Wednesday, June 20, 2012

I think Gary Wills is worried about Gary Johnson . . . really

Gary Wills:  if you vote any way
except Democratic, you are either
a racist or you support racism.
Gary Wills is one of those frustrating, entertaining, truly original intellectuals who often surprises, and often unnerves.  His Inventing America should rank with DeToqueville's Democracy in America as one of the two dozen books every literate citizen should read.

Even when I don't agree with him, I find him absolutely necessary reading.

Today Gary Wills is writing a diatribe about the fact that only losers would vote for third parties, because
What they normally do is damage the party closest to their professed ideals. Third parties are run by people who make the best the enemy of their own good and bring down that good. 
This is preceeded by an injunction that one should always vote for the party rather than the candidate:
But the man being voted for, no matter what he says, dances with the party that brought him, dependent on its support, resources, and clientele. That is why one should always vote on the party, instead of the candidate. The party has some continuity of commitment, no matter how compromised. What you are really voting for is the party’s constituency. That will determine priorities when it comes to appointments, legislative pressure, and things like nominating Supreme Court justices.
 So far, so good, Mr. Wills.  Don't agree with you, but it is a well-constructed argument.

Turns out, however, that it descends, mere sentences later, into Paul Krugman territory that involves the premise that if you do not vote Democratic you are either a racist or a racist tool:

To vote for a Democrat means, now, to vote for the party’s influential members—for unions (including public unions of teachers, firemen, and policemen), for black and Latino minorities, for independent women. These will none of them get their way, exactly; but they will get more of a hearing and attention—“pandering,” if you want to call it that—than they would get in a Republican administration.
To vote for a Republican means, now, to vote for a plutocracy that depends for its support on anti-government forces like the tea party, Southern racists, religious fanatics, and war investors in the military-industrial complex. It does no good to say that “Romney is a good man, not a racist.” That may be true, but he needs a racist South as part of his essential support. And the price they will demand of him comes down to things like Supreme Court appointments. (The Republicans have been more realistic than the Democrats in seeing that presidential elections are really for control of the courts.)

He's not just talking about GOPers here, but virtually anybody in the country who is an Independent, and not a Democrat:
The independents, too ignorant or inexperienced to recognize these basic facts, are the people most susceptible to lying flattery. They are called the good folk too inner-directed to follow a party line or run with the herd. They are like the idealistic imperialists “with clean hands” in Graham Greene’s The Quiet American—they should wear leper bells to warn people of their vicinity.
This is painful piece of sophistry to watch roll off the master's pen.  It is an argument not for a two-party state, but for a one-party state because all of the virtues have now come to reside in the Democrats, and all of the vices have come to reside in the GOP.

But the fervency of this argument bemuses me, because the only reason to make it is out of fear that--like Ross Perot and Ralph Nader who are used as examples later in the article--some third-party spoiler will cause that racist-representing Mitt Romney to be elected.

He would not be writing this piece in this manner if he thought the independent vote for third party candidates would only hurt Mitt Romney.  The piece would therefore be unnecessary and counter-productive.

The only logic that supports writing this article is that Gary Wills is afraid that, in a close election, someone (can we say Libertarian Gary Johnson?) will siphon off sufficient votes from the Left to make a difference in a key battleground state like North Carolina, where the Libertarians tend to be Left-Libertarians.

He's worried.  And, I think, with good reason.

Oh, and by the way, friends, Gary Wills also just officially said on behalf of the Left that Texas sucks.


Andrew R Groff said...

"Vote for the party, not the candidate. The Party has some commitment to continuity." WOW, that's a good one! Which precinct in lala land does this guy live. His assertions are as fresh as my grandfather's Desoto. All I can say to his misjudged word fiddler is "You don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows" (B. Dylan).

Eric Blitz said...

If one votes just for party, without any inquiry into what that candidate stands for, represents and proposes to do in office, then you give deference to the party leaders who pick who is qualified to even seek the party's nomination. Party insiders would become kingmakers with that kind of blind deference. I'm all for building up the Libertarian Party of which I'm a member, but I will always vote my conscience about the individual candidate, not by blind party deference.