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When the means forget they weren’t the end

January 27, 2010

Yesterday, in discussing Senator Bayh’s warning about a “political catastrophe of biblical proportions,” Ezra Klein articulated what’s been eating at the edge of my brain for a few days.

I’ll just note that the “catastrophe of biblical proportions” that Bayh is referring to is not that health-care reform doesn’t pass and hundreds of thousands of people die unnecessary deaths. It’s not that the Congress is unable to pass a second stimulus and millions of Americans are jobless, anxious and uninsured for years longer than necessary. It’s that Democrats lose a bunch of seats in the midterm elections.

Politicians have a tendency of talking about the consequences of elections as if they’re very real and the consequences of policy as if they’re very abstract.

It’s exactly this–this grand confusion between goals and the means by which we attain those goals.  Having Democrats retain their majority in Congress is a means, not an end.  And the sooner they get that straight, the sooner I’ll be able to care whether or not they get reelected.

Jonas

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