Manning the Gate

Matt Yglesias on why it’s bad that Kentucky voters nominated a “lunatic” like Rand Paul to run for the Senate, even though it helps the Dems’ chances of winning the election:

My view of how politics works is that there are very strong forces at work in the two party system driving it toward long-term equilibrium. Ideological extremism, tactical blundering, bad luck, etc. can hurt a party and reduce its odds of gaining power. But ultimately the odds don’t ever stray all that far from 50-50. So it matters a lot what’s going on. I’m sure David Axelrod is hoping Sarah Palin gets the Presidential nomination in 2012 since she’ll be somewhat easier to beat than the alternatives. I’m hoping the GOP nominates someone who stands some chance of doing a decent job if he or she wins.

First off, of course he doesn’t bother elaborating on just what exactly makes Rand Paul a “lunatic”; this is supposed to be self-evident, I guess.  (In fairness, I don’t read Yggie very often, so he may well have gone into this before.  Also, I’ll admit I don’t know much about Paul either—I’ve seen a video of one of his campaign ads, which was peddling the usual conservative mix of jingoism and xenophobia—so Yglesias’ assessment may well be correct.)  However, my suspicion, based in part on the passage quoted above, is that what makes Paul a nutjob is that his views fall outside of the pathetically narrow confines of “acceptable opinion,” which, when you get down to it, is the line of shit that people like Yglesias are peddling—“long term equilibrium,” “odds [that] don’t ever stray all that far from 50-50”—in other words, a mushy, middle-of-the-road, vanilla-flavored centrism that eschews any even slightly controversial position for fear of being viewed as some kind of “extremist.”  This is the way things are, and the way things ought to be.  Opposition to imperial wars and the national security state?  How about idiotic drug laws that imprison thousands of people for a victimless crime?  Nah, those are positions that only a nutbar would take.  Back to the center folks, between the painted lines.  I mean, why not dispense with the charade altogether and just come out and say it: What we need is a one-party system—of an enlightened, “progressive” variety, of course.

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