Things You Shouldn't Talk About At A Chess Match
I generally don’t talk about politics much here lately. A little, but not a lot. The main reason is that I don’t have much to say that hasn’t already been said, but better, by someone else. For example I could enumerate the list of reasons why I’m for Obama (beyond net neutrality, which I already mentioned) but it would be much better to just point you at Lawrence Lessig‘s video. He explains it better than I could.
But I figure it’s impossible to write much of anything on the net that hasn’t been said before (except for the forthcoming Zuckerbot Invasion, that one was all me) so I will say that seeing the Democrats tear themselves apart in this primary season saddens me. I feel like Hillary is ruining the party (temporarily, of course) out of her desperation, and we can do nothing but sit back and watch.
And normally I wouldn’t even care. I’m not a Democrat. I don’t consider myself liberal, in fact, I’d call myself largely conservative. But I define conservative in the Goldwater sense, and sadly, I find myself without a party. Or at least without one that has any chance of winning the Presidency.
So I’m left to choose between candidates from a party whose policies I think are well-intended but often range from bad (gun control) to disastrous (universal health care) or a party that has become, dare I say, evil over the last 30 years. I’ll take the well-intentioned buffoons any day.
The Republican leaders have sold their souls to the devil by selling their votes to God. They legislate morality, not because they think it the right thing to do (their rapid alignment behind McCain the second Huckabee appeared viable proved that) but because they know that true conservativism is complex and hard for Americans to understand. We like our issues black and white (drugs are bad, and therefore should be illegal; democracy is good, and therefore should be spread) and just don’t have time for complexity.
The Republican candidates are, on the whole, no more religious than the Democrats, but they’re willing to pretend they are for the votes. And that’s about the least appalling thing they’ve done over the last decade. From push polling to fear mongering, they’ve lost any sense of their core values. They’ve gotten damn good at electioneering in the process. Arguably better than any group ever has before. But they’ve forgotten that in the end, the whole point of getting elected is to make our country and the world a better place. They’ve pursued power only for its own sake, and it is threatening to unravel them.
The worst part of it all is that in so doing, they are often forced to simply deny reality. That has never, in the history of humanity, ended well. Reality is cold and complex, and it doesn’t win votes, but it’s implacable and unavoidable. There was a time for skepticism about global warming, for instance, but that was years ago at best. And yet they’re still pandering to oil companies and doing nothing about our energy crisis, except maybe making it worse by promoting ethanol.
Terrorists killed almost 3,000 people on September 11th. That seems like a humongous tragedy, but it’s fewer than die every month in car accidents in our country. In fact, more people probably died due to the increased road traffic that occurred after the airline fallout caused by that day than died in the World Trade Center. Yet nary a Republican speech goes by without mention of September 11th and road safety goes all but ignored.
Psychologists decided over three decades ago that homosexuality was not a mental illness. And despite the lack of proof that gay people choose their orientation (for if homosexuality is genetic, it cannot be any more wrong than being tall or brunette) or any non-religious rationale as to why being gay would be morally offensive even if it were a choice (which should be a requirement, given that we still have separation of church and state in the Constitution, though at this point it’s only a technicality), Republicans deny homosexuals basic human rights like marriage. Even Dick Cheney, who has an openly gay daughter, serves under a president who has done more to dehumanize them than anyone in modern history. Why? For the votes.
The War on Drugs, which the Republicans trod out each time they plant their elephant flag in the Oval Office, has been one of the most disastrous policies our government has ever enacted. It doesn’t appear to have reduced long term drug use, but it has locked up 10% of African American men, created violent gangs, killed untold people on both sides, and ensures that more poor black children than not grow up in single parent households. We’ve locked up a percentage of our population that would make communist Russia grimace, and we wonder why the poor are getting poorer and blame it on welfare.
They’re willing to torture. They’ve thrown Habeas Corpus out the window and detained people for years with no trial. They’ve either lied to or willfully misled the American public into a war that was stupid in foresight (at least given the information the mongers had) and disastrous in hindsight. They’ve attacked anyone with a differing viewpoint ruthlessly, firing prosecutors, outing spies, and lying about it even after being caught red-handed. Their DoJ has opened up investigations into Democratic malfeasance many times more frequently than Republicans. They’ve spied on American citizens without warrants. The list goes on and on.
It’s to the point where even though I like McCain, I’m just not sure I can pull the lever for him because he bears the mark of the beast. He brands himself a maverick, and I guess relative to the rest of his party he is, but when the bigwigs call on him to redefine torture in such a way that they aren’t guilty of it, he, a man who lived through it, is willing to play along. It says something incredibly bad about his character.
So that’s why it saddens me to see the Democratic Party sinking. They refuse to impeach Bush. The Republican Party has lost its way, and it won’t find it again without serious opposition, and the current Democratic Party is so weak (as seen by their refusal to impeach Bush) that they cannot provide it. It’s time for a shakeup, and his name is Obama.
I’m hoping that Hillary does the right thing here. It’s clear at this point that she can do nothing but draw out the conflict and reduce Obama’s chances of winning the White House. Or worse, she can maybe pull off some sort of superdelegate coup and embitter the >50% of Democrats who voted for Obama, and destroy her own chance in the process. Even that looks less and less likely every day though. Most superdelegates are party members who will need votes later, and I think it’s a lot easier for them to explain to a Hillary fan why they voted for Obama (because he won the most delegates and votes popular votes) than to explain to an Obama fan why he voted for Hillary.
Despite the polls (which are virtually useless at this point anyway) I find it very hard to believe that any significant number of people who are for Hillary would vote for McCain if she drops out. That’s just ludicrous. She might have a better image than Obama among the blue collar set, but surely Obama has a better one than McCain.
Obama also gets to differentiate himself on the Iraq War. He can show the videos he posted on his website, before the war even began, condemning it. He can show that he knew the correct course of action not just in hindsight but in foresight as well. Hillary cannot, and McCain can’t even claim to realize it now. His stance on the war is his Achilles’ heel, so if you look at it from an electability standpoint only, it makes sense to go with the candidate who can differentiate himself the most there.
The longer Hillary draws this out, the more Republican she appears in caring more for her own short-term results than the party’s long-term health. I’ll be curious to see if taking this path to the end damages her future credibility. Her supporters claim it’s her right to do so, and it is, but that doesn’t make it the right thing to do.