“Lesser-evil-ism” and the ‘Ratchet Effect’
Today’s onslaught of desperate rationalizations from paranoid faux progressives who find themselves reduced to NAME CALLING rants when their non-arguments fall flat seems perfect timing for this post.
In honor of the ‘left–right’ paradigm (and hopefully to clarify some things for some folks…), we give you “the Ratchet Effect”….‘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.
II. The ratchet effect
The ratchet is a simple, ubiquitous, ancient bit of machinery. There’s one in your bicycle wheel (it allows you to coast without pedaling), there’s one in your watch (if you’re the old-fashioned type and have a mechanical watch) and there’s one in the jib sheet winches of your boat (if you’re a yachtsman; but then in that case you probably aren’t reading this book). What the ratchet does is permit rotation in one direction but not in the other. Here’s a diagram:
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.
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