Exploring the Eclipse of Equality

Posts Tagged ‘Political Momentum’

The Endogeneity of Might and Right: “Uncle Mo” and American Politics

In Domestic Politics on March 29, 2010 at 10:07 am

Just before the big health care vote on Sunday, I wrote about the famous Clinton line from 2002 in which he said that the American people occasionally prefer someone who is strong and wrong to someone who seems weak and right.

Let’s call this the endogeneity of might and right problem. It works like this, if I don’t know how the world works, I have to rely upon signals from others. Much of what I mean by the word “works” is that it produces practical effects that are better to those that now obtain. Although I might prefer the optimum, I would prefer the better to the worse. This means that right action in practical life depends on what is possible. What is possible is a function of power or might.

This gets us to the endogeneity of might and right problem. Endogeneity here just means that we have a chicken and the egg problem. It is hard to know which one causes the other and what one would be without the other. They are related to one another in iterative cycles. Something is right if it works; it works if we recognize the virtue in its conception.

Although the power to produce effects is the most crucial, the power to frame them might matter nearly as much. This is why the right is so eager to work the refs Read the rest of this entry »

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