Archive for the ‘Politics’ category

Bern’in for Hillary

February 5th, 2016

DemDebateLast night’s Democratic candidate debate was far and away the most debate-y event held to date on either side. It was substantive and informative while remaining cordial and not devolving into an ad-hominem slug-fest. Moreover, it drew a delightfully bright line between Clinton and Sanders that even the candidates don’t disagree with.

Bernie Sanders is the ideological heir to Obama’s 2008 candidacy. He’s inspirational. He’s all about hope and dreams of a better tomorrow. His vision is transformational.

Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton is practical, prepared, and ready to get down to business. She’s all about the art of the possible. She is the heir to Obama’s Presidency.

Obama campaigned as a visionary. But when faced with the realities of Washington and the lack of a similarly visioned Congress, he pivoted to governing as a moderate. He focused on figuring out what bits he could get done. His vision remained intact, but his aspirations were tempered with reality. Most importantly, rather than wallowing in the disillusion of his inability to transform Washington, he opted for tactical, directional, and practicable progress.

While I like much of Sanders’ vision, his ability to execute on it is, by his own admission, predicated on the political revolution he’s trying to foment. He may well rally a swell of people behind him, but there is no complementary group of Democratic Socialist Senate and House candidates running who could sweep in with him to affect the transformation he envisions. He’s a one man show. And Sanders’ career indicates he’s a determined ideologue. He’s unlikely to compromise his dream and pivot to practical matters. I fear that at best, he spends four years inspiring future Congressional candidates who would be elected in 2018 or 2020. But by then, the Bern Legacy will have worn off. His accomplishments will be non-existent. His movement will be considered a failure. And we’ll move on to something else. After all, Americans are not known for their patience and willingness to endure a long slow slog toward an aspirational goal. “Squirrel.”

OTOH, Hillary. She’s competent, capable, and better vetted than possibly any other candidate in history. But she’s not exciting. She’s frankly not even too likable. Sure, she’ll keep the lights on. She’ll get done what needs doing. Yet she’s unlikely to take us anywhere too far off our current trajectory. She’s like our safety candidate.

And then there’s the practical matter of the general election. Sanders is likely to draw more people to the polls, which helps the Democrats up and down the ticket. Will people come out to vote for Clinton? Probably not. About the only thing she truly inspires is enmity from the right.

In many ways, Hillary and Bernie are like Obama was a victim of some Star Trek transporter malfunction that split Barack into Candidate Obama and President Obama. And in many ways, what I pine for is Scotty to make an 11th hour appearance and put Clinton and Sanders back together again. That’s a candidate I could get behind.

Donald Trump Is What’s Wrong With America

July 13th, 2015

trumpIn fairness, headlines like the one above are also what’s wrong with America. It would be far more accurate to say that Trump’s popularity as a Presidential candidate is indicative of a larger scale cultural failing in the US. But that’s not a pithy click-baitable headline. It needs to be simplified.

Trump’s core resonance with people is that he has a simple solution for everything and projects the confidence that he can get it done. China? Beat ’em. ISIS? Crush ’em. Immigration? Build a wall. Jobs? Take ’em back from overseas. Infrastructure? Build and rebuild.

It couldn’t be more simple, and we Americans do love it simple, which is really the core point. As a society, we don’t acknowledge that the world is a terribly complicated place, and that big hairy problems don’t usually have neat and tidy solutions. The entertainment industry has taught us that all manner of crime, political crisis, or family shenanigans can be resolved in 47 minutes. Large intractable problems like epic natural disasters and alien invasions may take upwards of 2 hours to get sorted. But that’s the top end. If your predicament requires more time that that, then you’re just milking the press opportunity.

Trump is the political equivalent of your 5-year old’s exasperated reaction to why you’re not buying them an iPad.  “What do you mean we can’t afford it? Just stop at the ATM and get more money from the machine!” It’s all pretty simple when you don’t comprehend the details. Only in this scenario, voters are Trump’s Kindergarten classmates who want to make him king of the universe because he’s promising that everybody gets a new tablet… blissfully unaware that ATMs don’t print currency or why it would be a bad idea if they did.

Left vs. Right – A Clash of Worldviews

December 18th, 2014

left-vs-right-politicsThis editorial piece by author William Voegeli in The Daily Signal is somewhat ineptly titled, “MSNBC Shrill Is No Accident. It’s How Liberals Really Think.” It’s intended as a take-down of liberals and liberalism as a danger to America. In that regard, it’s kind of standard political blather.

However, in the last two paragraphs (feel free to skip straight there), Voegeli offers up some interesting contrasting perspectives on liberals vs. conservatives that at least to my mind don’t shine as favorably on conservatives as I think he intended. To wit:

Liberalism exists to solve problems, and liberals regard every source of dissatisfaction or discord as a problem, not an aspect of the human condition that we must always contend with but can never sanely hope to eradicate.

It seems what he’s saying here is that conservatives have bonded with the reality that human misery, misfortune, and suffering are just things we have to live with, and since we can never hope to eliminate them, it’s insane to try.  He goes on to say:

…the conservative belief that constraining human wickedness through stern disincentives is plausible, but solving it therapeutically through social work is deluded […] Liberal disdain for the wary view of human nature, which is conservatism’s foundation, turns out to be of one piece with the “idealism” and “compassion” that culminates in governmental malpractice […]

This would seem to say that conservatism is all about sticks, while liberalism is all about carrots.

This reads to me like an assertion that conservative ideology stems from a recognition that, at their core, people are mean-spirited self-indulgent asshats. Conservatism is all about tamping down, containing, and punishing those inherent aspects of this “wary” human nature. Meanwhile, liberals are just nice people who want the world to be a nicer place, and liberalism proceeds from an assumption that people are worth investing in.

Given the intent of the article, it’s understandable that Voegeli would create a caricature of the left as close-minded, silly, and naive. But for the same reason, we assume he’s trying to paint the right in the best possible light, which is more than a little disconcerting. He’s painted the right as believing that giving hungry people food is misguided and destructive. The proper course is a zero-tolerance policy on bread theft so the miscreants are motivated to teach themselves to read and then go get a job before they starve to death.

It’s hard to read this article and imagine coming away as proud to be a conservative. But apparently that’s not a problem everyone in my social media circle is experiencing.

You are not safe…

September 22nd, 2014

FearPoem

9/11 – A day to remember…

September 11th, 2014

911