Thursday, January 29, 2004

Growing up outside of Boston, the democrats I knew were from an old mold: Pro-death penalty, pro life, pro union, Irish, French Canadian, Catholic, Greek. Civil rights was a very distant movement for a town of one hundred thousand that segregated beyond race into fourteen catholic parishes and one greek orthodox. These democrats cared about the day to day struggle to make a living, not the high minded movements that defined the Democratic party on a national level. The national republican party stance increasingly mirrored the very conservative social stance of most of these third and fourth generation democrats. Locally, the party mechanics of the long entrenched democratic party keeps the majority of city councilors, mayors, state representatives, and state senators democrats. However, republicans have started a bit of a dynasty in the executive branch, based largely on their stance toward social issues. Where else besides Massachusetts, could then president of the State Senate, democratic demi-god Billy Bulger, make a stand against school busing and integration? As the republicans are keen on pointing out, what exactly do democrats stand for? gay marriage? While I think that same-sex couples (that is two human beings, for all you conservative readers hoping to make the slippery slope argument) should be permitted to legally bind, it is not exactly the most morally or ethically energizing of issues. It seems more like a final step in a long progression. To the republican conservatives, however, it is the perfect bogey man. Marriage is one of the many points of state and church that seem impossible for many to disentangle. "It's a sacrement" I have heard said by the devout catholics I know. (Aside: With all due respect, that is like saying a birth certificate equates to a christening.) The point is, the issue has become a defining point of the democratic party stance because the republicans have used it as the slogan issue for how far out in left field the democrats are playing. So, I admire the article below. But I disagree. We are being forced to polarize because of the rise of a conservative movement, which is fracturing, by the way, between neo-cons and traditional conservatives (redundant I know I know). The majority of the country is in the middle on social issues like criminal justice, abortion, and civil rights. However, when it comes to education and class mobility, I don't think I have ever met a single person who thinks the current disparity and rigidity of american economic classes is ethical. So why can't we take it to the republicans on a issue everyone really cares about? Op-Ed Contributor: The Dead Center

Tuesday, January 27, 2004

The article below articulates, not without a certain penash, the rise of American imperialism -- both under Clinton through the auspices of international coalitions and organizations, and under Bush through sheer might and force of will. What strikes me about american imperialism are nuances like theworldvotes.org. Citizens of other nations seem to be asserting pretty clearly that our government, our politics matter deeply to them. That realization is, for many I expect, deeply frustrating since they have no input whatsoever. As I understand it, the philosophical dispute underlying the American Revolution was Parliament's authority to dictate law to all of the British Empire, while only drawing its members from the English districts. Until 9-11 transformed American foreign policy, we were using the local federal governments to channel US will to those nations' policies (or so I interpret the article below). Our pre-emptive actions in Iraq shook that balance. Obviously, the old approach of using the local government as a more direct means of representation and participation for the local residents could never work with a dictatorship, but in the process we disengaged from the UN and our coalition building and have threatened the stability of international relations. The New Yorker: The Critics: A Critic At Large

Sunday, January 25, 2004

The quote below from Time articulates the essential argument against Dean. He made his case for the Democratic nomination that Bush needed to go. Nearly every democrat agreed. Unfortunately, nearly every democrat also asked "How do we get Bush out?". The answer, apparently, is not by nominating Dean. Kerry has surged on the "electibility" focus, but that theme's days are numbered. Edwards has the "Everyman" play -- what does Kerry have? The nomination, I think, will come down to Kerry and Edwards, and will be won or lost in Missouri, barring any embarrassment for Kerry in NH or Edwards in SC. TIME.com: What Becomes a President Most?: "In fact, the issue of style and temperament has everything to do with how Dean earned his front-runner position in the first place. He was the first to correctly read the Democratic electorate and channel its anger?not just at President Bush but at the Democrats in Washington who were still playing nice with a President who was playing for keeps. But this meant he could least afford to make a mistake. Once the conventional wisdom challenged his electability, the rationale for his candidacy started to crumble, and voters went searching elsewhere. 'Six months ago, they were all looking for straight talk,' said Joe Lieberman pollster Mark Penn. 'Now they're looking for someone who is serious enough to be President of the U.S.'"

Thursday, January 22, 2004

I recently signed up with Theworldvotes.org, because I consider the experiment they are conducting to be quite interesting. Given the tiny number of registrants, I don't think the experiment will yield much data, but I nonetheless I am interested to see the result of a far flung poll. One issue I take with the site is the language of "voting" versus "polling". As I see it, the results of the voting on the site is simply information, not a mandate on par with the results of the US election process. As a US citizen entitled to vote here, I am interested to see what people in other parts of the world think about our candidates. The results on the site may impact my decision, which I think is legitimate. However, it is completely illegitimate to suggest that the results should impact the official results, the process or any other aspect of the election.