January 5, 2010

Group Think in DC

As I read headlines today, and thought about how the Obama administration is responding to something, it occurred to me that they are suffering from group think.

This isn't a throw-away comment, it is more of a diagnosis of a psychological illness on a social level. It wouldn't be so bad if this illness was affecting some crossroad town in somewhere USA. Sure, that place might be destroying some people's lives, but the damage of the socio-psychological illness would be isolated.

However, in the case of the group-think in Washington, DC, the illness is at the center of power where decisions are made, or aren't made, that affect the world. OK, so I'm saying the obvious and it's even got a label: Beltway Mentality. There are even blog posts about "fighting beltway mentality." I remember the ladder-climbers in DC, even in the progressive organizations supposedly devoted to good causes. But it's more than just ladder-climbing... it's ... group think. Which is part of the reason I left the DC scene.

So, today when I experienced that natural reaction of, "Wow. Our leaders have group think," in the sense of a clinical observation is.... was just a wee bit sobering and frightening.

Just saying the obvious. I suppose we should fight DC group think.




libhom said...

A lot of this group think is paid for by wealthy and corporate interests. I think there is an interesting follow the money analysis to be done on this.

Pragpro said...

It's always a political science problem, how to prevent the old ivory tower/group think/the careerist attitudes, at least from my perspective the internet over the last ten years at least makes all attitudes available where as in the 1990s a few select think tanks/journals/NGOs created the whole reality. Now we need better users of this information, and cultural attitudes that benefits learners and the intellectually curious and then incorporation into the policy option selection process. This takes time like how we don't govern the same way as we did in 1940 or 1840. The anti-intellectual sentiment of the nation's likely voters doesn't help, but maybe intellectuals need to communicate better.

So I think we should concentrate on solution like Federal Election Commission reform to include not only Dems and Republicans but Greens and Libertarians, that's the only way to break up a trust and to recognize a dimension that was there but just unseen. The Democrats and The Republicans doesn't describe the ten-twelve real political power spheres. The 30 Democrats in the Senate are in another Party then the other 30, so that word becomes meaningless other then a self-describer. Progressives, Yellow Dogs, Blue Dogs, some people who haven't realigned yet. Same for the GOP, except they chopped off support from your Chafees and Rockefeller Republicans swiftly over ten years, and have nothing to show for it, but more splits. So long as you have firedoglake competing with fivethirtyeight, or The Economist, Blueprint, The New Republic, The Nation, and the Utne Reader, etc., nobody should be thinking group on the center-left as much as the the right, because the differences between the weekly standard and the national review are there but mild. The Right is homogenized by nature. The Difference between Ben Nelson and Bernie Sanders are much more robust then those between Lindsey Graham and Inhoffe.

As far as the administration. I see Elizabeth Warren and Orszag, now do they get in the same room with POTUS? Likely. Obama coming from a Law Review and Senate background loves debate. I think Obama and his blackberry get around to Ezra Klein and all the other intel sources. For all our kvetching this guy is as progressive as an electable President can get.

GDAEman said...

LibHom, there is definitely a "follow-the-money" factor, which can be parsed out from the group-think notion, though there is some overlap even on that count.

PragPro, you remind me of a book I picked up at our "Free Book" shop entitled "10 Steps to Repair American Democracy" by Steven Hill. He gets into some of the electoral issues, but also includes topics like "Overhaul the US Senate," "Reclaim the Airwaves," and "Reform the Supreme Court."