Thursday, October 13, 2005

Mark Schmitt geeks out

By going to his home site rather than TPMcafe, I unlocked a secret level. Nice post too, full with Schmitt-wisdom.


Julian Elson said...

But, in video games, usually a little loophole is left for evil to rise again (or, in some cases, as in Starcraft: Brood War, evil is basically victorious by the end, but the forces of goodness are still around in the margins). Otherwise game companies wouldn't be able to make convincing sequels! (of course, some games are pretty self-contained, with (almost) all loose threads wrapped up by the end. Others, like Diablo II before the LoD expansion, are pretty obviously set up with a sequel or expansion in mind)

I think there's another possible analogy to Republicans. They want a final battle to destroy all evil, but when they're actually in a position to enact their agenda, they're afraid to do so, because then there would be no more drama to sell to their voters!

Actually, I'm not sure I believe that. Like the meme that Republicans are deliberately incompetent in hopes of discrediting government, the idea is fairly widespread that Republicans are holding back on enacting their agenda because they're afraid that if, say, they do get Roe overturned, they'll lose the pro-life vote. I'm not sure I believe it though. The Republicans want a radical restructuring of American society, and by gosh, it's hard work. No, really! I would take the failure of Republicans in power relative to their goals to be an indication of the ambition and radicalism of their agenda, not their reluctance in actually achieving it.

Neil Sinhababu said...

Yeah, in some games (Mega Man) they do some silly things to make sequel room. But in others (Contra) they don't explicity leave any sequel room, but still figure out some way gin up a sequel when time comes.

I really don't know what to say about either of those memes, though I've carried the deliberately-discrediting-government meme myself. Certainly it seems right to me that Republicans don't feel the intensity of motivation towards constructing effective and competent government that Democrats do.

Rousseau said...

A few things. 1) I love the comments here and some other places; I've been reading more liberal blogs lately and the existence of liberal-trolls there is something that saddens me. Very amused by the quote at schmitt's "If the Roy Moores of the country become powerful enough, we can kiss democracy goodbye." Since heh, Roy Moore wants democracy, his opponents don't.

2) Conservatism is quickly becoming Manicheanism and it's something that very much disturbs me. I've lived my life on the premise that we are not defined by "black and white" and that technocratic competence and moderate compromise are important long before W arrived. Hence my distaste for LOTR, Neil. And I'd say Aragorn vs Sauron is a much better description of the match-up redstaters dream of.

3) Yeah, I really don't know what to say about the idea that Republicans never implement their agenda. The Right ignored criticism of Reagan's deficits saying it is the fault of the Dem Congress, but can they buy that any longer? W, Reagan, Nixon, Eisenhower all did absolutely nothing for the conservative vision of government - but did a great deal for wealthy backers and Republican rhetoric. However, imagining the whole party is really in on one big conspiracy, is exactly the sort of Manicheanism we need to avoid and we mock them for!

So it's a question of specific actors. I'd acknowledge that Rove is willing to let any conservative goal go unaccomplished if it will help electoral success. But is this true of Dobson? Is this true of Dobson's army of syncophants who spread his message? If the GOP party wants to not implement things just so it can continue running good campaigns, who knows this and who doesn't?

It's much more plausible to believe that they just suck at their goals.

Julian Elson said...

So... going from Rousseau (an odd pseudonym for an advocate of technocratic competence, with all due respect :^)), maybe the difference between Republicans and Democrats is that Democrats view governing as playing Simcity 2000, where you try to balance public services, taxation, infrastructure, etc, all while making tradeoffs between the current prosperity of the city and future expansions based on surplus revenue. Republicans view the governing as playing Jedi Knight, where you try to destroy all the forces of evil, lightsaber in hand, and then all the well-meaning folks of the galaxy can sort things out from there.

Julian Elson said...

Errr... wait. I think I completely missed Rousseau's point: he was saying that we need to AVOID making simple statements about "Democrats think in SimCity (and are thus good) and Republicans think in Jedi Knight (and are thus evil)." Ah well.

Neil Sinhababu said...

I really don't know what to make of Dobson after he rolled over on the Miers nomination. I didn't expect him to do that.

The thought of Grover Norquist playing SimCity is sort of amusing to me.

Julian Elson said...

Norquist would just issue a bunch of bonds, spend recklessly, and declare victory when the city started falling apart.

In his defense, that's how I managed my cities when I first got SC2K and hadn't learned to finesse these things, though I didn't declare victory when everything went to hell.

I'm now trying to figure out what Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri factions the parties are. Morganites, Believers, and Spartans are Republican. University and Gaians are Democrats. I'm not sure where to put Peacekeepers ("aggressive democratization" policy seems neocon-ish, diplomatic penchant seems Democratic) or Hive (Republicans seem to be a bit less squeamish about civil rights violations, but the overall collectivist/atheist philosophy seems like it would have (very slightly) more appeal among Democrats than Republicans. I don't think either party likes the Hive.).

Rousseau said...

I think my point was simply that the comments here amuse me (and continue to do so), and acting like an extremely Good v Evil few of the world replete with fulfilling climax is a new type of art since the invention of the videogame is silly. In fact, the conservatives we fear most are certainly the ones with the oldest books informing their Manicheanism, like Revelations. (And now I start thinking of the non-closure videogames, like PacMan with endless levels that will never provide you with an ending.)

Anyway, the difference between the good guys and bad guys is that the good guys play Sim City more often, yes. But if you make that distinction between dems and reps and - this is the important part - then go play Mortal Kombat against them instead of Sim City, bad things happen.

Oh, and I like Rousseau because I think he generally acknowledged there were tough choices to be made. Not in the Hobbesian / arm-chair neocon "there's no two ways about it old chap" who says there should be great sacrifices in order to benefit there cause. Just in the way of "it sucks to be us, there's no easy way out of it, and if you're actually deontic you actually have to do some really extreme things."