Notes on a Theory…

Thoughts on politics, law, & social science

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Let’s talk about ACA repeal

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So I want to talk about the ACA repeal effort for a minute.

When the House tried this at first, there was a really serious popular mobilization, and it was blocked. People called. They mobbed their representatives’ town halls. They chased down those who refused to hold them. People were angry.  When the first attempt at repeal went down, this was treated by a lot of people as a final result, and a lot of people (not everyone!) stood down.

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Written by David Kaib

June 8, 2017 at 10:42 pm

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The GOP voted to kill people because they favor people dying

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The recent vote by the Republicans in the House repealing the ACA is part of a pattern.

The right has opposed expanding health insurance since forever. They opposed Truman’s proposal for national health insurance. They opposed Medicare and Medicaid. Ronald Reagan insisted that adopting Medicare would be the end of freedom in America, which helped cement his position as a rising conservative star. They opposed national health insurance (proposed by Ted Kennedy) and a more limited health insurance reform proposal from Jimmy Carter.  They opposed Bill Clinton’s efforts to expand access to health care. They opposed the ACA. They fought against the Medicaid expansion.

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Written by David Kaib

May 5, 2017 at 9:58 pm

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Axis 3: What do you have leverage over?

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This is the third post is a series, Some Thoughts on Politics.

leverage

Having established what is important, and then what is changeable, we still aren’t in a position to move forward politically until we ask a final question: what do we have leverage over? Much political talk feels a bit like a bunch of people sitting in their living room watching football having heated arguments about what the coaches on their favored team should do. No matter how well one analyzes the problem, no matter how persuasive the argument, the person on the field who is calling the plays and making player substitutions is completely unaware. Worse still, if you somehow got on the field and offered your expertise, you would likely be hauled off before they heard a word.

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Written by David Kaib

April 20, 2017 at 12:50 pm

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Axis 2: What is changeable?

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This is the second post is a series, Some Thoughts on Politics.

In my last post I argued that the first dimension we need to assess when thinking about political action is What is Important? The next essential dimension is What is changeable?

No matter its importance, political action toward a thing that is not changeable is futile. Of course, this too is not a binary. It’s probable better to talk about the relative difficulty of change rather than a simple yes/no. It is important to see the difference between low hanging fruit and high hanging fruit, between things that will require tremendous resources and those that won’t, between things that can be accomplished relatively quickly and those that will take years to achieve. It’s also important not to conflate difficult to do with impossible to do.

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Written by David Kaib

April 18, 2017 at 1:01 pm

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Axis 1: What is important?

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This is the first post is a series, Some Thoughts on Politics.

Often in political arguments, we rely on binaries. But life is rarely so simple that things can fit comfortably into binary categories without a tremendous loss of clarity. In particular, I want to talk about a series of dimensions along which we have to take positions on when we talk about politics. We have to take positions, but it that doesn’t mean we have to be explicit about it. But we ought to be. Being explicit about it will improve the likelihood that those we are talking with will understand us. Asking others to be explicit about it will increase the chances we’ll understand where they are coming from. If we are to argue, better we argue about our actual disagreements. Better still to argue about our most fundamental disagreements. Besides that, it’s good to be explicit so that our own thinking is clearer, and we are less likely to make mistakes because we haven’t fully thought things through.

The first dimension we should think about when talking about political action is what is important. “Important: yes or no” is a terrible way to do that. The question is always a relative one.

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Written by David Kaib

April 17, 2017 at 3:22 pm

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Some thoughts about politics

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I keep having the same thoughts pop up as I participate in or watch various conversations about politics. I also think that trying to offer frameworks for understanding things differently in the middle of arguments is generally worthless. So I thought instead I could try to spell them out here. They will end up being somewhat abstract, precisely because I do not want to tie them to the controversies of the day, or of last week, etc. I hope they will be read in the spirit in which they are written–not proclamations, but provocations. I may be wrong. And surely nothing I am saying here hasn’t been said before or better by someone else. But hopefully some people will find them useful, which is about the best you can hope for in most conversations. I will plan on linking to them all here. They won’t add up to a theory or anything like that, although I hope writing them will bring me closer to one. I always like reading comments from readers, but I’m especially curious what you think about this, even if your thoughts, like mine, are fluid and difficult to articulate.

Axis 1: What is important?

Axis 2: What is changeable?

Axis 3: What is you have leverage over?

Written by David Kaib

April 17, 2017 at 3:21 pm

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Radio: Political Parties and Social Change

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I was interviewed by David Shen and Zach Schalk for the first episode of their podcast, Square 1. I touch on a lot of the themes I talk about here, but you can hear them instead of read them. The short version is that I am skeptical of the possibility that electoral activity alone can bring about significant change, and emphasize the important of non-electoral activity even in producing electoral outcomes.

You can listen here.

Here are the works I mentioned:

Golden Rule: The Investment Theory of Party Competition and the Logic of Money-Driven Political Systems by Thomas Ferguson

Party Politics in America by Marjorie Randon Hershey

Politics, Parties, & Pressure Groups by V.O. Key

Written by David Kaib

February 13, 2017 at 8:32 pm

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