Monday, November 17, 2008

The Bush is Hoover Story

Op-Ed Columnist - William Kristol - George W. Hoover? -

I think Kristol hits the nail directly on the head. The masses of people operate with a VERY simple story in their head. Something of the nature of "Government Good / Business Bad", "Republicans are for the Rich / Democrats are for the common man", "Republicans bring opportunity / Democrats bring more taxes", "Republicans support values / Democrats are anti-values" ... and on and on it goes.

While there are nuggets of truth in all those "stories", there is also a whole lot of falsehood. The onset of the depression of the '30s is now usually linked to a simple story that goes like "stock market bubble, Smoot Hawley, FDT got us out". Part of the magic of being the dominant majority (which the Democrats have been since that time) is that they get to write the schoolbooks. Oddly, people remember people better than they remember facts, dates, and certainly complex economic theorums. "Hoover bad / FDR saint" is a lot of the core of what they remember ... and they tend to to judge the parties and policies on the basis of that casting.

Note another element -- it is MUCH easier to create a single person scapegoat than it is to explain a complex phenomenon in a story that is simple enough to that the common man can grasp it. Conservatives are also hampered by this horrible problem that they really want their stories to not only be true, but it is important that they actually work for the benefit of the country. Since the Democrats are after raw political power, it doesn't matter to them one whit if the story is even remotely true, nor even if the policies it engenders fail miserably. If it keeps Democrats in power, it is "a success".

Thus we have FDR the hero and Hoover the goat, although FDRs poliices never did work to get the country back on track, that was WWII. As Krisol points out though it did by and large keep Democrats in power for 50 years, so for them it was "successful". The task Republicans face is indeed huge -- we require a "story" that faces facts about what happened, proposes real policies that work to move us forward, AND is something that the common man can understand. A tall order indeed.

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