On ‘Dumbing Down’ the Democratic Debate | Lawrence Lessig
Whatever else happens the indy vote will have real consequence in 2016. Democrats may want to ponder what effect the articles debate has on the non affiliated.
Republicans have become “more loyal to party than to country.” “As a result,” as they conclude, “the political system has become grievously hobbled at a time when the country faces unusually serious challenges and grave threats.”
As a Democrat, it is easy to agree with Mann’s account. Too easy. It gives a simple foe. It validates a partisan frame. And it leads to scholarship as partisan cheerleading (I last met Mann at a Democratic Leadership retreat. My message: The system is corrupt — and you’re part of the system. His message: Republicans are nuts! Guess who got invited back?).
But the flaw in this approach is its incompleteness. In its rush to name an enemy, it misses Nobel Prize winning economist Ronald Coase’s core truth: that the cause of a problem is the part you can fix. And given that Republicans are here to stay, and that a Democratic supermajority in Congress is as likely as world peace, our focus should be on the parts of this system that have induced this Republican (and often Democratic) craziness, and on building a political movement to change at least those parts.
This incompleteness shows itself in Mann’s latest essay — an essay that charges me (and Donald Trump) with “the dumbing down of American politics” — “a reality,” Mann writes, just to show he’s as good with the rhetoric as any of us, “that will bring tears to the eyes of civics teachers and political science professors across the country.” (Oh, the poor civics teachers!)