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Centrist on a White Horse

By ThinkProgress on January 13, 2008 at 10:39 am

"Centrist on a White Horse"

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Ed Kilgore makes a good point about the decline of Unity ’08 into a draft Bloomberg “movement”:

These developments are depressingly predictable and familiar. History is replete with examples of extra-partisan, extra-ideological “populist” movements that take a turn towards the authoritarian desire for a Big Man who can squash the petty, squabbling parliamentarians and govern in the “true” national interest. Mr. Smith often yields to Mr. Bonaparte.

Right. It’s worth saying that I think there’s some real merit to this kind of thinking when it comes to local government issues. There’s a reason why the prospect of a Rudy Giuliani administration is terrifying, but he was a fine mayor. Similarly, the brand of quasi-apolitical technocracy that Michael Bloomberg brought to the mayor’s office made him an excellent mayor with most of Giuliani’s virtues and few of his demerits, but it’s silly as a program for national office. The issues change when you go national, elements of authoritarianism get more scary, the “petty, quabbling” parliamentarians become people of a lot more substance and in general the unit of governance becomes so large that the idea of a transcendent “national interest” becomes more than a little meaningless.

On top of that, something about the global warming issue seems to for whatever reason spawn a disproportionate quantity of weird, vaguely authoritarian anti-political talk — suggestions that not only is this a serious problem which we must tackle, but that’s it’s somehow beyond bargaining or the ordinary cut-and-thrust of elections and interest groups.

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