Thursday, April 13, 2017

Bialystock's Paradox as explained by Jonathan Chait

For a while now, we've been talking about the parallels between the Producers and the current situation facing the GOP. ("When you win, people expect you to start fulfilling obligations, and when you've been making promises you can't keep...")

We were doing this as an excuse to post old movie clips and avoid writing actual posts, but Jonathan Chait has taken things to the next level and made serious case for the idea that "Before This Is Over, Republicans Are Going to Wish Hillary Clinton Won."

Imagine what the political world would look like for Republicans had Hillary Clinton won the election. Clinton had dragged her dispirited base to the polls by promising a far more liberal domestic agenda than Barack Obama had delivered, but she would have had no means to enact it. As the first president in 28 years to take office without the benefit of a Congress in her own party’s hands, she’d have been staring at a dead-on-arrival legislative agenda, all the low-hanging executive orders having already been picked by her predecessor, and years of scandalmongering hearings already teed up. The morale of the Democratic base, which had barely tolerated the compromises of the Obama era and already fallen into mutual recriminations by 2016, would have disintegrated altogether. The 2018 midterms would be a Republican bloodbath, with a Senate map promising enormous gains to the Republican Party, which would go into the 2020 elections having learned the lessons of Trump’s defeat and staring at full control of government with, potentially, a filibuster-proof Senate majority.


The Republican Party recovered from its cratering under the Bush administration by having the good fortune to lose control of the White House at precisely the moment that a global financial crisis began to inflict deep, ruinous pain upon the public. They used that backlash to gain control of Congress and stymie Obama’s agenda, especially any measures to hasten the recovery or patch up Obamacare, frustrating his supporters. A sense of how deeply the GOP’s position depended upon not holding the White House can be seen in public support for Obamacare. The unpopularity of the law has been the bedrock of the Republican strategy for nearly eight years. Republican control of government has made it … popular.

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