Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Inside The Outside In DC

Josh Barro is something of a conservative "It Boy" among a lot of the blogosphere as of late.  This is in no small part because he identifies as a conservative and a Republican, but is completely willing to criticize his own side when he thinks they deserve it.  Here's him explaining why the GOP's attempt to destroy the world economic by deliberately causing the US to default payments on our debt is a bad idea.  In short he's a conservative Republican, but a pretty reasonable guy who is trying to reform the GOP.

Erick Erickson is another type of conservative Republican.  He's a professional bloviating pundit who says outrageous stuff on CNN and runs a blog dedicated to changing the GOP.  He also see's himself as a reformer but of a different stripe.  Erickson sees reforming the GOP as being a project dedicated to taking away power from "insiders" or the "establishment" and giving it away to others, i.e. him.  Recently he and Barro went to war

Fights over who's the "real conservative" have always struck me as being pretty boring.  But one thing this the Barro/Erickson exchange did illuminate for me is that political fights over who is the "outsider" and who is the "insider," or who is the "establishment" are just a waste of time.  Everyone sees themselves as an "outsider" fighting against the "establishment"  in modern American politics.

Erickson tried to make this point by using geography as an indicator of who is this outsider and who is the insider:
The real conservative reformers have to fight it out in the already crowded space for reform with the poseurs. But once we get to them, we are presented with the original problem mentioned above. They are in New York and Washington.

Those of us outside Washington and New York should not think ourselves superior to them because of geography or biography. But we should all recognize that the DC-NY corridor of conservative thinkers have a steep hill to climb these days. The public, regardless of party, loathes Washington and the elites. Merely by virtue of geography, many of them are tainted. Thus they must try harder to connect to the real world.
This is a strange argument to make.  Especially since it ignores the fact that "outsider" Erickson goes on CNN to explain "what conservatives want" or "what the GOP needs to do" all the time.  This gives Erickson more influence over conservative politics and the GOP that 99.9% of other people who would affiliate themselves with either of those two lables.

This trend doesn't just apply to talking heads.  I'm sure lots of GOP Senators see themselves as "outsiders" and such even though any one member of the United States Senate can wield tremendous influence in Washington.  The same goes for Governors or committee chairs in the House of Representatives to a lesser extent.  Maybe this is because of the defuse nature of power in our system of government, even the powerful don't wield that much absolute power, so even when you have power you still see your self as an insurgent battling an entrenched powerful enemy.  Or maybe it is the legacy of the counter culture of the 1960's; everyone stills sees the world in terms of noble individuals battling corrupt institutions.  Or maybe it is just that we'd all rather root for the Rebel Alliance or the Starks than the Empire or the Lannisters.  Whatever the cause, if you are involved in politics you are already on the "inside" to some degree, the real "outsiders" are people who aren't involved at all.  

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