Monday, November 03, 2008
It's not whether you're cynical...
Been awful quiet around here lately. Four years ago, it was kinda more lively.
Before I start: yes, I'm hitting the polls in the morning. The original plan was to vote Libertarian, unless it was close between McCain and Obama in which case I'd go McCain. As of this writing, it doesn't look close.
There are two flaws with this strategy. First, what do I mean by close? A point or two from the margin of error? I don't know, and it's my plan. No matter, though. I'm not so sure I trust the polls anyway. That's the second flaw.
The vote's going to be a game day decision.
Of course the rest of the quote (from the title) is 'it's whether you're cynical enough.' And I'm not sure that I am. I'm a lot more cynical than I was back then, though. This campaign has been like a car accident: I don't want to see, but I can't not look.
I think the tone of this campaign has been beyond disgraceful. Truth be told, it's probably no different from past campaigns, but I'm really noticing this time. "He hasn't released his medical records." "He hasn't released his birth certificate." "She got her ex-brother-in-law fired." "He stuck his foot in his mouth." "He has a poor relative in Africa." "He doesn't know how many houses his wife owns."
Just who are these arguments supposed to convince? Arguing that Obama isn't really a US citizen, criticizing McCain because he has difficulty typing, these are designed to appeal to the ignorant, the careless, the busy who just don't pay attention to politics. They're not meant to inform or convince, they're designed to demean and frighten. It's lowest-common-denominator politics. That's what we're reduced to.
I think that domestically, Obama wants to increase the power and influence of the federal government over the citizenry; and abroad, among nations, wants to limit it. There is a sense in which individual countries could be thought of as citizen-members of a global 'nation,' so in that way Obama is at least consistent: as government, more powerful; as member, less so. You'll have to decide for yourself whether his reasoning actually follows this path.
I think the Republican party lost a lot in the 2006 elections because of spending and corruption. Of course the Democrats are just as corrupt and want to spend even more, but that was supposed to be the difference between the parties, ultimately: do you want the government doing it, or do you want to do it yourself? The Republicans were supposed to be the party that empowered people to do for themselves. They changed, and I have two quotes to explain why.
H. L. Mencken: "The main trouble with democracy is that the people eventually realize that they can vote themselves the treasury; then you have anarchy."
Chancellor Palpatine: "He became so powerful... the only thing he was afraid of was losing his power, which eventually, of course, he did."
[You knew I was getting a Star Wars reference in here.]
Republicans at least still pay lip service to the principles of individual liberty and individual responsibility. Some, anyway. I'm sure some Democrats do too but the sense I get from that side of the aisle, and especially from their more fervent supporters, is that strength is intrinsically a bad thing. (Refer back to my Obama comment.) I don't think the Republicans have caved to that. I do think they've realized that they can get votes by catering to specific wants, and that means spending money. They've learned they can use the treasury to hold onto power, to gain support by offering government help, and thus by encouraging dependence on that help.
Unless the other side does it better, that is. Or has better rhetoric regarding your page-baiting shenanigans, or improper connections, or inability to control a hurricane.
Yeah, this is a semi-coherent disjointed rant. I'm posting it anyway, and I'm not changing it. Call me Darth Dactyl, I've gone over to the cynical side. Once this election is over, I'm re-reading Plato's Republic. Then Atlas Shrugged. Then the Republic again. Then I'll probably hit Al's place for some reading ideas. See you there.
I kind of like this rant, Darth Dactyl. It's nice that you acknowledge both sides, while maintaining your position. I've been reading Atlas Shrugged, btw. It's long! I feel complete attention deficit these days. Too many 3 minute video clips online, I suppose. Anyhow, see you this holiday?
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