Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Long, overwritten post about politics...

I really loathe politics.  I don't understand why someone would want to be President.  Or Governor.  Or Mayor, for that matter.  Too many people that you have to play nice with.  On the other hand, being a king or a dictator is appealing, since you don't have to worry about getting voted in.  You either are born into it, or you kill the person and take over their position.  No campaigning, no ass-kissing.  Pretty much black & white.  No room for shades of gray.

What we really need is a group of space aliens to come attack Earth, like in "Independence Day" or "The Day the Earth Stood Still".  Nothing will bring groups of people together like a good fight against a common enemy (as opposed to each other).  However, I'm not anticipating anything like that. So during this obnoxious time, I've decided to state some opinions and observations.  Comment if you'd like, but don't try to sway me if you disagree.  :-)
Disclaimer:  I plan to vote both sides of the ticket.  I've done my homework.  I even have a third-party candidate I plan to vote for.  Don't attempt to figure out who I'm voting for--you'll probably be wrong!
No one person is going to enact change at any level of government on their own.  Nor can any of the woes or successes be attributed to one person.  I'm tired of the ads that say "I'm going to do this" or "I'm going to repeal that".  No you're not.  You might lead a fight, but don't claim that you're going to actually be the one to "save" the free world.

Negative ads have gotten so out of control that they've become fairly ineffective, I believe.  Sure, the hardcore party members and the ignorant will eat that stuff up, but it means nothing.  I'd much rather see ads that focus on what a candidate believes he can bring to the table.  Don't dwell on the "mistakes" of the opponent's past, but focus on the traits/beliefs that make you a better candidate for the position.  On a side note--the Republican candidate for MT governor has done that.  His ads are so damned positive that you'll actually listen.  His ideas are bunk, and his economic plan is all screwed up, but damn, his ads are a nice twist!

I'm also not a fan of the tactic of tying the name of the presidential/v.p. nominee to opponents in state or local races.  Believe it or not, those presidential candidates have never heard of either of you, nor do they care.

The Republican Party has lost control.  The ultra-conservative Tea Party has run amok and now is the "face" of the party.  No one in the G.O.P. has the balls to rein them in.  I seriously doubt that most Republicans (candidates or voters) share many of their views.  The Democrats have at least splintered into smaller liberal groups that will run their own candidates, making them a stronger party.

People spend too much time looking at charts and graphs and listening to statistics, figures and polls.  All of which are manipulated in such a way that it best suits the situation.  Any one report can be twisted and analyzed to benefit both candidates at the same time.  By the way, anyone can make a chart or graph and plug in their own numbers and post it on the internet.  For God's sake, don't believe anything you see on the internet!!!

Conservative commentators seem to have a more hateful approach towards issues and individuals.  To the point of focusing on nit-picky details that have no real bearing on an argument, and then not letting go of it.  Sort of like the snotty junior high girl in the hallways.  While Rush Limbaugh might be the biggest blowhole on the airwaves, he's far from the most offensive.

The incredibly high dollar amounts being thrown around when discussing the economy are beyond the comprehension of most people, including the top politicians.  Dollar amounts have become meaningless.  It's similar to a poker game.  Most people will have no problem throwing a blue chip into the pot, but if they had to throw the actual cash in, they'd give it some thought.

There is no such thing as the perfect candidate.  No single person will ever satisfy the characteristics of the "perfect" candidate.  And because of that, too many people focus on singular issues when it comes to the candidates.  Some focus on the economy.  Some focus on health care.  Some focus on women's rights.  Some focus on immigration.  Environment.  Military.  Education.  Science.  Arts.  Racial issues.  World domination.  Whatever.  Focusing so narrowly that any other issues become moot.  This is no way to elect your leaders.

After saying that, I do believe that the economy is the biggest issue in this presidential election.  It's a fairly no-win situation for whoever wins.  (At this point, let me say that anyone who thinks that this mess could have been fixed in four years is delusional.) I think that if Obama wins again, he needs to spend more time dealing with an economic/jobs plan than he has.  We could be far worse off than we are, but there's plenty of room for improvement.  If Romney wins, I hope he's not so naive/narcissistic to think that he'll fix things in four years.  And that he gets a mega-dose of social conscience. 

While there's not really a two-party system in our government, you wouldn't be able to tell by the media.  Case in point--why are the presidential debates between just two candidates?  Personally, I would very much like to hear the same questions asked of some of the others.  As long as other parties are treated as unimportant, we'll never have a third-party candidate make a credible run for positions in the higher levels of government.

Anyone who votes a straight party ticket simply because of party affiliation should have their votes voided.  Doesn't mean that it couldn't turn out that way, but base it on research and knowledge.  Stupidity and ignorance should have no place in the polling booth. 

It's sad that non-Americans seem to know more about the political nuances than many "average" Americans.

I find it interesting that there are so many in Congress and state legislatures who will fight tooth and nail for the unborn, yet are just as eager to cut back on funds to support them once they are born.

I also find it interesting that, in a country based on a separation of Church and State, so many people are trying to force their faith into the process.  There's a difference between believing in or voting for "right/wrong" or "good/bad", and claiming to do it as part of "God's will".
Regarding things around the state of Montana:
Montana passed a law over a century ago limiting corporate campaign contributions to an individual.  This was because of the influence the mining companies in the state had over the political process.  In other words, elections were literally purchased by mine owners.  The Citizens United case that the Supreme Court ruled in favor of recently effectively overturned that law, stating that corporations are people, and money is free speech.  As a result, hundreds of thousands of dollars have been spent in negative (and usually incorrect) ads over the past six months.  From both sides.  The sad part--these ads are made without the approval of the candidate they're supporting.  The people of Montana don't need some super-PAC based in Virginia telling us whom to vote for.  Let US pick the person that represents Montanans!  Not who YOU want to see in D.C.!

Interestingly, for a party who believes that there's too much government intrusion, the Republicans seem to push for an awful lot of completely unnecessary laws.

They also despise the federal government imposing its will on the state.  Keep the feds out, dammit.  Except don't cut back on my farm subsidies.  And be sure that the FBI/DEA comes in to take care of them pesky pot growers.

There's an initiative/referendum on the ballot that would keep illegal aliens from receiving any sort of state services.  That's scholarships, driver's licences, food stamps, etc.  I'm not sure I know any illegal Canadians living here, but most of the Canadians I know are pretty decent people.  Not sure who they pissed off to get this on the ballot.  But it amounts to using state employees to do federal record-keeping.  Funny that the party that despises federal intrusion wants to push this thing.

In 2004, there was a citizen's initiative passed substantially to legalize medical marijuana.  The legislature dropped the ball and didn't come up with any decent regulation.  Things got out of control.  So rather than fix it, the legislature tried to overturn the citizen's initiative (a.k.a.--the will of the people).  Fortunately, the governor vetoed that.  So the Republicans passed over-regulation that, in effect (and admitted by their leadership) made it impossible for the law to continue.  It's been sent to the people to either overturn the legislature and go back to the 2004 law, or accept the unworkable regulation.  This is a Tea Party push, along with the backing of some very vocal "family values" groups.

There's a couple of other things on the ballot.  All unnecessary, all hopefully losing.
So there you go.  Vote early and vote often!  I refuse to say anything more.  Other than this...  In my family, we never discuss politics (or they do, and I'm never around, which is entirely possible).  But Mom has already sent in her absentee ballot, so I asked how she voted on the five state initiatives/referendums.  I'm happy to report that she voted exactly the same way I plan to (NO on all five)!  I am my mother's son!


Sailor said...

I find that at this time of election cycle, I've become so disgusted by the babble, that I tune it out completely.

I've found a few places where I can read the actual records of how any (sitting) candidate has voted, which helps; and there are still some (rare) publications which I've found relatively trustworthy that at least the attempt is made to present information about postions, etc *factually*, and in context.

Beyond that? Well, that's why Sirius radio is a godsend, I can listen to great music uninterrupted by shrill haranguing and idiots talking over one another.

Good luck to all Montanians! :)

Anonymous said...

It's probably a good thing (or so I keep telling myself); but the proliferation of TV and radio stations and fact that anyone and everyone (ultra-conservative or ultra-liberal) has a show has allowed more extreme viewpoints to get a much wider voice. When everything was summarized by Walter Cronkite on the Evening News we didn't see lies and distortions becoming their own reality. Nowadays, we live in sycophant's heaven. Politics is ultimately self-correcting, however. It may be an election cycle or two later than it should, but ultimately, we get it right.