Michael Kinsley's Guardian column today shows that he deserves his oxymoronic reputation as a smart leftist. It's replete with thoughtful observations about the nature of politics.
Kinsley argues that it's fine to vote for the party instead of the person. We agree, frankly. Neither Kinsley nor we would argue that one must always vote party, but neither is it better always to ignore party.
Where we part company is Kinsley's assertion that it's fine this November to vote for Ds, whom he with wit and style acknowledges have no coherent platform whatsoever, because it is the only way to punish the Rs for their failures.
We disagree. And not just because we're R-ish.
Kinsley is wrong because in such a situation, the punishment does nothing to alleviate the distress. For the sake of argument stipulating Republican "failure" (and we'd prefer to note that we live in difficult times when all policy successes will be marginal at best), we fail to see the advantage of exchanging a group with a failed record but some notion of the way the world works with one with no record and no notion.
Unless, that is, one hopes that with a brief period in the political wilderness, the group with a notion can regroup, reformulate, and be fit to govern again in a short period of time.
But Kinsley doesn't think this, though some Rs evidently do.
Still, can't the group with a notion become the group with a plan while they remain in power? And isn't that better than trusting the corridors of power to a bunch whose core beliefs, if they have them, don't match up with the view of the world held by the people who would elect them? And whose record of governance is no less filled with failure than that of the people whom they seek to replace?
Again, what troubles us about the body politic is not that the Rs have failed but that the Ds, by their adherence to genuinely failed ideologies that keep them from addressing the political mainstream, have not proved themselves worthy of consideration to govern.