Thursday, February 22, 2007

Screw the left and the right - let's get REAL.

Coyote Angry: One Nevada Dimwit's Point of View

We (as in the democratic party) just don't get it. We're so wrapped up in party politics and being on the "right side" of every itty-bitty issue that comes up so as to remain in good standing with the cool kids that we completely forget who it was we were supposed to want to represent. Let me remind you. It was regular people. Not party hacks, not wanna-be blogging mega-stars, not just the all-important and ever snarky Las Vegas pundits and definitely not the ultra-rich and uber-cool folks in Pacific Palisades who do not give a rats ass about Nevadans even on a good day.
A big amen chorus to that - and let's send that out to the Republicans, Libertarians and Greens too. SCREW your ideology! Take those knee-jerk special interest "litmus test" issues off the table. All politics are local, so let us not beat folks up for serving their constituents first and their party second. Most importantly, let us get back to basic, bread-and-butter politics. Tell me what's in it for me, that I should vote for you.

I do care about a woman's right to choose. But that concern is overridden by MY right to choose what is important to me.

I don't happen to be a womb-bearing American, so I'm not even sure I have a right to a vote on this one, assuming one ever comes up. But I've been listening to these arguments since Roe v. Wade and they have not changed a whit on either side; which tells me one thing for sure. Whatever is being argued about, it ain't the issues either side is apparently arguing.

Since that's clearly the case, either talk about what you are really trying to achieve, or shut UP already. The way forward here is less doctrine, more positive and practical outcomes to individual Americans, WHATEVER their political beliefs.

You want universal access to family planning - good idea. YOU want (ideally) no abortions, because Abortion is Bad. I have a hard time arguing that an abortion is anything other than a "least worst" outcome, so I'm all for doing everything possible to provide superior choices to abortion and ideally, no need to consider that final choice at all.

And if the Abortion Debate were actually about abortion, instead of an argument as to who gets to commit an act of social engineering upon which class of despised persons, the debate would have ended at that point of commonality.

I think that this issue illustrates the ethic I wish to speak of better than any other. Good governments exist to expand choices, opportunities and liberties. Bad ones exist to restrict options, compel obedience and restrict liberties.

If the only options presented are to change who is oppressed every four to eight years, any actual liberty, any "right to choose" OR "right to life" is conditional and therefore a despicable illusion.

If this current government were a restaurant, it would have only one menu option - the "Family Values Meal," it would cost three hundred bucks, and it would be peanut based, because "average Americans" aren't allergic to peanuts. (The price of your meal would cover the complementary epinephrine injections to those who might request them.)

We have had far too much of our economy, our personal freedoms and our individual dignity sacrificed at the altar of ideology, despite the constant failure of that ideology to produce anything resembling the results it predicts. And we have to be very sure that we do not replace one set of ideologues with another, equally clueless set of beltway commandos.

I'm a Libertarian, but I'm a realist first. We have governments because we cannot do without them, they do things that cannot be done efficiently or fairly by any other means.

This is not to say that our current government IS efficient, fair, or does anything like what it should be doing as well as it should. It isn't. But then, that's what elections are all about.

I believe that if there is to be a government, it ought to do something useful and beneficial for the people it taxes and governs. I hardly think that to be a controversial idea, either. I've spent a lifetime putting up with being treated disrespectfully by governments, kept waiting in line, being judged on my "worthiness" for benefits, access or even consideration. I have learned - as has every other American - that the less you have to interact with government, the better off you will be.

And yet we pay for the privilege of this system of indignity.

Do you think it's reasonable that you or I have a harder time getting meaningful access to my government than, say, Paris Hilton? For that matter, do you think it reasonable that ANY elected official or functionary realistically has to give such a vapid twit priority over actual tax-payers? Does it seem to you like that's a good use of their expensive time on your dime?

But I'm not saying she should not be heard. I'm saying we all deserve the same respectful consideration as taxpayers that she, as a rich twit with the financial capacity to make some officials life hell, gets because they cannot afford to piss on her Pradas.

I passionately believe that the government that governs least governs best, but there are people and groups, cultures and subcultures, marketplaces and crossroads that need to be lightly, fairly and evenhandedly governed.

Let's not confuse that with "administered" or even "policed." Those might be the means, but they aren't the ends, and a lot of folks confuse the two.


There are lots of ways to govern situations that do not depend on saying no and backing that up with force and compulsion. Those should be tools kept in the "sharps" drawer for special occasions.

The best way to govern is to concentrate on outcomes, and then consider the best way - here and now, in this particular community - to get there. That means increasing options, not restricting them. It means putting decision making power in the hands of the consumer of services as much as possible, and if not possible, as close to them, physically and hierarchically as possible.

As I write, I'm listening to re-runs of the Carson City Speachification on CNN and everyone I've heard has had good things to say. Of course, after years of listening to Clinton, Gore, Bush and Kerry, Tickle me Elmo would be a relief. It was nice to see some people throwing down and using words like "wrong" and "mistake" and "morality" and suchlike.

But I'm yet to be convinced that these are more than words.

Everyone there wanted out of Iraq. But few spoke about "Then what?"

But they are all on point about energy independence, universal health care, un-assing from Baghdad, at the very least and fixing education so that it prepares kids to work in the 21st century instead of the 19th.

This seems like a plan and about all I could expect in a few minutes, but I expect specifics in the next couple weeks, although Joe Biden gave us some good stuff on Iraq and education.

I missed Obama's bit, and I'm disappointed at that. I am convinced of two things; I will not be supporting Hillary Clinton or Dennis Kuchinich. One other candidate - and I misremember which - made a very serious point; the next president will have ZERO margin for error and I think both are predisposed to make some serious, ideological mistakes and diplomatic gaffes. I don't think Clinton realizes that this is not just more politics as usual - and more importantly, I think she's needed more in the Senate, and can do more there better and longer than she could as a highly controversial President.

Kucinich - well, he came across as a smug jackass; I found myself offended by his "no strings" stunting, because, well, he DOES have strings. And any politician who forgets he's beholden to them what brought him to the party ain't the sort of person who's got the judgment to be president.

Besides, it would be a waste of a perfectly good rabble-rousing ringtailed sumbitch. I want him in a position where he can kick ass, take names and not worry about being Mr. Popularity. I think he's my choice for Energy Czar, because I think he's probably not as vital to the senate as Sen. Clinton. On the other hand, he's a committee chair in the process of kicking ass and taking names, so maybe I should rethink that thought.

But it's not just the big names that are interesting. It's the small candidates that bring some of the more interesting ideas to the party. For instance, I was a little stunned when hard-line Liberal and dark horse candidate Mike Gravel came out with a proposal to eliminate the IRS and replace the IRS with a sales tax and a "prebate" covering the necessities of life.

It's not a bad idea, actually, and it's hardly original - but it's just so not socialist; it's a minarchist solution - if you grant that there is a need for social spending and non-Straussian views of poverty and welfare.

I happen to feel that's painfully obvious. But solution that just happens, with no ear-flappers or administrivia involved? No review committees? No preferences? No paperwork? Where's the socialism?

He's also an advocate of Direct Democracy. I'm not sure what I think of this yet - I need to read it instead of just skimming but while the man IS a flaming liberal and gloriously unapologetic about it, he's not a moonbat. Again, not presidential timber - too old, and we need two terms for sure. But definitely worth thinking of as cabinet material. And I'm starting to change my mind about this two year-long election cycle, because I'm sure glad I tripped over him.

Anyway, while I cringe at the idea of two years of unabated politics, THIS time, we have a LOT of thinking aloud to do as a nation and a people. I'm starting to thing that in these exceptional circumstances, two years is barely enough, and I suppose I must resign myself to doing my duty as a citizen. Indeed, so long as a single American is at risk due to the irresponsible choice of this as yet unimpeached president, I can do no less.

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ripley said...

Couldn't agree more. It would be nice if we could get back to "what's the issue and how do we solve it?" and drop all the "what's our party's official media position on the issue and have we chosen our talking points yet?", but I fear those days may be gone for good.

I think cable news is partly to blame for making talk more important than analysis and action. Image has trumped intelligence, and we're all the poorer for it.

Bob King said...

A big "amen" to that. These days, the issues seem to be utterly beside the point, waxing and waining in importance only to the degree that they give political traction.


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