so awful, if we still had Walter Cronkite (and nobody else) giving us the news each night before signing off with “and that’s the way it is.”

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