Elections are to a large extent bad showbiz

Wednesday, May 4th, 2022

America, like the rest of the West, is mostly run by permanent bureaucracies, Dominic Cummings reminds us:

Elections are to a large extent bad showbiz. The noise is high but the stakes often amazingly low. The parties scream about each other but generally whether X or Y wins changes an amazingly small fraction of policy, money, or real power — and has little effect on the permanent bureaucracies. (One of the reasons the Brexit referendum was different is it led to much actual weeping across Whitehall on 24/6/16 as the permanent bureaucracies faced something new — real change for them. Trump’s victory was sold as the same but clearly was not.)

The governments don’t control the governments. Conservative parties don’t want to control the governments and don’t know how to even if/when they do want to. Anti-conservative parties largely support the permanent bureaucracies and want more of them more than they want to escape the effects of being bogged down by them. The permanent bureaucracies certainly don’t want anybody elected controlling the governments, and they don’t even run themselves themselves! — nobody ‘runs’ them, everybody can veto everything but nobody has the authority to run them in the way effective organisations are run. The media portrays a ‘conservative’ government actually controlling the government as proto-fascist. And in the US/UK the courts increasingly use administrative law and judicial review to make it impossible for the government to control the government (‘the rule of law’ is now often used as a slogan to justify judges deciding political issues, which is a novel idea and an excellent device for Harvard/Oxbridge/media/officials to control/slow any executive acting outside their Overton Window of acceptable behaviour).

When nobody is in charge, you have chaos. Nobody is in charge of western governments. We see chaos everywhere. We see a chronic inability to think about hard problems under extreme uncertainty, decide and act at speed and scale. We see governments unable to escape the delusion that government largely involves chasing the media all day then cocktails with them by night. The political media is dominated by a subset of graduates who, like Oblonsky in Anna Karenina, largely cannot think for themselves and simply absorb and emit leftist political ‘views’ like clothes fashions.


  1. Bruce says:

    Yes, courts playing politics mean the opposite of the rule of law and also mean openly bribed and threatened judges.

  2. Senexada says:

    A dozen years ago Moldbug said:

    “It’s not that the election changes the staff at TSA or FBI, except for a thin veneer of political appointees. American democracy has long since given up on the dangerous notion that voters can be trusted to replace their government through the electoral process. TSA is TSA, FBI is FBI; they think what they think; they want to feel you up and pwn your computer.

    Thus, in every administration, the agencies are the same agencies and will agitate for the same policies. [...]

    What the political veneer can do, however, is stop things. The White House cannot make an agency anything it is not, or make it do anything it doesn’t want to do. It does not have personnel, budgetary, or even policy control over the “executive branch.” But it has a veto.”

  3. Handle says:

    “What the political veneer can do, however, is stop things. The White House cannot make an agency anything it is not, or make it do anything it doesn’t want to do. It does not have personnel, budgetary, or even policy control over the ‘executive branch.’ But it has a veto.”

    Not true, alas. 99% of CBP wants to do the exact opposite of what they are now doing, that is, building walls and mass deporting unlawful migrants instead of being the welcome wagon and processing their intake forms like the receptionist at a doctor’s office, being travel agents and arranging free transportation to the destination of their choice, and hooking them up with taxpayer-funded NGOs who will make sure they get nicely settled in and receive every manner of welfare benefit. Oh, also, with the help of a large number of military personnel who have been assigned to help out and who also don’t want to. But they all got their orders from that thin veneer of political appointees, and they are obeying those orders. To try to cram all that into ‘just a veto’ is criminal abuse of the English language.

  4. Jim says:

    This guy must have comatose or otherwise non compos mentis between November 2020 and January 2021. We regret to inform him and anyone else who may have been so sadly deprived of higher brain function during such time period, that in November the vote-counters in all and only swing states reportedly found millions of unaccounted mail-in ballots in the dead of night after everyone called the election for Trump and went to bed, and in January tens of thousands of officially unofficially military personnel entered and occupied the U.S. capital.

  5. Jim says:

    *This [nigga] must have [been] comatose or otherwise non compos mentis

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