Political Thoughts

It may come as no surprise to some of you that I actually enjoy — yes, enjoy — watching political conventions. I’ve spent some time watching them over the past two weeks.

McCain has yet to speak tonight as I write this, but I’ve got to get out a few comments.

First of all, both parties of course were attacking the presidential candidate of the other. But did you notice a key difference? The Democrats attacked McCain on policy, while the McCain people attacked Obama on biography. VP nominee Palin even went so far as to mock Obama’s work 20 years ago as a community organizer. I think that is incredibly telling. It seems to me to indicate that the Republicans know that their policies aren’t working, and are grasping at straws to find something else. There is plenty in McCain’s biography that the Democrats could go after — his involvement in one of the worst scandals in the Senate, for instance — but they aren’t.

What about the other difference? Hope vs. fear. Obama’s speech last week was truly inspiring. I don’t think I’ve ever been inspired by a politician before. Make no mistake about it, he set the bar for himself incredibly high. I don’t think anybody since Kennedy has done that. Obama realizes that there are things we must do as a country, and he also emphasized that the “ask not what your country can do for you” theme. Watching Giulianni and Palin was an exercise in fear-mongering. It’s a constant stream of “9/11 MUSLIM OIL SHORTAGE TERRORISM NUCLEAR BIN LADEN IRAN GAS PRICES RED ALERT PANIC PANIC PANIC MEXICANS 9/11 9/11 9/11 SCARY WAR WAR WAR.” It’s as if they have discovered M-x spook RET in Emacs.

The Democrats, on the other hand, are talking about reducing health care costs, making sure everyone is covered, ending war, making the economy better for working-class people. It’s an interesting disconnect that Obama highlighted well: McCain has said that the American economy has done well over the past 8 years. And indeed, by some “traditional” measures, such as productivity or GDP, it has. But the vast majority of Americans are not better off today than they were 8 years ago. Obama argues that the way McCain measures economic success is way off; our economy is not doing well if the vast majority of regular Americans are not doing well.

Also telling was how both candidates promised to reach across party lines (Bush promised that too). One actually is working to do it. Take abortion, for example. Obama said that he doesn’t agree with the pro-lifers, but surely everyone can agree that providing better funding and support for alternatives to abortion such that it becomes incredibly rare is a good thing. Where’s McCain looking for common ground? And then, of course, we have Palin wanting her family to be off limits — but only when it’s convenient to her.

I’ve voted in the past, but usually as a vote against someone rather than a vote for someone. This year, I’ll make a single vote and do both.

6 thoughts on “Political Thoughts

  1. Except that the Democrats aren’t talking about ending war, they are just looking to shift focus from Iraq to Afghanistan. His stand on civil rights is also weak, supporting civil unions is not equal treatment in any stretch of the imagination.

  2. First off, you mentioned “the Republicans know that their policies aren’t working” which isn’t actually true. The Republican Party’s policies have remained generally unchanged throughout its >150-year history. The disconnect going on is that: 1) the Republican Party’s rhetoric doesn’t match their results; 2) the Party’s leaders have, for at least the past 50 years, never admitted the gap between what they say and what they do; and 3) said Party leaders (mostly successfully) misdirect attention away from said gap by a constant resort to Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt (AKA, FUD), although the scapegoat-du-jour is also changed continually.

    The main problem, in my opinion, is that the Democratic Party, responds to the FUD campaign by soliciting the use of political forces to solve social problems. This is such a problem, because Republicans rightly identify – at least to those sympathetic to their position – those forces as being wrongfully applied. Republicans do NOT, however, identify the political machinery itself as the problem, unless and exactly when, they are unable to marshal or coax the political will needed to abolish the offending machinery. E.g., the “Civil” War, and post-war “Reconstruction”, was never about putting white peoples in jeopardy in order to free blacks from slavery, but rather, the ascendancy of North-Central US-based mercantile/political power over the old South Central-based agricultural/social power. Thus, the simultaneous lauding of the South as filled with gallant, but misguided fighters, and the suppression in the national conscious of the long-predating southern colonies for the late-comer Puritans and Pilgrims (different groups, BTW) of the 1620 Mayflower Compact.

    But I digress.

    The important thing to take away is: Republicans yak about “freedom” and “strength” all the time, but they never deliver it. At least the Democrats try to stay true to their populist-protective roots, and have even laudably expanded the definition of who deserves to be “protected”, just at the expense of fostering political solutions to fundamentally non-political problems.

  3. Republicans give lip service to freedom and liberty but usually deliver a fascist form of socialism. Democrats talk about what they want to deliver, which is more of a communist form of socialism. Both systems have been tried multiple times over the ages. Both systems rapidly self destruct time and time again.

    A constitutional republic like the one that was formed in Pennsylvania in 1786-1789 would work well, except that everybody seemed to ignore it and no sooner was it penned than people set out working for its destruction, sometimes by the very people who helped make it (e.g. John Adams and The Alien and Sedition Acts). The problem is that to get any semblance of the freedom promised by the U.S. Constitution, enough people have to vote for candidates who read, understand, and know what that document is about. This almost automatically precludes voting for any national level candidates that are members of the Dems or Repubs. (I say “almost” because occasionally you can find a Dem or Repub candidate for the Senate or House of Reps that qualifies as someone that is for freedom and for the constitution.) It always precludes voting straight party ticket for ANY party, including third parties such as the Green Party, the Libertarian Party, and the Constitution Party.

    Maybe if enough people start voting for the right person and stop voting for the lesser of two evils and especially stop voting for their party’s candidate just because that’s who was nominated, we could arrive at a point where NO party is favored by law and candidates of all parties try their hardest to uphold liberty and the constitution. Despite this remote hope I have, I fear that our nation will collapse from its own weight before that happens.

  4. I always find it funny reading or hearing people talk about how one side (e.g. Republicans) are all talk but don’t deliver, and the other side (e.g. Democrats) do.

    Do you people really believe that? You don’t see that *both* sides are only serving their own best interest?

    For example, Clinton is a democrat, which is usually called a “liberal”, yet he had two pretty conservative terms. Bush is a republican, supposed to be a “conservative”, yet the government gained more power in his time then…. ever?

    Personally I don’t see any way to fix the U.S. government (thank God I don’t live there anymore). I can’t picture anything that could be done to it to make it as good as existing countries.

    For example, if socialism is your thing, why work so hard to get the U.S. there? Just move to Sweden. You’ll be paying really high taxes, but at least you *get* something for it (1 year off if your wife has a baby! decent health care for free, full education paid).

    Want smaller goverment with less taxes? There are several countries that fit that bill and they *still* have better health cost-to-coverage ratio then the U.S.

    It’s not fixable and even if it is, it’s not worth the unimaginable effort.

    1. Anything is fixable. It might be hard, but it is doable.

      Every country has its problems, too. There is no panacea on the planet.

      Personally, though I think our current government leaves an incredible amount to be desired, the form of central government isn’t really the top concern when I think of where to live. I’m more concerned with our local community and being able to have ties to it than a government, and for that reason will not be moving to Sweden.

  5. Anything is fixable in the same sense that any turing compliant programming language can do what any other TC language can.

    In the programming languages, some of them will require writing a compiler or interpreter for a more powerful language.

    Likewise, I think the only way the U.S. government to be fixed is to utterly collapse and a new government be started. Otherwise it will never be possible to get the corrupt people in power to vote their own power away.

    You’re right that no country is a panacea, but that in no way means that one country is just as good as another. There are clearly countries that are better places to live then others. Personally I don’t have the U.S. high on that list, given the extreme level of violent crime, the really high taxes for what you get for it, etc., etc..

    Personally I would like to see people see the Government for what it is: simply a provider of services. I would like to see countries forced to compete for tax payers, instead of relying on either (a) fearmongering to make people believe they need them (see Bush/Blaire administration) or (b) making silly promises that even if they do keep they will do a poor job at a rediculous cost (see U.S. politics since at least F.D.R.).

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