Put Your Shoulder to the Wheel

Political parties aren’t well understood. They are vote-driven vehicles used to deliver political power, as SUVs deliver kids to soccer practice. And just like a Ford Explorer, political parties are wholly indifferent to your passionately held priorities. It’s nothing more than who’s steering, who’s pushing, and can you beat the other team to the line.

In any such scenario there is always native friction between the pushers and steerers. And no small amount of enmity when the former looks up to see the jalopy heading in directions they never imagined. Even more when the driver has been yelling out the window for the past 20 years: Just put your backs into it boys! We’re almost there.

What shouldn’t require stating is that minimizing friction between the two is critical in keeping a straight line. And that irenic process involves some element of compromise and quid pro quo. Probably no one will get all they want. But they all better goddamn get something meaningful, or the vehicle is going into a ditch. Most sober men would accept this with as much equanimity as they do the necessity of oil changes. But those steering the Republican Party are not sober drivers.

And as such, the steering wheel has resolutely offered the drivetrain nothing of what it has been pleading for years. 50-50 compromise? Hardly. As current events vividly illustrate, drivers would succumb to Grand Mals if having to give up a single basis point in negotiations. So rather than do so, they remain resolutely focused on where they alone choose to steer, while offering nothing but condescension to any complaints from the rear.

Whether from incapacity or admirable determination, they do not digest that party vehicle pushers have no interests in where they are being steered. That is to say, drivers can no longer muster the constituency needed to push invade/invite/GDP neoconservatism up a hill.

And so the Republican Party is careening in the middle of the road as its drivetrain attempts to direct the vehicle toward its own never accommodated goals as the driver class frantically angles the wheels in the opposite direction. Of course infuriated heads are hanging out front windows screaming imprecations.

Not at all conservative values!

Well sorry chumps, this isn’t a Persian war barge and no one is lashed to your oars. All of which makes for an unsustainable enterprise with one of four potential resolutions.

First, the Republican vehicle rips apart from centrifugal forces and is junked as useless by all parties, with its drivers and pushers both casting for new (and almost certainly different) vehicles: the Whig result.

Second, the establishment drivers are unceremoniously tossed onto spindly limbs and left to walk toward Zuckerberg’s place under their own power. This is the full-scale revolt against Trump who wins the presidency anyway result.

Third, drivers acquiesce in some manner and agree to face-saving compromises in order to be left with the wheel. This is the white flag and get behind Trump result.

Fourth, the GOP and its remora in the Fox News orbit successfully brow-beat and flim-flam the drivetrain into coming back under heel. This is the routine every four years result: an Adelson-approved Rubio nomination.

It’s not often we have epoch-defining moments. 2016 is forming into one.


10 thoughts on “Put Your Shoulder to the Wheel

  1. The 4th option is the same result as the 1st. Death of conservatism as we know it.

    Xerxes is displeased. He disciplines his generals.

  2. Pingback: Put Your Shoulder to the Wheel | Reaction Times

  3. Result 2 and 3 would make me believe in American Exceptionalism for the first time in ages. The Europeans have been fiddling with UKIP an FN and PVV and others for 15 years with hardly an inch gained in policy influence. If we could tip the bus over in the course of one election, coming out of nowhere, that would be exceptional. The further irony would be that it was the crocodile tear neocons who brow beat Obama about not believing in American Exceptionalism, and it was one of the few things I agreed with him on. Now it will be their arrogance that brings about true Exceptionalism.

    • That’s a valid perspective, and probably one that deserves a wider airing. It’s not often enough noted how intentionally sclerotic the founders architected the government–and not to their credit in my opinion. Their fear of impulsive mob rule should have been more balanced by trepidation of an entrenched state apparatus.

      The will of a people is not always “mob rule.” And thwarting it at every opportunity is not the exercise of liberty. Give a people no valid means to change their government and they’ll start considering plenty of invalid ones.

      Though as you note, European states seem even less responsive and if a significant inflection could be executed here peacefully it would be quite flattering to our fitness as a country. Just don’t don’t expect that thought to be long considered in the Weekly Standard.

      • It’s kind of strange that political change can only occur at glacial speed in America, a country very receptive to change in matters of science and technology. It’s hard to believe it’s been crawling along in the same two-party groove since the mid-nineteenth century. One reason is probably because the system is controlled by billionaire donors who keep the cost of running for office artificially high, in the same way that monopolists buy up and hoard supplies of a product to keep it out of reach of all but the rich. The person most likely to break the mould is – and would probably have to be – a billionaire.

      • The last time we had a major party die off and be replaced by another we split in twain and fought a long bloody war…

  4. Propaganda, like all mind altering agents, is either avoided or eventually kills the user.

    The drums of war beat louder, the dogs of war are barking.

  5. Viable mainstream political parties are far too valuable franchises to blow up normally. That’s why it practically never happens. Though now with the party trotting out its old war horse Romney to attack its own front runner (I marvel at the fact of it) we’re getting to the point of irreconcilable differences.

    Every four years, the faithful push the GOP vehicle wherever the drivers steer. One time they start angling the car toward their own interests and the front seat declares war. A more vivid expression of bad faith would be difficult to imagine.

  6. It’s a sorry state of affairs when we describe as “epoch making” the majority getting their own way in a democracy.

    Which brings us back to the title of the blog…

  7. “Third, drivers acquiesce in some manner and agree to face-saving compromises in order to be left with the wheel. This is the white flag and get behind Trump result.”

    I’ll take door number three Monty.

    However there is a fifth position which was proposed by Bob Whitaker. Trump achieves nomination and recants his heresies as so many Republican have done in the past according to Whitaker. Heresies which have done so much to rock the status quo and in the absence of which the rigor of détente sets in to the GOP upper and lower echelons again.


    If my analysis of what Whitaker said or my interpretation of this blog post is off then excuse me if I don’t quiet grasp the nuance of the U.S. two party tyranny as I am a Euro. We only have to deal with a one “party” tyranny here… the E.U.

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