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May 02, 2003

Base Principles Take the Bush

Base Principles

Take the Bush administration's reaction to the mouthings of Trent Lott and Rick Santorum, as well as the Republican Party's in particular. Boil them down. Here's what you're left with.

A. It's not acceptable to treat black people like niggers.

B. But it's ok to treat homosexuals like faggots.

Now matter how I cook it, I can't come up with a couplet as verbally damning for the Democrats, not that they are any more consistent. Here's what their principles reduce themselves to:

A. It's not acceptable to treat homosexuals differently, because of their genes.

B. But it's ok to treat blacks differently, because of their genes.

The argument could be made that affirmative action is simply the flip side of racism in that while racism forces blacks into second-class status, affirmative action takes second-class status for granted. A racist says "You're not as good as me." where the quota adherent says "You're not as good as me, so I'll lower my standards." That's not so different.

Both parties practice group politics, they just go about it differently. A Republican who supports gay rights has about as much chance of leading his party as the Democrat who disavows affirmative action has of leading his. Republicans exclude groups. Democrats pander to them.

"Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." sounds simple enough, but adhering to such a philosophy would seem to rule out a successful political career, at least so far. Anyone actually following the Golden Rule is basically screwed as far as getting into office goes, which means that voters are also screwed. There's not an exact one for one tradeoff, but the primary process of each party ensures that come election day a voter is faced with choosing between an anti gay rights Republican and a pro quota Democrat.

And pundits wonder why people are so cynical about politics. They're cynical because the system seemingly functions, yet the end product isn't worth a damn in most cases.

Casting a protest vote, as many Nader voters discovered to their surprise, can backfire horribly. The Greens failed, and will continue to fail, because they only draw voters from one side of the spectrum. Most other third parties do the same. H. Ross Perot was the last viable third party candidate who received votes from across the spectrum, and he wasted his time running for president. If a third party wants to remain viable, then it needs to elect senators and representatives, not presidents. Being the balance of power in a closely divided Congress is guaranteed to keep the party's profile elevated in non election years, and in election years, people can feel much more comfortable casting a protest vote when they can cast it for someone whom they don't consider a total political opposite. Seats in congress would also make it much easier to fight election laws that tilt the political playing ground to the advantage of the current major parties.

Of course, there's the matter of actually getting those congressional seats to begin with. Any hypothetical third party would have to start off in states with a history of voting independent. New Hampshire springs to mind. But it would be much easier if a few disaffected Senators and Representatives from both sides decided to jump ship and form the Alternative party.

It's not likely to happen. Even disaffected politicos are treated like so much royalty, so no one is likely to jump. But a political system with three legs would inherently be more stable than the two-legged one we have now. Current political debates resemble nothing so much as a wildly swinging pendulum, as the political middle shifts left to denounce Trent Lott, then right to upbraid Tom Daschle, then left again to denounce Rick Santorum. It's exhausting.

And as long as politicians are allowed to pander to the extreme elements of their parties without paying a price at the polls, it will continue.

Posted by Bigwig at May 2, 2003 03:08 PM | TrackBack
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