God dammit, this is exactly the kind of thing I’m talking about. You people put scoundrels in office, seemingly without knowing anything about them, basing your political views on gut feeling and cable TV. You vote for the guy or gal who at best “represents the values important to you”, and in some cases, the one whose name happens to be next to the donkey or elephant, the “D” or the “R”, whichever suits you.
This is idiotic.
How some of these people manage to get on the ticket, let alone get elected is inexplicable. That most of them stay in office long enough to get rich and get out before they’re caught doing some atrocious thing is is inexcusable. The worst ones? Hypocrites. Next in line? Idiots & Bastards. And let’s not forget the Crazies. They deserve some mention.
Have you had it with the abstracts? Good, because there are an awful lot of examples and I usually wouldn’t know where to start. But a few weeks ago I sent an article about a blurb from Michelle Bachman, the always quotable republican representative from Minnesota to a friend of mine living in the same state. I knew she was a republican and I wanted to let her know that there’s a good chance her rep was certifiably insane and that she should be sure and not waste her vote on the next election cycle.
You know, a friendly jab in the rib cage to wake up and do something, in case she wasn’t.
What I got was the political equivalent of a giggle and a snort, and I figured she had heard and that the congresswoman must be some kind of local joke and probably harmless because no one really pays attention to the crazy person.
More recently a picture of Michelle Bachman and Mitt Romney went up on her facebook collection and I realized the problem was bigger than I’d thought. I took some time to ponder the meaning of the image.
By “took some time” I mean that I forgot about it for a bit and it wasn’t until the middle of a flight from New York to Brussels, 3 whiskeys in and no sleep in sight that I had cause to think about it again. I sat there, half-drunk, decidedly not asleep and wondering things in the dark. Somewhere over Reykjavik I was deep into the horrible pondering of this hardcore two-party system; the foundation of the miserable animosity between republicans and democrats. I couldn’t think of more ideal circumstances, I guess. Winston Churchill would’ve been proud.
And nevermind all that. I was bored of reasoning away with those to whom faith is more important than reason, and having been duped into another Saudi Arabian project did me in. Reason and coherence were dribbling away all around me like the chocolate coating from a popsicle: you know, when it starts to crack and the chocolate flakes lean off and you can’t rescue them all? Just like that.
What is the true problem with this two-party system, I wondered. Where does the disconnect come from? Is it a disconnect? Or is it something more sinister? One side has clear political advantage over the other…what causes this idea that things only have two sides and, goddammit, pick one? What is the problem here?
Could this nation be filled with people too simple to grasp more than two options for an issue? Unlikely. We’re too diverse, too filled with different histories, different nurtures to our natures. And so on.
Are we too busy, too caught up in our own day to focus on more than two options when it comes to what has become this vague abstract of government? That’s likely, but it seemed like something is missing.
Here’s the thing: The problem is not “conservatives” – or as some of them are keen to point out – republicans. Labels are so important to people who love to judge labels. Funny thing: in principle I agree with a handful of those “smaller government” concepts that the GOP lot seem to talk so much about and yet do so little to progress. Re: $700 billion bailout package socializing the financial infrastructure of the country for the benefit of a few mega corporations at the direction of an unelected official appointed by the most incompetent man in government since time immemorial, and doing it ahead of health care or social security. Nice. I wonder where my cynicism comes from.
No; the problem is a lack of understanding. It’s the arrogance and the bastard mentality of self-promotion in the face of the adversity of others. The problem is people who:
think they understand the will of the people
think that comments they don’t feel comfortable with have anything at all to do with left or right leaning ideals
think that the information they’re fed from whatever sources they consider are true without much examination
The first mistake is something that I think is passed on to us by the attempted reverse psychology of anyone on TV with an agenda, which is to say, everybody on TV. Everyone loves to use that phrase: “the American people are too smart for blah blah blah,” or “The American people can see past this charade that so-and-so is pulling.” What we tend to forget is that even Gallup, an organization whose sole reason for existing is “to learn the will of the people on the planet” has a significant margin of error and can only give us an educated guess about what’s really going on in the minds of the many many poorly informed citizens of this country, let alone this world. And how convenient that “what the American people understand” is always on par with furthering the well-known agenda of whoever is using that line. It’s a disgusting tactic because the smart money says those who do it know exactly what they’re doing, who they’re manipulating and that what they’re saying is either provably false or factually baseless. Or totally incredible. Don’t presume to understand the will of a people without doing thorough research that you honestly feel is unbiased. Empires have fallen on more information than that.
The second mistake is something that many people do, usually because they’re hearing what they want, not what’s being said. This too, is typical. My personal feelings for the clinical insanity and unfit-for-public-office-statements of Michelle Bachman aside, my criticisms of her here are purely journalistic. The following is a chronicle of the factual points of what she is on the record as saying. Explicitly note that I have sources for these. This is recorded text. Let your judgments be your own, and let mine stand as my own.
Michell Bachman has, even within the House of Representatives, used her religious beliefs to influence legislation. On many occasions saying things like: “Nancy Pelosi is committed to her global warming fanaticism to the point where she has said that she’s just trying to save the planet. … We all know that someone did that over 2,000 years ago, they saved the planet — we didn’t need Nancy Pelosi to do that.” This kind of religious presence within the walls of my government is such a blatant betrayal of public trust and the foundations on which this country was built that I am truly terrified for the future freedom of religious expression in this country every time I hear nonsense like this.
Michelle Bachman has openly said that she’s “a fool for Christ.” [commentary] Hardly appropriate statements for someone serving public office in a country that was founded on the separation of Church and State.
Michelle Bachman has twisted the statistic that more people are forced to work a second job in Minnesota in order to make ends meet than anywhere in the country by saying, “I am so proud to be from the state of Minnesota. We’re the [workingest] state in the country, and the reason why we are, we have more people that are working longer hours, we have people that are working two jobs.” Twist that into ‘proud Americans’ all you want but to do it to create a talking point is a fucked up thing for a mother of two to hear when she has to go to her second job and be away from her kids. Even worse since it wasn’t her talking point, but rather President Bush’s from a while back.
Michelle Bachman on Global Warming, “The big thing we are working on now is the global warming hoax. It’s all voodoo, nonsense, hokum, a hoax.” Please. No sensible person talks like this anymore. That part of the politics is over.
Michelle Bachman held onto Bush’s shoulder for a creepy 30 seconds just after the final state of the union address, only letting go after getting a kiss from the President. Some time later, in Minnesota, when he asked her for a kiss she told him she thought it would be inappropriate. Interesting symptom of bipolar disorder or schizophrenia. I can’t tell which one is worse for Minnesota.
Michelle Bachman has made the claim that drilling in ANWR would not harm any wildlife because there is no wildlife there, just miles and miles of tundra. She said this after touring the region from the small window of a small jet flying at about what looks from her pictures to be 14000 feet. Hardly the right altitude to spot wildlife. Not to mention that her claim completely contradicts reality, which is that the ANWR is home to caribou, musk oxen, snow geese and many, many others. A ridiculous claim understood by anyone who’s ever been to Alaska. In fact, anyone who’s ever been out in the wild knows that there is no such thing as an area with no life on planet Earth. Much less in Alaska. Just because you don’t see it from a passenger jet doesn’t mean it’s not there.
After voting against legislation for clean air and wind energy tax credits, Michelle Bachman went on Laura Ingraham’s (all but explicitly right-wing) radio show to blame house democrats and acting as surprised as a schizophrenic in the morning. This one needs a psychiatrist’s note more than a comment.
Michelle Bachman has, in support of a Mexico/US fence, cited Israel and Palestine, claiming, “Look at Israel and Palestine. Fences work.” Where has she been since 1948 that she thinks anyone who knows a damn would not balk at such a statement?
Michelle Bachman has claimed, repeatedly and without any stated retraction that Cuba and China are drilling off the coast of Florida. Even Dick Cheney has acknowledged that these claims are false though only after the republican senator from Florida, Mel Martinez, debunked them on the floor of the Capitol. Notice the lack of a need for an actual comment on this point.
Michelle Bachman made claims to know of a secret plot by Iran to expel the US from Iraq in order to partition the country. “There is already agreement made,” she said in a February 2007 interview. “They are going to get half of Iraq, and that is going to be a terrorist safe haven zone where they can go ahead and bring about more attacks in the Middle East, and come against the United States.” She later retracted the claim. This is one of those moments when you’re a fool to not ask “why?” on so many different fronts.
How a list such as this one doesn’t automatically disqualify someone from public office seems like a criminal act of negligence on the part of those whose task it is to uphold and defend the constitution.
As for Mitt Romney? Well, I just plain don’t like Mitt Romney.
The third mistake is based on only seeing what you want to see. I suppose we’re all a bit guilty of this to some degree, though some of us are paying a little more attention. With all the biased reporting that is done on cable TV and passes for journalism, Americans have little hope of a functioning fourth branch of government, that which checks the potential for greed and corruption in the other 3: namely, the Press. I had been tempted for so long to think that it’s not most people’s fault for not knowing, or for being steered in shady directions: after all, people have jobs, have lives… they can’t be reading 10 different newspapers every day like I do sometimes when work is slow, going over 4 different versions of articles on the same topic, just to weed out the bullshit and be able to form an opinion of their own that is based on more than the twisted and skewed view that Sean Hannity gave them.
Then I turned 15 and got over it. I realized that no piece of information that is fed to you is done so without an agenda. Nothing. Anyone who tells you differently is selling something. The only option is to THINK CRITICALLY about what you see and hear.
Republican? Watch O’Reilly? Fine. Liberal? Watch Olberman? Fine. But they all have an agenda, and whether it’s unethical or whether it’s innocent, it’s there. You have to always ask things like “why?” and “really?” Otherwise you just end up saying ridiculous and idiotically empty things like, “Fish love oil rigs,” or “Alaska’s Caribou will love oil drilling because of the heat of the pipeline,” or, of course, the now infamous, “I can see Russia from my state, so I’m in touch with foreign policy.”
And since it’s the issue today that is most talked talked about without saying anything (and while I’m on the 4th little mini-bottle of scotch) here’s a topic that is madly incoherent: the next president of this country. Hilary voters that swung over to McCain or are considering it out of either spite, bitterness or Palin, you really are retarded. An explanation for why is superfluous since you’re not thinking clearly anyway, so here’s a reason that makes as much sense as your reason for swinging: baby dragons.
There. That takes care of that demographic.
Now for the conservatives who can’t debate unemotionally or without citing false sources or factually incorrect statements: goodie.
“When an intelligent comment is absent, liberals often times find themselves name calling”
“Liberals are afraid to show themselves to the American public because they are out of touch. This explains liberals difficulty winning the white house”
- proud republican
There is name-calling only where the loathing for the absurd manipulation is due. Frankly, though, my patience runs light and I scoff at the assertion that name-calling is a liberal trait, as if conservatives are above the low game of political mud-slinging. Ah, spare me, kids. What does an empty statement like the one above even mean? How arrogant to assume that one party or the other is more in touch than I or anyone else in this vast nation of dissenting opinion and diversity of definition can be. How arrogant to assume that “you” can know what “we” want. Be careful with that kind of statement. America is a very large dartboard and a pinpoint definition of American Values might poke somebody’s eyes out if it misses the mark.
And you don’t have to guess: I’ll tell you flat out what explains the liberals’ difficulty winning the White House since 1968. It most certainly has NOT been this silly notion that the Democrats are out of touch with “real” America. What most easily explains that the democrats have only had 2 presidents since then is Howard Dean’s ineptitude as a human being coupled with the fact that the democrats do indeed SUCK at politics, not to mention the alleged corruption scandals of campaign financing and political rigging that has been all but unrefuted public knowledge anywhere outside of middle America since ‘68. But leaders would do well to take caution. This notion that “either you’re with us or you’re against us” is a phrase uttered by the prince of many a falling empire.
Who I will vote for is not a secret, though I have no particular love for the man. Especially after he voted with the phone company in the FISA legislation, on which, I might add, John McCain didn’t have the sense of decency to even vote, just like every piece of legislation that’s been discussed since last April. Senators with recent brain surgery have been more responsible that that. But I digress.
If the argument against Barack Obama is an alleged backtrack on a tax increase that the public most likely does not understand and has in all likelihood been misrepresented by BOTH sides, I suggest you try again. If it’s that he has no military experience, take a look at the current commander in chief and let me know how well that’s turned out. Or at your potential one, for that matter. Ask yourself what you know about John McCain’s service record except that he served and was captured? Have you seen his prison cell in the Hanoi Hilton? I tried. Did you know it doesn’t exist anymore, even though he claims it does? How many planes did he crash? How was he captured? And much, much more importantly: does any of this matter? How does serving in the military make you a great leader of the nation?
We’re more than a military. Way more.
Besides, John McCain needs to knock off the experience card. He gave that one up the moment he tapped a VP he didn’t understand and who’s idea of international travel is flying over Canada. It’s embarrassing that we live in a country where a person can be considered elitist if they’ve seen the world but experienced because they theoretically can see Russia from their state. Assuming she’s actually been to Wale, AK for a peek…no one’s reported on that one so far. How republicans have, at least since the election in ‘68, managed to make a presidential run be about comfort rather than issues is the failure of the democrats. Or Nixon’s legacy, whatever you prefer.
Why is America so infatuated with electing someone with whom they identify? Too many people in this country have an education beyond rescue and frankly, I WANT someone leading the nation who is smarter than I am. Why should the class clown take the wheel?
Besides, that’s small potatoes compared to someone who doesn’t know who the prime minister of Spain is, can’t get his facts straight about the fundamental differences in Sunni and Shiite Islam that are at the root of so many problems in that region, has lied about his prison cell in Vietnam for political gain, supports keeping too many of my friends in Iraq indefinitely with no concrete plan for success, ignores the fact that though Iraqis can finally watch their national symphony orchestra show inside the IZ, American soldiers bypass security and get choice seats while the citizens of the country longingly wait in long queues in their dark ties and evening head-scarves to be sniffed by bomb-detecting dogs; practical, but inarguably absurd. It’s insignificant when the same man has backtracked more than Kerry, sometimes even on his own legislation when it suited him, won’t admit to mistakes any more than Barack won’t admit that the “surge worked” (I’ve yet to hear from anybody what the success criteria is for that, by the way, and no one is winning that debate until that’s good and defined, period), picked a running candidate based on what she would contribute to his campaign instead of his presidency, and wants to convince me that it wasn’t the oil companies that wanted him to tell people how the fish love the oil rigs.
So here I go: Really?
Listen, we all support one thing or another for a whole slew of different reasons. It’s not surprising that young people and progressives identify with Barack Obama and Vietnam veterans identify with John McCain… they have things in common. But electing a president is not about identifying with the would-be leader. It’s not about electing who most resembles you, who has values most similar to your own. What continually astounds me is not that different people identify more with one or the other, but rather that the conversation is always dominated by that identification, and that that is what dominates the media and consequently, the vote.
Elections are not about personal feelings; they’re about putting someone in office who will be responsible for better economic results, more prosperity for the country, fewer headaches like wars and recessions, more allies in the world and so forth. Elections are not for people to pass emotional tests and demonstrate that their home is most like yours. It’s about changing the future of the country. John McCain fails to convince me that he can do this on so many levels that were I more naive, it would surprise me he was even running.
Here’s the thing: we can have these debates on end, ad infinitum. Those who disagree within the bounds of their own logic can do so to their heart’s content. They won’t convince me and I won’t convince them: we are as different as I am to my Saudi Arabian colleagues. But the empty 2-week old talking points are… well, empty. The soft-but-blind contempt for “liberals” are as meaningless and superficial as the misguided notion that joining the military would help fix our public schools. Or Medicare. And I’m bored of hearing the same thing on CNN, MSNBC, FOX, and then the Daily Show and then 2 weeks later have people argue with me, reminding me that they too, “watch the news” and “are politically educated.”
Please. It’s not what you hear that defines your education. It’s what you understand. I’m still trying to understand what the hell we all think we’re DOING in this country, but it’s entirely unrefreshing and unsurprising to hear that some people think they do understand.
And THAT, I think, is the real problem.