Tuesday, December 06, 2005


Resistance to Changing Horses Mid-stream

I don't think this is necessarily a bad attitude (although if someone is driving off a cliff, you do change the driver), but how come some of the same people who are (sometimes correctly) so reluctant "to change horses mid-stream" when it comes to supporting the CiC in a time of war are also, when their favorite team, the business in which they own a fair share of stock, etc., is not doing so well, they demand the coach/manager/CEO be changed, even if what is going wrong is not the fault of the figure-head?

How come people are so ready, when things are not going well, to push for a change of coach/manager/CEO/etc. -- no matter whether the person in charge is the one screwing up or the person in charge is actually making the very best of a bad situation beyond her control, but when it comes to the President they have the attitude: "if we are at war, we must support the President"? Do people see the discrepency in their attitudes? Do people see the danger in their attitude to Presidents -- that such support for a CiC gives a power hungry CiC great incentive to start a war (or at least be less resistant to using military power, if only at a subconcious level) just to maintain the support of the people?

Of course, I must say that there is something about certain leaders that engenders a kind of "don't blame me for but rather support me in these difficult times" devotion. Generally (with the exception of FDR and JFK), in this country, this kind of devotion has applied to Republicans (Lincoln -- who deserved it, until recently, Bush -- who IMHO does not deserve it) and not Democrats (LBJ and Carter). Why the difference? A lot of it comes from people taking cues from the media and other authorities as to how they are expected to behave: if the media, perceived -- quite incorrectly -- by many, to be sceptical and liberal, supports a conservative president, people will certainly decide the president must be worthy of support as they believe the media have every reason not to support the president -- even if in reality the corporate, war mongering -- has there been any war in this country, outside of WWII, which was actually one of our most legitimate wars, which was, in the build up to the war, not propagandized by the media? -- media have every reason to support the president. But is there something historically different about Democratic and Republican Presidents that explains the difference?

Jimmy Carter on The Daily Show a few days ago was remarking that he felt the "don't change horses midstream" mentality is what got Bush re-elected in 2004. Carter estimated that as much as 10-15% of the voting constituency voted for Bush for that reason.

I think the march to war, and the media's complicity in such, calls back to our more primitive urges as humans. It brings our societies back down to the "our tribe vs. your tribe" level of primalism. I think the media recognizes that once the country gets into this mentality, all pretense of patriotism or rational discourse begins to slip away. Plus, it's all about the benjamins, as usual. If war is a glorious patriotic undertaking, as our leaders always want us to believe, then the media's fiscal interests lie with the war hawks. Cynical, I know.
Jimmy Carter on The Daily Show a few days ago was remarking that he felt the "don't change horses midstream" mentality is what got Bush re-elected in 2004 - S. Sam

Come to think of it, that's probably what got me started thinking along these lines.
But my question is -- why do people apply "don't change horses midstream" to (Republican) Presidents and not to business leaders or coaches or ...?
OT, but speaking of Jimmy Carter on The Daily Show, he looked like a giant of a man to me, compared to the present occupant of the White House.

The Iranian hostage crisis, coupled with Reagan supporters' machinations behind the scenes during the crisis, did Carter in. The conventional wisdom is that he was a poor president, but I believe that historians are taking a second look, and their assessment of his presidency is being defined upward.
I'm rather stumped on that question myself. I would like to say that it's because they feel the government is more important to their overall ideological goals, and since such goals are the platform of the modern Republican party, they stick with that support. On the other hand, I find it unfortunately hard to believe that many conservative voters are more pro-government, than pro-business or pro-sports team.

I think part of the answer also lies in the intrinsic discomfort American conservatives have with changes in the government. My mother, a staunch conservative Evangelical, has remarked many times that she thinks election terms should be longer and term limits done away with. Her thinking is that politicians would then spend more time on the issues instead of re-election and we would have consistent leadership that wasn't changing. Given the conservative distaste for change in general, I can see where that ideology comes from.
I would argue that it's the frequency of elections that causes politicians to deal with unpleasant issues. Incumbency is already a problem, especially in the House. If politicians could become even more ensconced, we'd lose the representative nature of our democracy. We'd essentially be a large-group oligarchy (assuming we aren't already).
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