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Political Incoherence

I take a bit of amusement in the recent "Obama is a Republican" meme (for example, see this article.  Not that long ago, Democrats were cheering that their man won and it showed that the country was against the Republican ideology.  Now many seem to be excusing faults they see in the president by claiming he's really not one of them anyway.

I shouldn't really be amused by this incoherence though.  Even if all of its members are consistent in their preferences, the preferences of a crowd of people need not be consistent.  Add on the "me too" nature of memes and there is no real reason we should expect rational consistency in the public opinions of any large group over time.

That said, I think the "Obama is a Republican" meme is still a bit incoherent.  Think about a big crowd milling around a convention center floor.  Lots of people and hard to move.    Some of the vendors have signs that they show above their booths so that people who are specifically interested in them can move towards their known location.  Other vendors might have representatives moving their the crowd gathering attention where they are.  (If you prefer, think of store fronts and buskers on a square with active street life.  It may be a better picture, but I rejected it because it implies inequality in the two actions.)  Both strategies -- maintain a known position and advertise it vs go too where the concentrations of people are and recruit them -- make sense and a mixed strategy plus a booth that changes location each year -- to sit in different parts of the traffic flow and positioned with different neighbors -- is probably most common in convention vendors and in politics.

In that analogy, it seems like the "Obama is a Republican" meme is saying that the president is standing where the Republicans used to have a booth.   Ok, but not very interesting unless you assume that your favorite vendor is allowed to change over time, but the ones you don't like aren't.  The more interesting question is whether the Democrats have a booth there and he is standing next to it, or whether he is a wandering representative who has moved far from the rest of the Democratic representatives?  

Side thoughts because I like the analogy.

* I think I agree with the characterization that Republicans would prefer the booths were more important than the wandering sales reps, and that the booths mostly stayed in place year after year.

* I think there is a tradition in the Democrats which believes in the sales rep approach as being pragmatic, but then also complains that their message is incoherent.

* The convention is hosted by the two big vendors.  Everyone else pays much more, gets a smaller booth and is much less likely to be on the planels or giving invited talks.

Not really related to the analogy, but I like the hand-wringing over the Third Way and Blue Dog Democrats in the way as liking the above meme.  A party in the position of trying to use the election results to imply support for an agenda and at the same time trying to reject the policies of some members of the party, which calls into question the actual amount of support for the approved part of the agenda.


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