Les Miserables and Politics

In part,  Les Miserables is about the “common good” that all parties understood as possible–we see each of their dreams for a different life; all for a more stable and positive kind. All parties had different pathways for achieving it: the protagonist did what the heart says it right; the antagonist did what the law says is right. It’s true  that conservatives strongly believe that there will always exist great inequality in the world; while some liberals don’t.

On the one hand, Obama promotes public policy that is more geared towards the middle class–given the same amount of money–than conservatives. And, to the chagrin of most economists, supply-side economics rules the  conservative agenda (since the 18980s). Meaning, on the other hand, Republicans set Supply-side so strongly (less taxes = more growth) as the agenda that they ban all legislation that would mean an increase in taxes. The law in Les Miserables showcases a law that is blind to  context–to the context of being humane and reasonable, to heart; and his is a lesson for the current Congress.

Supply-side economics is dominant in the Republican Party. It is one of a few ideological tenets explaining why John B’s Plan B failed–his own bill in his own house; a vote of no confidence for anyone who dares raise taxes, even if, just sayin’, Obama’s tax rate for the rich is little compared to Reagan’s 1983 rate. So what is the direction of the “common good.” Do the people set the agenda for Washington? Will the heart of the people triumph–the common good required by them all to achieve their dreams!?

The movie, set in old French times, reveals discontent from all sides of society with the de facto and de jure status quo. Call this position S. Each party holds a unique “new common good status quo” understanding regarding what would provide them happiness. These different positions (A for antagonist, P for protagonist, C for college students dreaming of utopia, R for the prisoners, H for homeless, Y for rich, and J for clergy–each truly believe that their position within the structure of the status quo (de facto and de jure) must alter the power structure in order advance each party’s “common good” pareto-optimal position–an improvement from the status quo. Admittedly, A’s main role is to enforce the status quo, and his ultimate suicide is a failure to endogenously change the law in order to allow for P’s legal existence (i.e., common good).

Perhaps a rudimentary spatial chart (think Downs): Hypothesis 1 and 2.


Type:   Authoritarianism                                  Liberalism                                    Republicanism

H1. |———————-A—————P———Y–R————-H———————C——-J—————-|

H2. |—-Obama’s NDAA——————-ObamaCare————————-Economic Gardening–|


So, where does the law, A, exist in your country? Conversely, the issue at stake here is how the government (or one citizen) can help facilitate economic growth–indeed a rising of all boats, from yachts to canoes, given the budget from the people. Economic gardening, for instance, can be accomplished with a small portion of the citizen’s money for the common good of economic growth–that Americans view as pragmatic expenses for the common good in accordance with republicanism.

And so we may clap violently in praise of the performance in Les Miserables…for the story. If so, then, the next day we should go to work with a little bit of empathy for each other’s differing needs and pathways to achieving what we all know is happening–movement away from the status quo. How many committed suicide today? Is the system moving towards stability and a better common good? Stability and a worse common good? Instability and a greater common good? Or instability and a worse common good? Or, are we becoming more liberal, or republican, or authoritarian?

Perchance the suicide of A at the end represented the elimination of authoritarianism from the system, thereby providing liberalism and republicanism more opportunity? What do you see in politics? How do the differing paths of Republicans and Democrats advance (or not advance) their common good party platform?


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