I love me some ‘Murica


I am deeply in love with this schizophrenic country I call home.

Land of the free.  Home of the firm and fast opinions on subjects one knows absolutely nothing about.

Of thee I sing with a courage of convictions completely unencumbered by contemplative thought.

Our rights are life, liberty, and the pursuit of a government of, by, and for all the right people.

I may disagree with what you say, but I will defend to the death my right to vote for the other side.

Election day’s a-comin’.

Let freedom ring.

Deciding on The Decider

High office teaches decision making, not substance. It consumes intellectual capital; it does not create it. Most high officials leave office with the perceptions and insights with which they entered; they learn how to make decisions but not what decisions to make.  — Henry A. Kissinger

I have a love/hate relationship with politics.  It’s like a drug I can successfully abstain from for awhile, and then suddenly it’s as if I’ve gone to a party where everyone is passing around the pipe.  I hesitate (almost imperceptibly) and then say, “What the hell.”

And now the silly season is looming over us yet again.  I opened my Comcast home page to be met with the news that Sarah Palin thinks she could beat President Obama.
In checkers, maybe.  She promises to make an announcement in August or September.  I can hardly wait.  (Please, do it, Sarah.)

See?  I’m pulled in yet again.  If personal history is the least bit accurate, I will slide down the long and slippery slope of political interest until splashing into the pool of election frenzy about 16 months from now.

I’ll let you in on a little secret.  There was one thing I actually admired about George W. Bush (and, yes, a small puff of smoke arose from my keyboard as I wrote that sentence).  I actually appreciated the fact that he was “the decider.”

A friend of mine always says, “Let’s do something, even if it’s wrong.”  I thought of that saying often during the Bush II Era.  I rarely liked his decisions, but I had to give him credit for simply making them.  Washington has such an incredible tendency to become a stagnant cesspool of indecision that it isn’t really that difficult for a confident “decider” to rise above the crowd.

Because that’s really what we are voting for on election day — a decision maker.  Our entire democratic republic is based on that concept.  With rare exceptions in the form of ballot initiatives, we rarely vote for ideas; we vote for people.  We don’t make decisions; we vote for decision makers.  And then we hold our breath for the next four years as we watch them do exactly what we gave them the power to do.

President Obama’s ability to hold the Republican hopefuls at bay in 2012 may well depend solely on his ability to appear decisive.  Americans have their pet issues and political perspectives, but mostly they just want to know someone is in charge.  Someone who is not afraid to make a decision.

I contend that the President’s 2012 hopes will rise and fall not so much with the decisions he makes, but with his ability to appear decisive as he makes them.  That theory, of course, is dependent upon the assumption that the decisions won’t be too outlandish.  I suppose if he decided to invade France, I would have to return my Amateur Political Scientist merit badge.

A Democrat’s Plea to The Republican Party

Let’s get a few facts out of the way first.  I’m a Democrat.  In fact, I’m a progressive Democrat.  Actually, if I ever thought the Green Party had a chance in hell, I’d vote left of Democrat.  But that doesn’t mean I want the entire country to think just like me.  I’m a Democrat who recognizes that we need Republicans (and yes, Republicans, you need Democrats too).  A diverse political discourse is vital to the our national health.  The ultimate example of checks and balances is not found in the constitutional framework for our government, but rather in a balanced two-party system.

So, with the back story out of the way, I’d like to make a personal plea to all Republicans.  Take your party back.

I would like to continue to have intelligent discussions with Republicans about how trickle-down economics has never worked, how rampant deregulation is akin to giving a five-year-old boy an all-you-can-eat day at the candy store, and how free trade will ultimately decimate the middle class until we can bring all those countries we trade with up to our standard of living.  But, those conversations are increasingly difficult to have because of a particular phenomenon in your party which has been made glaringly manifest with this election.

Somewhere along the journey of the past 20-30 years, you sold your soul to the religious right.  The end result is that the things you now have to do to play to your base debase your party.  The extreme right faction of the Republican Party became the party’s core over the past couple of decades and now you are stuck with pandering to a few staunch social positions.  Quite bluntly, if overnight some magical shift happened and the Democrats became the pro-life, pro-gun, anti-gay marriage party, you would lose your “base” to Barack Obama on November 4th in droves.  The true essence of the Republican party has been lost in the strident rhetoric of some very angry people.

When your best hope for the presidency runs a campaign that is reduced to name calling and race baiting, you must admit that the party is in trouble.  (By the way, Senator McCain, the correct response to someone calling Barack Obama an “Arab” is not, “No, he’s a decent family man.”  The correct response is “There are many decent hard-working Arab-Americans.  However, Barack Obama is not of Arab descent.”)  My personal advice to the Republican Party, should they actually request it, would be to cut your losses and stop putting any more money into the McCain Drain that is this election and focus on restoring your party’s former greatness.

Pandering to the religious right has done more than just shift the focus from what you’re good at to what will get you votes.  It has watered down the very focus of your political philosophy.  Now the party that shouts for smaller government and deregulation is socially commited to putting government smack dab into the middle of a woman’s reproductive choices and regulating the relationships of millions of gay Americans.  If you truly want smaller government, then you can start by eliminating the segments of Capitol Hill that hold meetings in my uterus and my bedroom.

Ah, but I got sidetracked by issues, didn’t I?  And this really isn’t about issues at all.  It’s about who owns your party.  Bay Buchanan insisted on CNN that those radicals who say outlandish things at John McCain’s now wisely-defunct town meeting style rallies represent maybe only 1% of Republicans.  If that’s true, then you guys have some really terrible luck.  What are the odds that 1% of your base would so often have a microphone at a presidential rally?

We’ll debate gay marriage and abortion and taxes and trade policies another time.  Forgive my tangent.  Until then, I humbly ask all thoughtful, balanced, intellectually-curious Republicans out there to please take your party back.   I may disagree with you on economics, but I recognize that you’ve got some pretty impressive economic minds among your ranks, and our country needs them.  I may disagree with you on the way to handle Iraq and Afghanistan, but you’ve got some brilliant foreign affairs brains on your team, and our country needs them.  I may disagree with your party’s official stance on abortion and gay marriage, but I know that you’ve got plenty of moderates in your number who would be willing to work with Democratic moderates to find equitable solutions that we can live with, and our country needs that.

Dear, wonderful Republicans, you won’t get my vote this November 4th, but you will have my support and applause should you return to your core values, restructure your fractured base, and take your party back.