Cutting Through The Crap

Friday, October 10, 2008

Balance


In theory, I like the idea of a two-party system. (Whether we need more is a matter on which I have no particular opinion.) Our country has often been ill-served when one party had all the power -- the best example of which, of course, has been the first six years of Bush and his congress. And whereas I think it's long past time to put the Republican party as it's now constituted far on the back burner, I worry a little bit. I know of a time when there were great leaders on both sides, people of integrity, of substance, who had the ability to take a long view of matters; people who'd find areas of compromise for the good of the country. Johnson, Dirksen, Javits, O'Neill, Hatfield, Jackson. The list is longer than I care to research.

Blogging rage to the contrary, I consider myself a moderate Democrat. Socially liberal, I'm more conservative economically. Harry Reid often annoys me; Nancy Pelosi regularly embarrasses me. So there's a part of me in which resides a modicum of concern, were Obama to win and the Democrats increase their numbers by huge margins. I'm not the only one to express such concerns, of course. Moderation and counterbalance are the sinews of our Constitution. Unchecked power is not a good thing.

I wish I thought there were real statesmen, of the old kind, remaining in either party of Congress, especially among the Republicans. From where I sit, there aren't, and it's a shame. Even more so in these amazingly, comprehensively scary times, we need reasonable and thoughful and knowledgeable voices on all sides, not only to keep each other in check but to provide the fulcrum on which to bend ideas into workability. The politics of the last couple of decades has been disastrous. It's produced Gingrich, Armey, Pelosi (not anywhere near as destructive as Newt), Hannity, Limbaugh, and drowned out the real thinkers: Dodd, Biden, Chafee, Snowe, as examples. It's brought us to the brink.

And that's why the attempts by McCain and Palin to win ugly, resorting to and doubling down in the slime-pit of divisiveness, hatred, and fear mongering is so despicable and dangerous. It scorches the earth, it eliminates any chance of comity, on Main Street, as they like to say, and in Congress. It elects assholes. Only for the purpose of self promotion, it's incalculably destructive. It's suicide.

Or is it murder?

I don't count Obama among the bad ones. Yes, he's had to go back on his rejection of attack ads; had he not, he'd have gone under. But he's head and shoulders above it, mild by comparison, and mostly fact-based. And it's clear, when one listens, that he has consistently enunciated the need for finding common solutions to common problems. It's our shared humanity and our intelligence to which he appeals, not our prejudices and stupidity. Inclusive, not divisive, he's exactly who we need in the White House in these times: smart, thoughtful, calm; willing to listen, to engage all sides, to gather the best opinions from the best people; gifted with the ability to synthesize it. It's not about him that I worry.

What we need, and seem most clearly to lack, is people the equal of Obama in Congress, on both sides of the aisle. Especially on both sides. If he's elected, I don't want to see the Democrats go nutz. I want credible people on the other side to put on the brakes a little; not in the screw-you, party-first sort of way we've seen the last many years, but in the wait-a-minute, have-you-considered-this sort of way that used to exist. The let's-work-together-for-the-common-good sort of way that the founding fathers envisioned, and embodied. There are a sorry few to be found, on either side.

The last thing we need is gridlock. The next to last thing we need is another runaway of ideas, unchecked, from either party. Neither of them has all the goods. That the Republicans have become the party of anti-intellectuals, of scorn and denial and divisiveness; that they are turning away all but the most rabid mouth-breathers is a tragedy for our country. Credible, thoughtful opposition serves government well.

If McCain wins, it'll be unmitigated disaster, both because he's such a volatile guy and shallow thinker, and because he'll have left a trail of rubble and resentment that will produce the same tit-for-tat that we've been witnessing ad nauseum. If Obama wins, he'll have the majority on his side, and will be able to get legislation passed. In order to get enough of the electorate on his side, however, in these tough times, he'll have to be able to cool the flames of hatred McPalin have fanned. A tall order, boding ill for us all.

And he may well have to wield his veto pen to keep his party from going crazy.

(Nor would I wish the presidency on either of them, at this point. It seems it'll take longer than four years to right the ship; and in the current climate, it's hardly likely that we'll see a country willing to give him the time or support needed. The times call for the inspiration and trust that only Obama, of the two, has invoked, and has a chance of providing. But it may not be enough. That McPalin have willingly poured gas on the fire, and that so many of their supporters love it like the air they breathe is deeply disgusting, profoundly dispiriting. If it works, again, it says things about us so horrible that I might not be able to face it.)

15 comments:

The Barefoot Bum said...

Sid, the problem is that Obama still doesn't realize he's confronting a "revolutionary power".

The introduction to Paul Krugman's book, The Great Unravelling, mentions Henry Kissinger's 1957 book, A World Restored, which defines a revolutionary power as "a radical group that rejects the legitimacy of the system itself."

Ordinary people who accept the legitmacy of the system don't take the revolutionary power's rejection seriously. "Lulled by a period of stability which had seemed permanent," Kissinger wrote, "they find it nearly impossible to take at face value the assertion of the revolutionary power that it means to smash the existing framework."

Even after 8 years of Reagan, 8 years of scorched-earth opposition to Clinton and 8 years of George W. Bush, the Democratic party still does not believe it is dealing with such a revolutionary power. If they had realized it, they would already have begun not to simply try to rebut the Republicans within the current framework, but destroy them utterly as a threat to the Constitution and the welfare of the people of the United States.

The Barefoot Bum said...

(Note, Kissinger was speaking specifically of Napoleon as a case study, but was also implicitly describing the rise of fascism in the 1930s.

tom said...

Sid; Political moderation I fear has died for "lack of second". Radical right and radical left agendas are motivating voters now more than ever-I do think they have one thing in common-hatred for what the other represents.

I believe the folks of compromise that you listed, (assuming you did not mean Jessie Jackson and Lyndon Johnson),evaluated ideas and ideals in the context of what is good for America-that made them legislators-not what is good for a group of Americans which if sufficiently wowed will continue to support me-that would be a politician.
Like the Titans of medicine, the Titans of politics are gone-no more to be-and we should mourn that loss as it will be America that suffers.
Do you think we will ever return to the days of in order to qualify for a loan you had to have a:
Job
Downpayment
Valid social security number

One last comment-I agree with your comments on Harry and Nancy are

MedZag said...

"That McPalin have willingly poured gas on the fire, and that so many of their supporters love it like the air they breathe is deeply disgusting, profoundly dispiriting. If it works, again, it says things about us so horrible that I might not be able to face it."

Agreed.

athenivanidx said...

Hey there. I found you. Yeah, shit's getting pretty ugly in the world of politics, isn't it?

What a fuckin shame, man

we wrote a rant about it too.

deedee said...

and the world is witness....

Frank Drackman said...

You left out that great Democrat Statesman Senator Byrd, the only Senator to vote against BOTH Black nominees to the Supreme Court, I understand voting against Thomas, that whole Sex-u-al Herassmeant thing, and he does look sort of dull, but what was his problem with Thurgood Marshall, sure "Bad to the Bone" sucks but c-mon....

GDad said...

The other day, I thought to myself that it wouldn't be so bad if Senator McCain won. At least the pain of the next four years would rest squarely on Republican shoulders.

But then I thought about a Democratic Congress, and how the FAUX "News" people would keep repeating the "Demo-Commies are the problem" headline to the cable watchers of America until it was "common knowledge."

Plus, people do skew conservative when they get really scared.

Sid Schwab said...

Gdad: I've already seen some comments on conservative sites saying "when Obama wins the Dems will own the mess." Of course, they'd blame it on the Dems (already are) no matter who was in charge and for how long. Still, I don't envy whomever gets the job. And I do hope Obama, if it's he, will be willing to rein in the Dems when necessary. I think he's smart enough and practical enough and wise enough to do so.

tom said...

smart,practical and wise enough? Please... He is a socialist whose primary mission will continue to be the redistribution of wealth, "because it is unfair that some people are poor". The biggest fear we should have is the future of the Supreme Court.

Sid Schwab said...

The biggest fear we should have is the future of the Supreme Court

Amen to that, brother! If it's McCain, you can kiss your individual liberties goodbye. Corporate all the way, baby.

Obama a socialist? What's McCain? (You can pick what he says on any different day to get an answer you like.)
Redistribution of wealth? You mean like Bush? Talking points much?

tom said...

Sid, me thinks you do protest too much!

Who is behind ACORN? Not John McCain

Who wants to meet with world leaders who want to wipe Israel off of the map? Not John McCain

Who hangs around with admitted perps of crimes agains America? Not John MCCain

Is MCCain the best man for the job-no-neither of the two candidates is the best person for the job. But we have what we have- I will vote for the least worst-again

How is it that a man (Obama) of "such intellect, such wisdom and such practicality" cannot see the flaw of seeking to be the leader of the free world while being pals with people (Wright/Ayres) who have demonstrated such hatred for America and in the case of Ayers, regretting that he did not do more?

Sid Schwab said...

tom, we can argue back and forth. Your way of looking at things is so different from mine that we'll never get anywhere. My "protesting too much" is by the way of fact-based commentary, to which, it appears, you are refractory.

If you want actual facts about ACORN, about the nature of the relationship with Ayers and his status in Chicago when Obama met him (and a list of the other people on the board on which they served, as well as the people who funded it), about who else (hint: he has four stars) agrees with talking with one's enemies (and which country is in the process of establishing a diplomatic outpost in Iran), the info is easily obtainable. I'd provide links, but I don't think you're interested in facts. You might also address McCain and his relationship with Gordon Liddy, who committed crimes against America, and was planning much more, and is far from repentant. McPOW referred to his "adherence to the principles and philosophies that keep our nation great." Good stuff.

Consider this my last response to this particular thread. Have at it.

alexandralynch said...

I know they aren't all gone. The one I know about is Richard Lugar, the senior senator from IN. I am glad that he represents me in the Senate. He is a good man, has cosponsored legislation with Senator Obama, and is known for being a man of integrity. It's just that actually having integrity rather than talking about it doesn't make dramatic TV.

(My house representative is Mike Pence, at least for the moment, but we're working on changing that.)

Sid Schwab said...

alexandra: I agree about Lugar. And there's Hagel. I suppose that, by definition, the ones that rise to party power are the most partisan, so those guys, and others like them, are much less often seen or heard.