Dem: Elizabeth Warren sent me an email. A few years ago, while she was pitching a group of congressmen on the benefits of her Consumer Protection Agency, Representative Michael Grimm from New York interrupted her, “I don’t believe in government.” That shocked Elizabeth. It shocks me. You claimed, Healing begins with a diagnosis. As The Man said, “Please proceed, Governor.”
Pol sci: Happily, but first as a citizen. “Representative Grimm, you’ve infiltrated our government at a high level in order to destroy it. You’re a domestic terrorist.”
Dem: Pow! Meanwhile, what did you mean, “Healing begins with a diagnosis?”
Pol sci: Imagine I’m teaching Government 101. Fundamentally, government integrates the Moral Sense with Common Sense. The two legislative bodies, elected representatives of the people, serve as conduits for the group’s problems by offering bills for their remedy, These bills, whether sponsored by Democrats or Republicans, have a factual and moral dimension.
Dem: You’re not going to say Republicans handle one dimension and Democrats the other?
Pol sci: Absolutely not. However, we know from Schmidts’s Law that 47% of the political population is Republican and 47% is Democratic. It’s an historical fact that The Right emphasizes the moral, The Left the factual. Government is the vehicle for reconciling the two.
Dem: And there’s your diagnosis. That’s simple enough. It spares us a boring civics lesson by Herr Professor.
Pol sci: Both parties have to identify the facts and both have to make a judgment on the basis of the facts.
Dem: So then the sickness in our government is that presently the Republicans formulate The Moral while disregarding facts, like climate change.
Pol sci: The Moral has become ideological, not instrumental, and that’s the bacillus responsible for the Republicans’ illness. It’s a tough diagnosis. It exonerates the Democrats, so, of course, it’s hopelessly biased.
Dem: That was my first thought.
Pol sci: Everyone’s first thought! “You should always provide ‘On the other hand.'” When that’s not true, and you extend that “other hand,” you’ll find it suffers palsy. A diagnosis needs accuracy, and, in this matter, it takes courage to violate, seemingly, fair play. The truth is the sickness in our body politic is that the Republicans suffer from concrete thinking, specifically, the Moral Sense is expressed ideologically, a metaphysical zone inaccessible to physical reality, that is, data from common sense. Denial of climate change is an excellent example. The Republican fixation on The Deficit, Cut Spending, Grover Norquist’s No New Taxes Pledge has a metaphysical reality, not relevant to common sense, which it ignores.
Dem: And all we have to do is shove that bitter medicine down Mitch McConnell’s throat. Are you kidding me?
Pol sci: Robert Koch identified the tubercle bacillus, the cause of an unimaginably devastating plague. One in seven folks died of tuberculosis. In 1870, life expectancy was 36 years. Koch made a truly inspired diagnosis. He made the White Plague a physical reality. It was a breathtaking conceptual break-through. It made tuberculosis a workable problem. He then claimed he had found a cure. That was an unspeakable disaster.
Dem: All right, we’ll stick to the diagnosis. Biology is responsible for the Moral Sense, our five senses for common sense. The interrelationship between the two is our responsibility, both Republicans and Democrats.
Pol sci: In its deep structure, politics is a contest, a fierce blood sport, but, fundamentally, one based on competition not rivalry between Darwin’s Moral Sense and Freud’s Sexualized Body Ego. (Abortion, Same-Sex Marriage, Stature of Women, Food Stamps etc.) It’s by far the most important “Game” on the planet.
Dem: Brevity is the soul of wit. On those grounds, your diagnosis may qualify, even as inspired.
Pol sci: On the other hand, it may qualify as sancta simplicitas.