Political Self Gratification (2)MAOTE: We're doing this again? Jesus. Jimmy Rabbit never interviewed himself this much.
DN: I have a great many things to say about politics at the moment, like every other blogger on the Internet, and this particular format will let me ramble about nearly all of it to my hearts content. So deal with it.
MAOTE: Yes sir. Dealing, sir. Okay. You have a great many things to say about politics. Hit me.
DN: Okay. First... yes, I'm getting as stressed and pissy as anyone else about how long this goddam Democratic primary is taking to resolve.
MAOTE: But, you have a 'but'.
DN: Of course I have a 'but'. But, I think maybe it could be useful if more people remembered that this is exactly what many of us demanded, back at the start of primary season.
MAOTE: Wait. What? 'Many of us demanded' a protracted primary between two truculent showboats that may well end up destroying the eventual victor's chances of actual election, and that is certainly going to at least substantially weaken that electibility?
DN: Well, I grant you, that's not how we put it. What we were all whining and bitching and screaming and kicking our feet about was the primary scheduling system that made most of our votes pointless and redundant. What we wanted was a primary where our votes would actually count. Well, we got one. Usually, the nominees for both parties are decided by Super Tuesday at the latest, and everyone who lives in a state that holds primaries afterwards has more influence over the winner of AMERICAN IDOL than they do over who will be running for President. This primary season, that's all changed. We wanted a primary where our votes would count, this season, our votes will count.
MAOTE: Okay, but... we didn't want this. We just wanted every state to have its primaries on the same day, say, in March, so everyone's vote would count.
DN: Many of us wanted that, but I distinctly remember several of the wonkier poli-bloggers gushing about how cool it would be if things remained undecided up to the convention, how that hadn't happened in a long time and it would really shake things up in a healthy way for the whole political apparatus in America.
MAOTE: Okay, well, those guys were assholes.
DN: Big time. Still, it's important to keep in mind, as we rant and rave that Clinton or Obama should drop out and stop hurting the Democrats' chances to take the White House... we wanted this. We begged for it. We yearned for a primary season where our votes, every single one of them, would be important to the outcome. And here we are.
MAOTE: Be careful what you wish for.
DN: Yes infuckingdeed. To underscore this we need do nothing more than look at the arguments currently being made by Clinton's camp against premature declaration of loyalties by the superdelegates. Their premiere point is that there are millions of Democratic votes still uncounted, and to effectively end the primary season here by locking down the superdelegate votes would be to disenfranchise all those poor voters. Of course, (a) those primaries will still be held and people will still get to vote, it's just that, like nearly every other election year, their votes will effectively be meaningless, and (b) if Clinton were leading the delegate count and confident the superdelegates were going to go her way, she'd be leading the 'shut this primary down now' pack her damn self. Nonetheless, it's the very fact that so many people screamed so long and so hard for a primary season where their votes would actually make a difference that is empowering Clinton now. She's spinning this so that by not dropping out, she's a champion of the people who wants ALL the votes counted, instead of a petulant, entitled brat throwing the world's biggest and potentially most destructive hissy fit because she has actually lost a tough, well contested primary instead of sailing smoothly and without serious opposition through what she feels should have been an anointment to power.
MAOTE: Okay. So while we're bitching about the extended primary season this year, and wishing to God that one or the other of the candidates would just stand down and concede it to the other one, we should remember that this is the kind of primary we thought we wanted, back before we actually had it.
DN: Yeah. And it's interesting to consider parallels to the 2000 Presidential election too. I remember feeling exactly this way back then, during the endless weeks after election day when we still had no clearly announced winner. "Dammit, somebody needs to man up and concede... as long as it's Bush".
MAOTE: Heh. Yeah, I remember that feeling. So, we need to remember, when we're bitching about it, this is what we wanted.
DN: And that's not all. Yeah, it's frustrating having this thing drag on for so long, but consider this... as a general rule, Presidential candidates run to the extremes of their political spectrum in order to get their party's nomination, and as soon as they have it, they move immediately to the center. The classic thinking is, okay, I have the Republican or Democratic nomination, so all the hardcore members of that party are going to vote for me. Now I need to pick up the moderates and the undecideds, so I need to run to the center. And if you look at both Obama and Clinton, both of them were very clearly positioning themselves to sprint back to the center the instant they locked down the nomination. McCain was, too... hell, so was Huckabee. Romney campaigned from much closer to the center than any of them.
MAOTE: So, you're saying that the long, drawn out primary is good because it's kept both Obama and Clinton over on the left.
DN: I wouldn't use the word 'good'. I'm pointing out that this dark cloud has a silver lining, and that if the candidate of your preference had locked down the Democratic nomination two months ago, and you're any kind of real liberal or progressive, you'd be pulling your hair out right now and screaming bloody murder about how suddenly Clinton/Obama has turned into a raving Republican. And they wouldn't have, but, well, they'd be courting the center very aggressively, taking for granted that the left wing of the Democratic party may grumble and bitch, but, in the end, they'll dutifully roll out and vote for the Democratic nominee. The drawn out primary has prevented that, although I will say that Clinton is so clearly itching to run back towards the right that she's inching back there almost unconsciously, probably despite everything that everyone else in her campaign is telling her to do. She can't afford to run as a Republican right now, which is pretty much what she's doing... although, since her campaign is on life support and she's praying for a miracle anyway, I guess she might as well do what comes natural to her.
MAOTE: Okay. So, as you're an Obama man, I presume you come down on the 'Hilary should drop out of the race' side of the controversy...
DN: First, I'm not an Obama man, I'm a Nader man. Obama is very much the lesser of several evils.
MAOTE: You're not going to vote for Nader again...
DN: No, destroying the world once is plenty for one lifetime. But while I like Obama more than I like Clinton, especially given the way Clinton has behaved over the past six, seven weeks of campaigning, and I like both of them much, much better than I like John McCain, still, I think all of them are pretty much entirely bought and paid for by the Powers That Be. Obama may do some good things should he get into office... Clinton might, too... and McCain certainly won't... and unfortunately that's pragmatically what we have to base our decisions as voters on. Some good things, probably; some good things, maybe; or no good things and a great deal of shit. But neither Obama nor Clinton are going to do any of the good things that really NEED to be done.
MAOTE: Which are...?
DN: Well, many specific things, but in general they all come down to, seeing to the fair collection and distribution of wealth and resources. Which is, honestly, government's only real and valid purpose, anyway.
MAOTE: Can you be more specific...? Say you get elected President. What do you do?
DN: Begin immediate troop withdrawals from Iraq, as well as any place else where the native populace doesn't want our troops stationed. Appoint a lot of special prosecutors to investigate government corruption on every level. Declassify everything Bush and Cheney classified and start faxing documents to every media outlet in the world. Tell the IRS to start looking hard at American corporations doing business overseas, and especially at overseas accounts and transactions. Overhaul the Federal tax code so everyone can understand it without hiring an expert. Crack down hard on every single special interest that has spent a great deal of money lobbying the Federal government for special favors in the last 20 years. Design and implement a decent universal health care plan. Get some really good forensic accountants, give them special prosecutor powers, and have them start a comprehensive, utterly transparent audit of the Federal budget system.
MAOTE: Okay, you even try that last one and somebody will shoot you in the head.
DN: Probably somebody in the Secret Service who's actually on the NSA payroll, yes. But, still, it's something that has to be done. It won't be, probably not ever, but if we're ever going to have a chance at really cleaning up our government, we have to open the books. Not half assed, we have to do it for real.
MAOTE: Well... okay, I agree with you, but it ain't gonna happen, cap'n. What else would you do? Any specific program or policy proposals you like?
DN: I'd like to see the Federal government buy every house in America that has been on the market for six months or longer, and then give those houses away to combat veterans and/ or their surviving families. Kind of like EXTREME MAKEOVER: HOME EDITION on a massive scale. I'd like to issue an Executive Order requiring every elected and appointed official to submit to a polygraph test and answer questions written by their constituents, no more than twice a year.
MAOTE: Whew. They will shoot you many, many times. Okay, anything else?
DN: Yeah. No more political advertising on the public airwaves. Create another C-SPAN channel and give Congress access to something like a public access TV studio. They do all their campaigning for free there.
MAOTE: What about freedom of speech?
DN: Oh, bullshit. There is no freedom of speech on the public airwaves; we regulate content on every broadcast TV channel there is. If the government can tell private citizens what they can and cannot say or show in commercial advertisements and commercial programming, we can sure as hell regulate political speech. You want to scream 'freedom of speech' for paid political attack ads that are mostly horseshit anyway, that's fine, but you also need to let FOX put on AMERICA'S UP AND COMING PORN STARS, or let Budweiser advertise their beer with topless models. And if that's indecent, then what the hell is lying to the American people about who they should and shouldn't elect to positions of authority over them?
MAOTE: Um... okay. Anything else?
DN: I'd like to see Congress work a little longer and a little harder, too. And I'd like to appoint a citizens' board that reviews all government salaries, perks, and proposed pay raises... or, hell, lets just put that stuff up to a national referendum. In fact, I'd like to see a great many things taken away from Congress and the Executive Branch and put up to national referendums.
MAOTE: Like declaring war?
DN: No, declaring war should stay with Congress. However, maybe we could let the people en masse vote on when to end wars... say, if we've been in a state of active aggressive war for 12 months, then the people get to vote on whether we continue with it, or we get the hell out.
MAOTE: Hmm. Any other shit you want to stir up in the brief moments you'll be sitting in the Executive Office before the missiles hit?
DN: We need to get serious about anti-trust laws, especially as regards our print and broadcast media. Several huge media conglomerates need to be broken into tiny little pieces.
MAOTE: Yeah, okay. And anything else?
DN: I'd like a serious review of any kind of top secret technology the government may have that hasn't been released to the public. I sincerely doubt we actually have working fusion or functional anti-grav, but maybe we do and the economic Powers That Be are sitting on it because, as Westinghouse once said to Tesla, there's no place to put the meter. If we have the technology to solve our energy crisis, or to let people have safe flying cars, well, fine. You move ahead. Stalling progress because somebody's stock market portfolio is going to take a hit doesn't work for me.
MAOTE: Okay. You realize, pretty much ANY of those will get any President who pursues them a bullet in the brain.
DN: Yeah. By definition. But those are the things that need to be done, and which aren't going to be. Call that my 'bullet points' list.