Mathews: Republicans want a leader, Democrats want a meeting

Wow, can a superficial blowhard like Chris Mathews actually offer a moment of insight?

I heard him being interviewed on “Fair Game with Faith Salie” and he said something to the effect of “Republicans want a leader but Democrats want a meeting.” Now obviously there’s a huge degree of generalization there, and perhaps “conservatives” and “liberals” would be more accurate instead of party designators.

But when I heard that, something clicked with me.

Just as example, here on the board, I have tremendous respect for the knowledge and analytical mind possessed by one Bricker, although I frequently disagree with him. In particular, on a couple of occasions, he and I have reached just a flat disagreement regarding our individual concepts over the nature of government.

Speaking only for myself, I see democratic government as being a manifestation of co-operative decision-making, in which certain people are temporarily given certian levels of authority, but ultimately, that authority belongs to all of us. In short, a president should be in concept, little more than the acting chair of our little meeting, and should be granted no more deference, honor, or respect than he or she grants the rest of us.

This concept is at the base of my objection to granting honorifics or titles to public office holders, for example. I prefer not to refer to a U.S. President John Q. Smith, but rather John Q. Smith, the U.S. president. I believe such a person should not be addressed as “Mr. President,” but solely as “Mr. Smith,” the same degree of honorific that any citizen is due.

It also is at the base of my objection to any notions of executive privilege. The executive is merely, temporarily acting on our behalf and, conceptually speaking, should have no right to withhold information from us regarding his communications while he’s doing this job for us. (Yes, there might be a practical reason for keeping certain military or intelligence operational information secret for a limited time, but that’s an exception, so let’s leave that aside for now.)

I also said in a recent threat (sorry, but my search-fu doesn’t seem to be working at the moment) something to the effect of “as a citizen, I don’t want a leader.”

So is some form of the formulation “Republicans want a leader, Democrats want a meeting” a useful basis for understanding some of the differences in which we see our government? More importantly, does analyzing it in this way offer us any opportunity to reconcile our differing views in a way that we can structure our government so that it meets everyone’s needs?

Or does it offer a basis to persuade those who are wrong about what democratic government should be to change their minds? :smiley:

Interesting insight. I only recently left the Republican party and I look forward to voting for Obama as he looks and acts like someone who will make a great leader.

It seems like Dems have always hoped for another leader like JFK & FDR. Come to think of it, maybe Obama should get himself out there as BHO.


He’s got all sorts of cute sayings that he’s proud of.

Republicans are the Daddy Party and Democrats are the Mommy Party.
Democrats fall in love [with their candidate] but Republicans fall in line [behind theirs]

Those are two that immediately pop to mind.

  1. Your “Chairman of the Board” President style favors primarily administrative skills, I would guess.

IMO, the President needs talents that spread across several different leadership styles, as the situation(s) he/she will face will be varied.

  1. Generalisations about the two parties, like you have done in your OP, may trap you into making an invalid assumption about specific individuals or issues involved. Use with caution.

But IMO yes, understanding other viewpoints opens the way to usefull debate, and, hopefully, workable compromises that the majority of us can live with, which is what a democracy needs.

It also can provide an indication of the path you need to take to convince someone to lean towards your “solution”.

There may be more than one “right way” to achieve a particular goal, so be open to ideas from “the dark side”.

He may have a decent general point about the personality types of Republicans and Democrats, but it sounds exactly like the kind of insight that falls apart under scrutiny. ETA: To put it another way, it’s actually more of an aphorism than an insight.

Two problems spring to mind with this observation: the first is that a lot of Democrats love Obama for his leader-y, visionary-type personal qualities, although it’s also true that he talks a lot about building consensus and so on. The second is that in my experience, members of both parties - elected officials or citizens - are equally quick to appeal to the old populem when they think a majority of people agree with their ideas, and to disregard it if “the people” are underinformed or wrong. If Matthews was correct about this, you’d expect Democrats to talk about “what the people want” a lot more than Republicans do, and I don’t think that’s the case.

Clealry the Republicans want someone who will never admit they are wrong and the Democrats want someone who is descended from the heavens to save the world.

What? I am being completely objective.

Totally /signed! :smiley:

What’s interestign is that I think not only is Mathew’s right, this division goes all the way back to early America, and the Federalist/Republucan divide.

The Federalists favored a strong central government. Maybe not quite as strong as we have right now, but with a fairly powerful President not beholden to Congress. They were the "republican"political party led by John Adams and Hamilton. The Madison and Jefferson-led Republicans (I know, the names are confusing to us now) were the “pure democracy” party who wanted a single legislative body with complete powers, much like Revolutionary France.

Eventually the Federalists started calling themselves Whigs, and the Republicans became the Democrat-Republicans, and then just Democrats. And the Whigs broke up and a new party formed called the Republicans. There is a pretty fierce intellectual tradition in both parties. Regional trends vary over time.

I just figured Americans voted for Republicans because they wanted someone to cut taxes, brutalize criminals and rule them like a king.