Monday, February 04, 2008

The resurgence of Liberalism, and the role of emotion in politics

I like this analysis from Michael Tomasky in the Guardian today:

‘Liberals around Washington, indeed around the country, are upbeat because it feels like it might be one of those moments. It feels like enough Americans are tired of conservatism, not just of incompetence. It feels like enough of them see that conservatism doesn't have good solutions to some of the new problems America confronts. Not that many Americans, still, are willing to call themselves liberal; just about one adult in five. And no one is hankering for a return to the 1970s or seized with a burning desire to pay higher taxes. But the current mood in the country seems to indicate that Americans are willing to give liberalism that second chance.

And if liberalism gets that chance and succeeds, the modern conservative movement will enter into a period of introspection and recrimination unlike any it's ever experienced. What in this context does "succeed" mean? As little as two things. If a Democratic president and Congress - and everyone expects that Congress will stay in Democratic control - can 1) pass healthcare and 2) articulate and implement a strategic foreign policy vision that defends America and charts a new course in the world, then Americans will embrace this new liberalism. Movement conservatism will be forced to transform itself so utterly as to be unrecognisable as its erstwhile self; which is another way of saying that, short of its 60th birthday, it will in essence perish.

That's all that's at stake.’

Whilst I hope he is right about a return to liberalism- I think he is being a tad idealistic too say the least.

I think people simply want a return to competence, above all else.
But I think the analysis in the article that is the most valid is that concerning the role of emotion in political contests.

Voters came back to Hillary in New Hampshire after she exhibited human emotion. I would argue that it was self pity, but emotion nonetheless.

And Tomasky rightfully points out that Obama’s campaign is based largely on emotion. I am told that his campaign has released position papers on certain issues, but Obama’s appeal to the electorate is essentially emotive, rather than reasoned.

He is not arguing policy positions, but rather emotional release from the torrid Bush years.


Blogger larson_b said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

1:00 AM  
Blogger larson_b said...

i disagree timboy. the swing to hilary, for me, was because she seemed more human. the emotion was a signal, but humanity was the cause of the swing.

bush won twice largely because of his - and i use this term rather loosely - humanity. i see this insofar as voters could identify with him as opposed to the french speaking intellectual, john kerry.

it's not a populace drawn to emotion. it's a populace aware and sick of incompetence.

i haven't been following the primaries, since frankly the cricket's been far more exciting. therfore i shan't comment too much at this stage.
although, they're wearing pyjamas now so i'll probably be ready to comment soon.

12:51 PM  

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