1 year ago
by The Political Breakdown
Throughout the election the Republican party baffled me. Their stances seemed anachronistic, and at times offensive and hateful. The conservative rhetoric continued this trend. Small town America and small businesses were lauded. Any concessions for illegal immigration were denounced, marriage would remain as it always had been. There were times when it seemed downright surreal. I convinced myself that I, having lived in liberal New York City and now Los Angeles county, I was simply surrounded by a liberal bubble and that the Republicans knew what they were doing after all. It seems I was proven incorrect.
The Republican Party lost the election last night because they were appealing to a country that no longer existed. At the very least, they were pandering to a country that existed in numbers too small to garner a successful presidential election. It seemed like they thought if you spoke about traditional America, traditional values, and traditional views enough, if you flooded the television and the airwaves with advertisements lauding it, that you could bring that traditional country back into existence. You cannot. The country has changed. Latinos are now the biggest minority in the country. The Asian-American birthrate just exceeded that of the Latinos. Gay rights is going to continue to progress - get over it. And what could possibly make you think we’re going to regress to a point where a woman can be told what to do with her own body?
I am thrilled that President Obama won last night’s election, for reasons far more important than because his stances line up with my personal sociopolitical beliefs more closely than those of his opponent. I am happy because the Republicans will be forced to accept the fact that they lost touch with the keystone of the democratic system: compromise. The founding fathers of the United States specifically, intentionally designed our system of government to force moderation of viewpoints and keep anything too radical away from power. In order to receive power, one had to moderate their views and compromise with opposition to make their base powerful enough to win an election. Somewhere in the din of Karl Rove, Donald Trump, and Bill Maher, the Republicans forgot this. They thought if you shouted loud enough, you can win. Thank God this isn’t how our country works.
A Republican president will be elected again; it is only a matter of time. But when that time comes, I optimistically believe the GOP will have learned their lesson and have changed. They will have moderated their economic stance, and will have both accepted and appealed to new, powerful minorities within our country, whether they be of race or orientation. When that day comes, I probably won’t much mind a Republican president at that point, because even though I probably won’t agree with everything they have to say, they’ll be a tolerable leader of our country.
So Governor Romney lost, because his party and he forgot how a democracy works. In this end, this loss, and the lessons they will hopefully take away from it, might ensure our country’s successful future.
1 year ago
Another reblog request … sorry for the repeats …
Recently, I was asked:
In a recent post, you talked about campaigns selling us “movie presidents” because that is what we demand. What do you think it will take for Americans to stop being content with this lie and demand a real debate?
My response follows:
Most Americans don’t give a flip about politics. They, and for that matter many of those who have a passing attention to politics as well, manifest two attitudes that undermine any prospect for a real debate about politics: faith that “they” will take care of things; and faith that “common sense” is the answer to most social and political problems. Ipso facto, just get “common sense” people in office, and all will be well.
This is nothing new. The default condition of most Americans for most of American history has been limited or no information about politics, international relations, economics, or any of the other myriad issues that go on in American life. Nor, frankly, is it particularly in their interest to develop such attitudes and knowledge: they have kids to feed and jobs (hopefully) to do … they aren’t to be expected to be political experts.
What’s changed in the last 50 years is the reemergence of anti-intellectual and nativist elites, largely but by no means wholly found in the Republican Party. These elites fan the flames of anti-science, anti-immigrant and other sentiments and insist on fealty to silly principles (no tax increases ever, no mater what!; just toss ‘em out and build a wall!; science is trumped by snow!) that then become dogma for a generation or more.
I don’t mean, by the way, to suggest prior generations of elites were great or good or wonderful. They promoted slavery and anti-semitism and Jim Crow and gender and other forms of discrimination all in their time. I just mean to say that so long as elites are being stupid and foolish, it is too much to expect ordinary people living their complex and involved lives to be political scholars.
We are living through remarkably stupid times, where complexity and nuance is mocked, humiliated and shouted down in a cacophony of political attacks, blog comments, media commentary and snarky internet memes. And if it is the case that only the absurd can rule the insane, perhaps only madmen can rule the stupid.
And we sure have a lot of madmen out there, don’t we?
2 years ago
Between the years 2000-2010 (from reputable sources):
47,000 number of reported UFO sightings.
441 number of Americans killed by lightning
13 number of documented in-person voter impersonations.
The recent spate of Republican voter suppression laws put on the books across the country is the most serious attempt to restrict American democracy since southern Democrats used poll taxes and literacy tests. What the GOP is doing today is just the updated version of an old tale.
A GOP-appointed federal judge in DC recently struck down Alabama’s voter restriction law. Other judges will hear other cases as (hopefully) the Obama Justice Department brings lawsuits, though Republicans and their media allies will cry “politics!” at every one.
Judges, the majority of whom have been appointed by Republican presidents over the years, will have to step up and defend a democracy’s most sacred birthright. Some will and some will not; the hope is the system as a whole will do the right thing. While jingoists regularly praise the longevity and stability of our democracy, the truth it… it is fragile. Always has been and always will be.
2 years ago
Will Wilkinson advises the Occupy Wall Street movement to actually think about participating in the democracy as it exists instead of agitating for something else:
There is something profoundly satisfying about believing that one’s own team alone has seen through the fog of disinformation and propaganda to the real truth about the treacherous interests that stand between our condition and the reign of justice. And there is something terrifically exciting about the sense, often engendered by visible protest movements, that one’s own team is growing, that its narrative is catching on. Conversely, there is something profoundly dissatisfying, and a little bit demoralising, in acknowledging that most people will never accept many of ones’ most ardently-held convictions, and that, therefore, none of us will ever get to live in a society that closely matches, or even roughly approximates, our beloved ideals. But it’s true all the same. And it’s true all the same that our actual democracy, for all its problems, does about as well as democracy can be realistically expected to do, given the size and diversity of this country. Frankly, we’re pretty lucky our democracy works as well as it does. There’s a great deal we can do to make it alittle better, but there’s very little we can do to make it a lot better, because we’ll almost never agree enough about the really big stuff.
I think a lot of the protesters — or, at least, the organizers — will find this sort of advice profoundly unsatisfying (and paternalistic and self-serving and all sorts of other things), precisely because — as Wilkinson also notes — they believe “our system is so badly broken that honest democratic politics is no longer possible.” And if I’m right that a lot of them hold that position, then I’m back to wondering about the endgame of these protests. Do they want more (or better) democracy or do they actually want something else entirely?
HT: Allen Stairs.
2 years ago
2 years ago
Ninety seconds. That’s how much of the first hour of tonight’s GOP debate was given to Ron Paul. 90 measly seconds out of 3,600 seconds.
Ron Paul’s 2012 presidential campaign newsletter.
My recommendation: Ron Paul’s campaign should sponsor its own series of debates! Isn’t that the solution that best makes use of the free market? If there’s a whole bunch of competition and very little regulation, wouldn’t we get the best product?
Each candidate should sponsor a separate set of debates to ensure that (s)he is happy with the amount of time devoted to his/her ideas. But if your debate doesn’t draw any ratings and if your poll numbers don’t improve after you express your ideas to your heart’s content, then you have to agree that your ideas just aren’t favored in this market and you have to pack it in. That would sure beat the current system, where the debates are essentially hand-outs to some incredibly weak candidates who have no chance of winning the GOP primary because their ideas consistently fail to meet even the lowest threshold for success that a market would allow.
Why wait to be “given” time, Ron Paul? Why not make time for your ideas yourself? Pull yourself up by your bootstraps!
Problem solved, libertarian-style!
2 years ago
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2 years ago
A Republic, if you can keep it.
Benjamin Franklin, to a questioner after being asked what kind of government had been created in Independence Hall in the summer of 1787.
Pretty much everything I think about politics derives from that last clause: “if you can keep it.” Politicians can be demagogic, thoughtless and stupid. Media can be money-chasing sensationalists only truly worried about the second-to-second ratings their stories get online. Corporations can be self-interested and fantasize that the aggregation of endless self-interested pursuits will magically emerge as the community’s interest.
But citizens have to be smart. Citizens have to recognize what forces are trying to strip their power away for selfish ends. Citizens have to care.
There is no “them” who has to protect democracy for the citizenry. We have to do it for ourselves.