Monday, February 04, 2008

Some Politics

I got an email asking for a blog item on politics. "Big politics in the sky", as Terry Riley once put it, as opposed to our narrow musical politics.

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I just voted online in the Democrats Abroad primary. It's good that Dems Abroad have got their act together so well, and good for me personally, given the fact that my county back home has rarely been able to get me a ballot before election day. But it definitely does not have the same feeling as going to your local fire station or school or a neighbor's garage and doing your civic duty with a mark on a piece of paper that is eventually counted, by hand, by some of your fellow or sister citizens.

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May I make one prediction about the election in 2008? Because of the accelerated primary schedule, I predict that the candidate who sews up their party nomination first will be the loser in the general election. Yep, voter fatigue and remorse will only increase with the length of their tenure as the nominee-elect, so the longer that uncertainty reigns in any nomination race, the better. The greatest gift that Obama and Clinton (or Romney and McCain) could give one another is a deadlocked convention.

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One interesting thing about the Democratic debates was that the final three candidates, each accomplished attorneys, displayed three distinct lawyering styles -- Clinton was a model corporate attorney, an insider in command of her facts, Edwards an tort attorney, making a plea that attempted to match emotions to pocket books, and Obama a professor of consitutional law, interested most in articulating broad principles, but at the ready with case examples. I'm surprised not to have read such a characterization anywhere.

As for the Republican debates, the parochiality of their style and the primitive reductionism of the content were astonishing, and, I've frequently found, impossible to explain with any success to non-Americans. The political range of both large US parties is narrow, as both are (clasically) liberal parties with bits of social democracy or social conservatism thrown in, and populism floating between the parties over generations. Both parties are nationalist in character, but take great sport in diminishing the other as insufficiently patriotic on decidedly different grounds. Both parties are actually coalitions of interests, and changes in power from one party to the other are achieved by slicing the coalitions just large enough to acquire majorities in winner-take-all districts and states. It appears that the Democratic currently have the edge, and this is in no part due to the managerial incompetency of the present Republican presidency. As an anarchist by inclination, I don't have long-term faith in either party, as both are statist enterprises, but in the short term, I can recognize that the Democrats are less likely to use the state apparatus for violence, self-enrichment, or the upward redistribution of wealth and more likely to assure equal access to resources, opportunities, and basic services and to act diplomatically in the world. It's a compromise, but all democratic politics is compromise.

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Enough said.

1 comment:

sfmike said...

Actually, that was the ONLY sensible thing I've read about American politics recently, and I share your leaning towards anarchism, particularly after finishing "Against The Day," which I really loved.