The Ratchet Effect …

A commenter calling himself “Lizard” at 4&20 Blackbirds put up the following, which is a quote taken from another place. Apparently it is a concept widely understood in economics – even Malthusians use it. But for this purpose, it is used to describe the dynamic between Democrats and Republicans in our faux-democratic system.

“The American political system, since at least 1968, has been operating like a ratchet, and both parties — Republicans and Democrats — play crucial, mutually reinforcing roles in its operation. The electoral ratchet permits movement only in the rightward direction. The Republican role is fairly clear; the Republicans apply the torque that rotates the thing rightward.”

“The Democrats’ role is a little less obvious. The Democrats are the pawl. They don’t resist the rightward movement — they let it happen — but whenever the rightward force slackens momentarily, for whatever reason, the Democrats click into place and keep the machine from rotating back to the left. Here’s how it works. In every election year, the Democrats come and tell us that the country has moved to the right, and so the Democratic Party has to move right too in the name of realism and electability. Gotta keep these right-wing madmen out of the White House, no matter what it takes.”

If you came to this website today because you like my inability to economize on words, you came to the wrong place. He nailed it.

5 thoughts on “The Ratchet Effect …

  1. That’s right! Those Democrats! What was it they say, again? “To stop them, you’ve got to reach the reasonable and conflicted…people.” Those Democrats, always trashing the True Liberals as “extremists,” you know, that “turn off the mainstream,” and garbage like that!


    1. How clever of you to conflate an abortion comment with this. The abortion debate is polarized and most people are unreachable. But there are those who are “conflicted” and who can be turned.

      I have never used the expression “true liberals” and am used to being branded “extremist” by the likes of you, most notably during this time when you are undercutting the health care reform movement.


      1. Hyperbole ‘R’ Us.

        when you are undercutting the health care reform movement.

        He wasn’t undercutting anything, Mark. He was disagreeing with you on a blog.

        The abortion debate is polarized and most people are unreachable.

        Sounds kinda like the health care debate, yes?


        1. 1) You was generic, as you surely know -Democrats.

          2) No, not at all like the health care debate. You are presenting the Democratic position as a reasonable alternative when it is a complete sellout. To oppose it is not to be polarized, but rather to be merely reasonable.


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