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Monday, October 30, 2006

Politics as Usual

This isn't a political blog, but with the impending election, I thought I'd say my piece. I read this article yesterday and something in it incensed me. I'll go ahead and quote the line to make your search easier:

And I believe if they continue to emphasize the big issues - keeping taxes low and protecting the American people - we'll win,

The part of it that infuriates me is "we'll win." As much as I hate President Bush, this isn't directed solely at him (although he may be the epitome); it's directed at the entire political establishment, which is summed up in those two little words right there: "we'll win."

The reason that phrase boils my blood is because of the "us" vs. "them" mentality of it all. Politicians view "the other party" as an opponent, the enemy, not as a diverse collective of peers with different ideas. "I could never get anything good from a Democrat/Republican!" If business ran that way, Finance would never involve Information Technology which would never talk to Operations. Meetings would consist of 10 Finance people sitting around, all throwing out pretty much the same ideas and congratulating themselves on being so clever. There is synergy in healthy opposition and summation of ideas. And single-party control of the government is just a bad idea all around. There's too much "Oh, you're a Dem/Rep and so am I...go ahead." As long as you don't get caught being sexually explicit with a 16-year old page and don't get caught with your hand in the till, you'll have support from your partymates. As soon as you get caught, they'll deny your very existence.

To top it off, "We the People" buy into this "left" vs. "right" crap. We all know people that vote party-line regardless of the candidates. I know people from school that would stick to their Republican or Democrat voting even if their party ran Charles Manson or Satan. I know two guys that are hardline Republicans that register Democrat so they can vote for the weakest Democrat in the primaries. That's what I call a perversion of our system; there is no interest in putting the best candidates in office, only an interest in making sure their party wins.

While I'm at it, I'm going to touch on the topic of "Candidate Quality." Plain and simple, it sucks. It reminds me of the South Park Election episode (which unfortunately I can't find a video for...if you find one, please post in comments). Every election, we are faced with the choice of rich politician A or richer politician B. Do we want the one tainted by oil money or the one tainted by pharmaceutical money? Do we want the "tax and spend" politician or the "don't tax, but keep on spending" politician? As an aside, there's only so far this country can continue to go into debt without facing some real issues.

I have to wonder how many voters find the effort so futile that they refuse to waste their time voting. I also wonder how many people that would make good leaders refuse to run because they don't want the fact that they smoked a joint at age 14 or drove drunk once 35 years ago or any number of other irrelevant facts brought to the light of day. The shame is that while there are decent (or at least better) candidates from some of the third-parties (Libertarian, Green, etc), the Democrats and Republicans do everything in their power to keep this a two-party system. If you aren't endorsed by one of the two Parties, you have no chance. I feel like a whore, a sellout, voting for either a Democrat or a Republican because I feel that they embody everything that is wrong with our government. Unfortunately, voting for a third-party seems like a waste of my vote. Bob Hill (of the Louisville Courier-Journal) had an awesome column this past Saturday. Why do we continue to vote for people that act in ways that would get our children's mouths washed out with soap before sending them to their rooms?

Maybe I'm being idealogical, but I like to think that there was a day when politicians represented "us", a day when there weren't career politicians. Politicians weren't always super-rich elites governing "the commoners." Some rich oil baron or real estate tycoon couldn't possibly understand the plight of the poor, unless s/he worked his/her way out of poverty. Today, we have political families: The Bushes, The Clintons, and many others. From what I understand, at one time, Congressmen (and women) held real jobs, which they worked 9 months of the year (I think) and they went to work in Congress for the other 3 months of the year. We don't even have term limits on our Congress-folk! No one can be around the corruption and money of Washington for long without being corrupted themselves. For this reason, along with getting some fresh ideas into Congress, we should have term limits on EVERY political office.

Make sure to get out and exercise your RIGHT to vote.