Two very different pieces that are strangely related:
They both are giving us a foreshadow of things to come. Well, the same thing, but viewed from different angles.
Fair Warning! The first is from The Bulwark, and by the time you get to Gaetz portion of the essay, you probably already know where it is going:
Does it matter to his future political prospects that Matt Gaetz doesn’t advance legislation? Does it matter that Madison Cawthorn staffed up his office with comms people? Does it matter that Marjorie Taylor Greene doesn’t have committee assignments?
Well, these quirks would matter in a system where legislative accomplishments influenced voter behavior. But the preponderance of evidence suggests that Republican voters don’t care about tangible government outcomes.
They don’t care whether or not a border wall is built, or who would have (theoretically) paid for it. They don’t care about whether or not the government fails to manage a global pandemic, killing hundreds of thousands of their fellow citizens. They don’t care if unemployment is up—or down. They don’t care about stimulus checks. Or the national debt…
This is post-scarcity politics. Republican voters—a group distinct from Conservatism Inc.—no longer have any concrete outcomes that they want from government.
What they have, instead, is a lifestyle brand.
And if you want to move up the ladder within a brand network, you don’t do it by governing or making policy.
You do it by getting attention.
And the second link is from Dan Pfeiffer’s substack:
The battle lines have been drawn. Democrats are running on an agenda of steady leadership, vaccinating people, distributing $1400 relief checks, and rebuilding America’s infrastructure. Republicans are talking about Dr. Seuss, complaining about the “wokeness” of Major League Baseball, and Trumping up cancel culture controversies. Ignoring policy and obsessing about seemingly trite cultural issues is all the rage in the Republican Party.
The Cancel Culture crusade is not just the province of the blowhards on Fox News. The Republican Party leadership is making it a central part of their strategy…
Many Democrats — myself included — have mocked Republicans for focusing on trivialities during such a serious time. But there is a strategic logic to shifting the political battlefield from the economy to a cultural clash, as well as polling evidence that this shift packs more political power than many assume.
Heading into 2022, I would rather be the party passing the broadly popular agenda than the one trying to distract from that popular agenda. But the (cancel) culture wars aren’t going anywhere. Democrats must understand what the Republicans are doing and develop a plan to fight back.
So you see, they come from a similar place. If you have an empty half an hour to read them both, you’ll see that they connect in many ways: While we may be winning legislatively (as Pfeiffer asserts), we are losing in the lifestyle branding (Bulwark), and in the age of Influencers, that actually is important.
Give ’em a read.