Kevin Drum has a post up today reacting to various political writers tackling whether, and why politics is boring. Drum and writer George Packer focus on the often-pointless gridlock of Washington as the principle problem — whoever gets elected will never be able to get anything done either way due to fanatical opposition of the other party.
Myself, I find presidential politics boring — no, depressing — because after Citizens United, the primaries are over long before they begin. The plutocrats of each side pick their candidate in a smoke-filled room not long after the last presidential election, and that is that; the actual primaries are just for show. 2008 was the last time the outcome of either primary process was an open question, but even in 2000 the SFR largely determined the outcome. Bush’s primary opponents didn’t really have a prayer and nobody even bothered to run against Gore, other than Bill Bradley’s vanity campaign.
This go-around, Hillary’s coronation for 2016 was sealed long before even the 2012 elections were over. Martin O’Malley will fill the Bill Bradley role for her, and can expect the same level of success. And as for Jeb Bush’s selection, the machinations of the right-leaning SFR were made clear in this NYT piece as they came together to rebuff Mitt Romney’s overtures for their support last January — and the implication was that they had made their decision long before then. Establishment men such as George Shultz and Charles Schwab had already decided that yet another Bush will be their man for 2016, and the primaries will be a formality. I’m sure the GOP will have some lively televised debates as with last go-around, but they will serve as nothing more than audition tapes for Cruz and Rubio for when they angle for their FoxNews commentator slots after their Senate careers are up.
The primaries have become just as scripted as each party’s national conventions.
In sum, the presidential primary horse-race is boring because there is no horse-race. Not anymore, at least. And the general is just as boring, but for a different reason: both candidates are guaranteed to pursue the interests of the 0.1% first and foremost. There is no question that Hillary and Jeb both favor these shitty wars in the Middle East that benefit nobody but the aforementioned 0.1%… that serves as one great (i.e. horribly depressing) example. Or that both favor mass immigration of low-skilled aliens purely to depress real wages of the working class and therefore benefit the profits of… yep, the 0.1%. Or that the heiress (estate) tax that purely affects the 0.1% will disappear within the next few years under either president, while regressive taxes and taxes-in-kind for the workers will just go up and up. Obama, to his credit, does oppose this last outrage; but does anyone seriously doubt that President Hillary would allow it under her watch, perhaps as a rider added at the last minute to some unrelated bill?
So yes, unless your family net worth is into nine digits, there is nothing about the political process that isn’t both boring and depressing.