I LOVE comments. Please leave some even if they are brief half-formed ideas
that you aren't even sure you really believe. I just love comments.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Settling

Well, John Edwards is out of the presidential race. Fear not, it appears Ralph Nader may fill the void. Nonetheless, those who favor taking direct and dramtic steps towards social justice, as opposed to a rising tide lifts all boats approach, are likely to not have a serious choice for president.

Similarly, it appears War Without End candidate John McCain will beat out the social conservatives for the Republican nomination. Question: May one settle on the lesser of two evils? What about when there is another choice, like Green or Unity 08 candidate, that gives the option of a protest vote?

Pragmatism played a role in the Biblical stories of Esther and Daniel. In both cases the Israelite in question hid his or her Hebrewness from the foreign power, waiting for the most effective moment to be bold. Of course, Daniel also contains the story of three Israelites who were thrown into a burning furnace rather than bow to an idol.

And, Barry Goldwater said, "I would remind you that extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice! And let me remind you also that moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue!" Acceptance Speech as the 1964 Republican Presidential candidate. So there's that.

11 comments:

David said...

JimII:

I think Nader said it best: "I'm a 20-year veteran of pursuing the folly of the least worst between the two parties. Because when you do that, you end up allowing them both to get worse every four years."

The Democrats have abandoned the more progressive choice and have thus ridden the "centrist, electable" candidate to defeat twice in a row now. It looks like they will need to learn this lesson a third time. I'm reminded of another bit of wisdom: "Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, same on me."

David Johnson
Chandler, Arizona

JimII said...

Every person who voted for Ralph Nader in 2000 in Florida is as responsible for the Bush Presidency as those who voted for Bush.

If a person believes that there is no difference between George Bush than Al Gore, then that choice is defensible. If a person believes that Gore is better but Nader is best, well, that person's irresponsible vote is not defensible.

You seem to believe that centrist Democrats and conservative Republicans govern in the same fashion. If so, then I can understand why you might not support the Democratic Candidates.

I find that premise, however, exactly as believable as the notion that the Earth is 6,000 years old or that if we had fought in Vietnam a little harder we could have won. I think there are mountains of data to contradict the notion, but I know you've seen them and still hold a belief that confounds me. Luckily there is more to talk about and ponder than just who we should vote for.

Love,
JimII


BTW, I support Obama because he is inspiring, intelligent, a civil rights lawyer, a constitutional law professor, and has the power to bring a divided nation together; not because I think he is electable.

I voted for Kerry instead of Dean because of electability, and I will never, ever do that again. I'm sorry world.

JimII said...

This was too harsh:
If a person believes that Gore is better but Nader is best, well, that person's irresponsible vote is not defensible.

Nader drives me crazy, but I shouldn't let it interfer with the shared inquiry. What I should have written is, "David, do you think one should vote for Nader (or another 3d party candidate) because the Dems&Reps are the same, or do you believe, that inspite of the fact that the Dems or Reps may be closer to one's beliefs, one should vote for the candidate he or she most agrees with, not the one he or she agrees with that also may get elected."

Pretend that is what I wrote.

JimII

David said...

JimII:

"Every person who voted for Ralph Nader in 2000 in Florida is as responsible for the Bush Presidency as those who voted for Bush."

This is simply not true. The fault lies in part with Gore who campaigned to the right to get the five or so percent of "centrist" voters who offset the five or so percent who voted for Nader. Let's not forget whom Gore chose as his running mate: Joe Lieberman who has stood by Dubya on Iraq ever since.

The fault also lies with Democrats like Nancy Pelosi, and Harry Reid, and Hillary Clinton--set to secure the Democratic nomination on Tuesday (and now inching toward Dubya-like tactics to get Florida delegates who voted for her seated at the convention)--who voted to authorize and fund Dubya's debacle in Iraq every year since!

Trying to place responsibility for the catastrophe of Dubya's presidency on Nader voters given these circumstances is simply absurd.

"If a person believes that there is no difference between George Bush than Al Gore. . . . You seem to believe that centrist Democrats and conservative Republicans govern in the same fashion."

Putting aside Iraq, would you please point to the three policy initiatives that you believe most distinguish the Bush-Cheney Administration and the Clinton-Gore Administration? Even when it comes to Gore's pet project, he allowed the Clinton Administration to refuse to work for Senate ratification of the Kyoto Treaty.

So, when you imply that there actually were relevant policy differences--not just rhetoric--between candidate Bush and candidate Gore I'd sure like to know exactly what it is you mean.

". . . do you think one should vote for Nader (or another 3d party candidate) because the Dems&Reps are the same. . . ?"

Yes. Participate in the primaries, vote third party, stay home, but I see no point in voting for a Democrat over a Republican just because Democrats like to tell themselves that, for example, congressional oversight of the occupation of Iraq has been "better" under a Democratic-controlled Congress than it was when the GOP was in control.

Indeed, I am dumbfounded that any progressive can advocate on behalf of a party that continues to include someone like Lieberman in its Senate caucus and that is about to nominate someone for President who has supported Dubya's policy in Iraq and in the "war on terror" in every vote of her Senate career.

Imagine where the nation--and the world--would be today if Gore had walked away from Clinton after the Lewinsky scandal, or after the abandoning of Kyoto. Most likely Gore would be finishing his second term in the White House and hold his Nobel Prize.

Or imagine where we'd be if Democrats had nominated Dean instead of Kerry in 2004. Most likely Dubya would still be President but congressional Democrats likely would have forced substantial modification to Dubya's occupation policy and we'd be choosing between several genuinely anti-war Democrats--like Russ Feingold--for the Party's presidential nominee.

So, if you want to consider historical alternatives, ask yourself how many people have died in Iraq because most Democrats voted for Kerry rather than Dean.

David Johnson
Chandler, Arizona

JimII said...

1. Illegal Domestic Spying Program
2. Appointing Right Wing Extremist Judges
3. Denying Global Warming preventing investigation into it.

These are three things, besides the Second Gulf War, that would be different if liberals were more pragmatic and less dogmatic.

BTW, what are you talking about Lewinsky for? 70% of the American people supported Clinton during that "scandal." Gore lost in 2000 largely because he distanced himself from the most successsful Democratic President since FDR.

You honestly think that Clinton not somehow making the Republicans in Congress ratify Kyoto means his administration is the same on environment as Bush? You honestly think the V-chip is the same as Domestic Spying Program(s)?

This is why politics in America is hard today. We just don't have the same set of facts.

Finally, re:Kerry, you are right. I've learned from my mistake and will not vote to avoid the Republican attack dogs. They are unavoidable.

David said...

JimII:

I think part of our difference in perspective is that I tend to look at actions while you seem to find more importance in rhetoric. Let's look at some examples:

"1. Illegal Domestic Spying Program"

What illegal program? Surely if Administration officials have been engaged in an illegal domestic intelligence program the Democratic Congress would by now have begun impeachment proceedings against Administration officials who have committed such crimes?

Yes, Democrats have given us a lot of rhetoric about Administration abuses in this area but when it comes to action have we seen anything of substance?

So, for you to claim that this situation would have been appreciably different under a Gore Administration you have to claim that Gore's officials would act substantially different from their peers in the current Democratic-controlled Congress. I suppose that's always a possibility but you'll have to excuse me if I don't find it particularly likely.

"2. Appointing Right Wing Extremist Judges"

Do you mean like Reagan-appointee Sandra Day O'Connor who was the darling of liberals before her departure? Or perhaps you mean nominees like Justice Alito and Chief Justice Roberts, both of whom were warmly endorsed by Gore's running mate, Sen. Lieberman (and confirmed by a majority of his Democratic colleagues, including Sen. Clinton).

I found this argument compelling back in '84 when Mondale was running against Reagan but now it's just a battle that was lost years ago. Mostly it is of interest today as an indicator of when Democrats are getting anxious about losing the White House yet again. . . .

"3. Denying Global Warming preventing investigation into it."

This is the most obvious indication of your preference for rhetoric over action. If Gore were unwilling to go to the mat for Kyoto against his own President what could possibly lead you to believe he would do so when he himself were President?

You're absolutely right though, if Gore had been President there would be less "denying" of global climate change and perhaps even a bit more climate change research but when it comes to actual policy changes--gasoline taxes, mass transit construction, an end to domestic agricultural subsidies so that Brazilians and Indonesians will stop cutting down forests and grow food for export instead, etc.--I can't imagine why you expect a Gore Administration would be doing--as opposed to just saying--anything different.

"This is why politics in America is hard today. We just don't have the same set of facts."

No, I don't think the problem is different facts. The problem is a preference among too many folks for empty rhetoric over substantive action.

David Johnson
Chandler, Arizona

David said...

JimII:

"BTW, what are you talking about Lewinsky for? 70% of the American people supported Clinton during that 'scandal.'"

Unlike most Democrats I saw Clinton's behavior as an instance of the very sort of workplace sexual harassment by a superior of his very junior subordinate which we feminists have been railing against for decades. If the CEO of an American corporation had been having sex in the workplace with a very junior subordinate this would have been clear to folks--we would have found claims of "consent" on the part of the subordinate in such circumstances to be absurd--whose partisan commitments blinded them to Bubba's misdeeds

I'm certain Gore, whose eldest daughter is the same age as Lewinsky, had visceral, personal disgust for his boss's workplace behavior. Had he allowed himself to be driven by this personal moral sense, rather than by what seemed to be political expediency, he could have told Clinton privately that he would resign if the President himself would not take the action NOW would have vociferously demanded of any American CEO in similar circumstances.

Bubba, of course, would have laughed at him but if Gore had then himself resigned as Vice President, explaining his reasons for doing so, I suspect he would have been unbeatable in 2000 precisely on the character grounds with which Dubya and his GOP hatchet-men (and -women) made such political hay.

But hey, I'm an odd egg who believes that a personal moral code is an essential component of civic leadership and right living generally.

David Johnson
Chandler, Arizona

JimII said...

David,

It is absurd to assume that everything the Democrats could not stop as the minority party in the Congress, or a tiny majority for the last year, they would have done in the White House. That is just completely dishonest.

Just because the Democrats did not filabuster Alito doesn't mean that if there was a Democratic president he or she would have nominated Alito, or like person. Just because they didn't impeach Bush for his high crimes doesn't mean a Democratic President would have committed them.

This reasoning doesn't pass logical muster and allows you to indulge the notion that there is no cost to ignoring the real world in favor of ideologue behavior.

David said...

JimII:

"Just because the Democrats did not filabuster Alito . . . . Just because they didn't impeach Bush for his high crimes. . . ."

But what does it mean that the Democrats did not do these things? If changing the balance of the Court was not worth a filibuster, what is? What does it mean that the Democrats have not been willing to change the course of the occupation even in the majority in Congress? What does it mean that the Democrats are about to nominate a candidate for President who has voted with Dubya on the war and occupation every step of the way?

What is there exactly about this behavior that leaves you with any confidence that the Democratic establishment will do things any differently in the future?

It is ironic that it seems to be only conservative Christians who believe that their principles are more important than political pragmatism. They have been willing this presidential election to see their party defeated after years of being dissatisfied with its failure to deliver on its political promises. After years of the experience of disappointment they understand that rhetoric is not an adequate substitute for action.

What a shame that religious progressives seem no longer to have a similar commitment to principle.

David Johnson
Chandler, Arizona

JimII said...

"After years of the experience of disappointment they understand that rhetoric is not an adequate substitute for action."

You are wrong to characterize the disagreement with in this way. The question is, is imperfect action a substitute for perfect action.

David said...

JimII:

"You are wrong to characterize the disagreement with in this way. The question is, is imperfect action a substitute for perfect action."

I don't think so. You haven't described any actual action, imperfect or otherwise, in this discussion. All you've mentioned so far is "might have beens" and "hope to bes."

On the other hand, I've pointed to consistent failures--not "imperfect action" but failures--in both the Administration Sen. Clinton bases so much of her claims to experience upon and the Democratic majority Congress that was seated a year ago.

Failing even to bring Kyoto to a vote was not "imperfect action." Bombing civilians in Serbia was not "imperfect action." "Don't ask don't tell" was not "imperfect action." Abandoning millions of poor children and their mothers through welfare "reform" was not "imperfect action." Squandering the post-Cold War "peace dividend" on the privatization of military affairs--an idea cooked up by Bubba's defense secretary long before Rummy ever returned to the Pentagon--was not "imperfect action."

And the Democratic Congress giving Dubya every dollar he asked for to continue to fund his debacle in Iraq--without a single condition--is not "imperfect action" by any stretch of the imagination!

The question isn't "imperfection" vs. "perfection." The question is how many more years must it be before progressives realize the Democratic emperor has no clothes? How long will the Democratic discourse of fear--"anything is better than those big, bad Republicans"--dominate what passes for progressive thinking in America?

David Johnson
Chandler, Arizona