Monday, June 12, 2017

Which Team

Parallels between Labour and the Democrats can easily be overstated (and usually are) which is why I do my best to avoid them, but one useful lesson is that so much of politics as narrated by elites has little to do with policy. It's about which team is in charge. Whose friends are going to get good jobs. Which politicians have the right journalists on whatever messaging app people use these days. Which clique is up and which clique is down. Who is on the inside and who is on the outside.

Sure your place on the political spectrum - your policy platform - becomes a kind of tribal signifier, but so many of the people who devote their lives to politics as a career in one way or another really don't seem to care much at all about the policies (except the ones which hit their wallets directly). Electability, "optics," and judgment about appeals to voters they know nothing about in Fritters (here) or The North (UK), are all used to justify why one team is superior to another, but those judgments are usually completely wrong, and often based one upper middle class concerns being projected onto the masses. And those judgments are rarely backed up by any polling data. It's Chris Cillizza's world, we just live in it. Really don't think voters in the UK are going to be turned off by an increase in the top corporate tax rate, or that a slightly higher minimum wage will doom a Democrat here. Might even be popular!

Policies are good and bad based not on their merits, or even any accurate judgment about their perceived popularity, but instead based on which team is behind them. We're all a bit tribal, sure, but it's the people who imagine themselves to be the least tribal Vulcan observers of this thing called politics who are the most tribal of all, even if that tribe is often neither team D or team R, but team Elite Washington. Their careers depend on it.