Smartisan

I thought I invented Smartisan about five years ago but, if Google doesn’t think so, it must not be true. A Chinese consumer electronics company has all of the top search rankings.

Does smartisan need a definition to distinguish it from its rhyming antonym?

I prefer it to partisan because; to me at least, smartisan implies governing and solving problems rather than just contesting elections.

I don’t think my word is winning.

Right now, the partisan divide flashes like the red lights on police cars accompanied by the sound of submarine klaxons from old war movies. The coastal ribbons of blue are at war with red flyover country though please don’t read me to say the opposite is not equally true.

Nobody can agree to anything that does not support his side of the partisan divide. Imagine the sports page under those rules.

“The Cubs won the World Series.”

“Fake news. No they didn’t.”

“The Patriots won the Super Bowl.”

“Fake news. No they didn’t.”

Those conversations don’t happen because not even rabid sports fans are that partisan.

Amanda Taub had a story in The New York Times called “The Real Story About Fake News is Partisanship.”

Two sentences especially caught my eye:

“Americans’ deep bias against the political party they oppose is so strong that it acts as a kind of partisan prism for facts, refracting a different reality to Republicans than to Democrats.”

“You want to show others that Republicans are bad or Democrats are bad, and your tribe is good. Social media provides a unique opportunity to publicly declare to the world what your beliefs are and how willing you are to denigrate the opposition and reinforce your own political candidates.”

For years I have been trying to imagine what it is that Americans like about their political parties. I sure can’t think of much. The question I should have been asking is what do Americans hate about the other party. That is a far easier answer. Thank you Amanda.

If the United States had a parliamentary system, plans for a “no confidence” vote would be well underway unless, of course, the vote had already happened. Since we don’t have that system there are no rules for how such a process would work but, if we did, I suspect the vote would be close.

Few, if any, have considered what would happen after such a no-confidence vote. That is the sort of thing smartisans think about.

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Haven Pell

At the conclusion of the Constitutional Convention of 1787, a woman asked Benjamin Franklin, “Well, Doctor, what have we got, a republic or a monarchy?” Without hesitation, Franklin replied, “A republic, if you can keep it.”

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5 comments

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  • When the Founding Fathers founded our country, I don’t think they anticipated the partisan
    gridlock now produced by our two political parties.

    I sometimes think a parliamentary system might be better. Such systems generally produce
    working majorities in their parliaments headed by their prime minister. This arrangement allows for the both the executive branch and the legislative branch to work together towards
    common legislative and political goals. But in our country our people often elect a president
    from one party, and a legislature dominated by the opposing party. For the last 25 years this system hasn’t worked very well, because for various reasons not to be contemplated at this time our two parties have devolved into warring camps characterized by a ferocity not unlike those of opposing headhunter clans in the New Guinea highlands.

    Some people say this is a good thing. Gridlock means the government can’t do much, and because government usually screws up what it is trying to accomplish, or tries to accomplish things it shouldn’t, gridlock is good.

    I wonder. Perhaps a system where clear majorities are achieved in the legislatures, headed by an executive branch in political agreement with those majorities would allow government to
    actually achieve things desired by a majority of its people. If government then screwed up or failed to produce beneficial outcomes, at least something was attempted, and can subsequently be rejected, and replaced by other policies and political goals.

    And perhaps it can at least be imagined that government from time to time might do things perceived by a majority of the people as beneficial to their interests, and even to the interests of the country as a whole.

    Sometimes I think such a system might be better, where things are tried, and put into place, there to be observed by all as successful, or as failure. Our current system seems to assume in most instances failure is inevitable, and hence accepts the notion that doing nothing beats inevitable failure. Obamacare and the Iran deal come to mind as recent and sole achievements by the Obama administration. Many say, better to have done nothing than to have done these lousy deals.

    I say, better to do them, and then reform them or reject them and replace them, because if nothing was ever done, nothing would be done in reaction to make improvements, improvements suggested by the hard judgement of reality.

    It would be easier to try things out with clear and matching majorities in both branches of government. Obama had a majority for two years, during which time he put through Obamacare. Now it is broadly perceived that Obamacare must be reformed and/or replaced.
    Perhaps this will yield a better system. Obamacare did achieve something very important: it
    provided healthcare to many millions of Americans who had no health care plan whatsoever.
    And any new plan will be obliged to pursue and achieve the same goal.

    Isn’t that all to the good? Or is it better to just do….nothing, and never try to improve the lives
    of American citizens?

    • I have received countless emails from enraged New Guinea headhunters pointing out that they get along with each other far better than do Democrats and Republicans.

      Fortunately, I believe I have fended off protracted and costly litigation.

  • Partisan-Smartisan. Don’t we love these verbals twists laden with meaning.

    I had one the other day I wish I could have slipped to Betsy DeVos in anticipation of her Senate confirmation hearing. She might have responded to a hostile, presumably Democratic, interogator thus-ly:

    “Well Senator, if you look past the rhetoric and at the actual performance data between Charter and Public Schools, one has to conclude the vast superiority of the former. The issue is settled science and any other conclusion would label you as an Education Denier”

    • If I am ever President (God forbid) there is a Sean Spicer role for you but I won’t be telling you what to say. You are better at it.

  • The Parlimentary system providing a chief exec from w/i its’ ranks. increases the “Political Industry” nature of politics. England has experienced “direct” election by way of Britext and the political types are all a flutter how regain control.
    Trump is the ultimate “direct” election and confirms the importance of voters’ ability to over rule the political industry (HRC)/parliamentary system.
    Obama could of been viewed in the same way – no real experience in elected positions. Voters said no to political elites (HRC) and the results were ???
    We seem to of survived Obama and the same will be true of Trump. Our diversity is our strength and counter to those who would “rule” the USA.
    We will NOT be ruled, we will allow a Gvt to provide services for common use – roads, roads, roads – but otherwise “get thee hence” 🙂