Monday, September 15, 2008
Yes I know that most people are skeptical on whether politics has ever been about policy, but now more than ever even the ordinary voters are slinging mud.
I was browsing my Facebook hompage today and I noticed a link to an article by Ann Coulter posted. Granted, Coulter is not known for hiding her biases, but biases are one thing, rage is something else entirely. Here is an excerpt:
"If Bush's only concern were about his approval ratings, like a certain impeached president I could name, he would not have fought for the Patriot Act and the war in Iraq. He would not have resisted the howling ninnies demanding that we withdraw from Iraq, year after year. By liberals' own standard, Bush's war on terrorism has been a smashing, unimaginable success."
(The rest of this article can be found at http://anncoulter.com/)
If you examine this closely, you will see the rage that I'm referring too. Coulter's blog is clearly a response to a claim that Bush should be concerned about his approval rating being low and that the Patriot Act and the War in Iraq are factors in his low approval rating. Coulter is off to a policy-driven start...but just when you think she's on her way to discussing policy, she instead moves straight to petty jabs at the Democrats. THIS IS NOT POLITICS! This is name-calling! And just so I don't come off as bias, let me assure you that I have seen these same tactics on the "howling ninny" end as well (Keith Olbermann, you're the figurehead for that one).
The only "journalists" I've observed who have the pull and the desire to drill the candidates for straight answers on policy are Chis Matthews and Bill O'Rielly. But both have some over-bearing traits that hurt their credibility despite their seemingly good intentions. If you haven't watched their shows, watch them. You'll see what I mean.
We have an economy that is falling apart. We have a war that is costing billions of dollars and an enemy of the U.S. who has been hiding in a cave somewhere for the past seven years. Why aren't the journalists asking SPECIFIC questions about that? We should be asking these kinds of questions CONSTANTLY until the president realizes that he IS suppose to answer to the American people (Ann Coulter).
Coulter, I'd like to know by which "liberal standard" you are judging this success. I'd like you list the major issues the American people disagree with Bush on that is causing such a low approval rating and explain why Bush does not need to be concerned with those issues. When you can make a valid argument on those opinions of yours, then I will listen. I'm just a lowly college blogger, but your influence, whether deserved or not is vast. Please use it to inform the people on the numbers, the events, the facts, the quotes on policy and not just some random words from Michael Moore taken out of context. I expect you to let the facts tell the story, not your name-calling.
In high school I got into competitive speech and debate for a while and one of the things that I really enjoyed about competitive debate is that I was forced to argue both sides. So even though I was entitled to my opinion, I was required to be well-informed on all sides of an issue. Furthermore, the more I debated an issue, the more I knew about it. If pundits, serrogates, journalists, and even candidates today were furthering my technical knowledge on a particular topic as we listened to their reporting and arguing, I think the American people would feel a lot more connected to their politics.
I hope you find a link to this note on your Facebook homepage today. I hope you read this all the way through. I hope you read the Ann Coulter article. Don't worry, I don't need you to agree with me. I don't need you to comment (though I do welcome them friendly or not) Just reading
my perspective and being aware of it when you make your next political decision is enough.
Friday, September 5, 2008
John McCain has just been officially nominated by the Republican Party for the 2008 presidential election. Sarah Palin, Governor of Alaska, has been officially nominated as his running mate. Riots are breaking out in the streets. Protesters sneak incognito into the Excel Energy Center and are quickly removed by secret service. Republican deligates are shouting U-S-A over and over again. I'm sitting in my bedroom with my roommates shaking my head at it all.
I believe that for the past eight years, George W. Bush has silently pushed America over the edge on the most seminal element of being American, freedom of choice. More than the money he stole, more than the soldiers and homes that were lost, George Bush desicrated the foundation of our nation. In a society that had been gradually polarizing for almost two and a half centuries George W. Bush became the catalyst for the biggest partisan schism of the U.S. population since the civil war. His all-or-nothing mentality has infiltrated our society. The result of Bush's cummulative failure is an America that has forgotten the meaning of democracy.
It is with a heavy heart that I make this claim, but it is excrutiatingly evident in this year's presidential election. Citizens are enraged. The majority of this election's voters will not be voting based on issues, but on the basis of party loyalty or party distrust.
In his farewell address on September 19, 1796, George Washington warned about the dangers a two-party system. He said:
"The alternate domination of one faction over another, sharpened by the spirit of revenge, natural to party dissension, which in different ages and countries has perpetrated the most horrid enormities, is itself a frightful despotism."
He saw the threat to democracy early on. He anticipated society edging toward a more pragmatic two-party method, if conducted the way it is currently, can provide. No one else anticipated a George W. Bush in 1796, but Washington did. Washington anticipated a president that would throw out the basic principles of a party and he also anticipated party loyalists that would be willing to take the hit in order to save the party. But why? Neither the United States Consitution, the Declaration of Independence nor the Pledge of Allegience mentions anything about party loyalty. Our democracy was not intended to be dependent on the political parties and has no obligation to them. In a democratic state, if a party is inefficient, what reason do the Amerian people have to put up with it? What makes them hesitate?
What makes them hesitate is tradition, duty, money, many things I suppose. But this is not the kind of open-minded ever-changing mentality that we need to make a democracy work. The two-party system was developed as a shortcut. It is a way to help a representative democracy work a little faster. The parties make it easier to raise money and support for a candidate, but over time they can give voters tunnel-vision type worldview. They promote stock issues, uniform ways of thinking, and cause voters to lose sight of their own individual experience as an American citizen. Yes this individual thinking can slow things down, but a large-scale democracy is a complex system that requires complex thinking and complex solutions most of the time. Again I ask, what makes us hesitate to reform the two-party system?
Now I return to Bush. Bush's administration stressed compliance based on fear tactics. You all know this. I'm sure you were as scared as I was. But most importantly he promoted the idea that if you're not with us, you're against us. He started the first wave of McCarthyism in the twenty first century. Compliance or Guantanamo goes against the fundamental principles of democracy. Democracy does not work without opposing views coming together for compromise. Why would a democratic president (this is not a partisan label) want to instill these kinds of opinion limitations? To harbor more power than the founding fathers intended. Now I'm sure you know this too, but what I think goes unnoticed by most is that all these travesties against democracy worked. People made George Bush out to be a bit dull because his ideas were simple, but they were virtually fool-proof.
Bush's zealous, polarizing tactics are now evident in both parties. He was able to solicit the same type of behavior from the opposite party by insulting their intelligence. And instead of disregarding these provocations as catty banter the opponents allow their rage to build. He has done his own party a great diservice by leading them in a trivial direction. Right now the Republicans are so desperate to preserve a positive party image that they will cling to any paradigmatic arguement that will stick. Bush has also done the country a disservice by dumbing down the arguments of both parties.
It is important for me to mention, as my liberal biases tend to shine through at times, that I am not making a direct attack at a particular party. I have spoken with many Republicans who feel that Bush does not properly represent them or the fundamental ideals of the Republican Party. Because of his partisan ties, Bush has unavoidably done more damage on the right side, but the blood on his hands will plague the entire U.S. Government for years to come. He is not the enemy of Democrats or the Republicans, he is an enemy of the greater good.
I'll leave you with more from George Washington. This is what he predicted would happen in 1796 if one political party were to gain too much power:
"But this leads at length to a more formal and permanent despotism. The disorders and miseries which result gradually incline the minds of men to seek security and repose in the absolute power of an individual; and sooner or later the chief of some prevailing faction, more able or more fortunate than his competitors, turns this disposition to the purposes of his own elevation, on the ruins of public liberty. "Please remember your country in this next election before your party.