Oh, actually, before I begin, a bit of housekeeping: in the comments on the last post Janet asked why I consider age an issue of proximity rather than identity. The short answer is, “I dunno, seemed like a good idea at the time.” The long answer is more of a feeling I get when thinking about age. See, no one chooses to be 30 years-old. All 30 year-olds, however, are largely grouped together. This actually makes a certain amount of sense, I think, since everyone within five years of me grew up largely with the same influences and experiences. I can talk about, say, Saved By the Bell to my peer group and they get it. We all hit puberty thanks to Kelly Kapowski, basically. A fifty year-old won’t get it. A teenager won’t, either.
There are some things where age is actually a better demonstration of commonality than geographic location, too. This is largely a factor of mass media and communication and probably an artifact of the last half of the 20th Century going forward. To take the obvious example, I grew up with The Simpsons and so did pretty much everyone else in my age range. I can use The Simpsons as a sort of lingua franca to engage with people from all over the United States and all over the English-speaking world. Yes, older people watched it and now it’s been around long enough that younger people have grown up with it, too, but it’s a key point of commonality for my generation.
In short, I don’t really feel that I identify as a 31 year-old male. There are, however, a bunch of things that I identify with because of my age that I share on a deeper level with people between, say, 25 and 37 than I would with someone younger or older than that.
Okay, then, back to politics.
I pretty much see American politics as primarily a fight between Team Red and Team Blue. This, I think, is a genuine failure of the American winner-take-all electoral system. See, it’s been this way since the very beginning.
The second President of the United States was John Adams. He was a Federalist and terrified of what would happen if the Democratic-Republicans took over the country in 1800. As such, he passed the Alien and Sedition Acts, which were really four different acts. The two biggies for the purpose of this discussion were the Naturalization Act, which increased the period of citizenship from a 3 year notice and 5 year residence to a 5 year notice and 14 year residence, and the Sedition Act, which made it illegal to say anything against the government or its officials. The Naturalization Act was supposed to be for national security purposes, but was really an attempt to keep naturalized citizens from voting for the Democratic-Republicans.
If these sound familiar, well, America has a rich and disturbing history of hypocrisy. We’re supposedly a nation of immigrants and a great melting pot that also turns on immigrants and non-whites in general at the first possible opportunity. Other than a brief stretch in the 1870s it was impossible for blacks to become naturalized until 1952. The Chinese, well, the Chinese got the short end of the stick time and again. And the whole thing where criticizing the Bush Administration was considered treason? Yeah, that goes back to the Sedition Act. Also HUAC and probably a bunch of other things I can’t remember or don’t know about.
The guy the Alien and Sedition Acts was directed at must have been dangerous, right? One of the Founding Fathers was prepared to drive a dagger into the very heart of the American experiment barely a decade after the Constitution was written, so it must have been to fight a deep, existential threat. It’s fortunate, then, that John Adams won the election of 1800 to defeat potential Democratic-Republican President Skeletor von Hitler, a/k/a Snooki Zuckerberg.
Wait, what’s that? He lost. Well, fuck, I guess that’s why America sucks. The third President must have been…Thomas Jefferson? The guy who wrote the goddamn Declaration of Independence? That Thomas Jefferson?
Anyway, the election of 1800 was, by all accounts, a vicious campaign filled with the surrogates of two of the Founding Fathers slinging as much shit at each other as possible. Knowing this, I have a hard time engaging in the Founding Father worship so prevalent in the American people. I actually pretty much think that the Founding Fathers were douchebags. I also think that they were forward-thinking revolutionaries who wrote an amazing-for-its-time, but ultimately heavily flawed, document.
That’s the true legacy we received from the Founding Fathers. Most voters pull the lever for the Republican or Democratic candidate not because they’ve thought through the issues, but because they know that their guy is the good guy and the other guy is the bad guy. It doesn’t matter if the good guy is John Adams or the bad guy is Barack Obama. That’s not a good reason to vote for the leader of the country.
So everyone knows that the Republicans cynically misrepresented Obama’s, “You didn’t build that,” line to create a totally disingenuous campaign. This cynical misrepresentation goes far enough that it was an entire day at the Republican National Convention. It’s unconscionable, right?
Well, has anyone on the Blue Team actually listened to Romney’s, “Corporations are people,” line in context? Take a look:
If you actually listen past the first line and the boos, and consider that it was originally a quick answer to a shouted question from the crowd, Romney’s point was that corporations are made up of people and that the money made by corporations ends up in the hands of people.
From here you could have an actual conversation. It would probably be pretty much be the same crap we’ve got now, where it’s Reaganomics v. an increase in the top marginal tax rate for people earning more than $250,000/year and we’d probably still be stuck where we are.
However, Romney’s comments basically got conflated with the Citizens United decision that for corporations money = speech and that corporations should have First Amendment rights just like people. Or that’s how I seem to recall that whole thing going. It’s still so far outside the realm of sane jurisprudence that my mind boggles at the whole thing.
For the record, every single time I hear someone level that attack at Romney, including Elizabeth Warren doing it at the DNC, I get slightly annoyed. But it’s going to keep happening, because, dammit, somebody’s got to score points for the Blue Team.
Oh, and, seriously, the only reason I’m going with that example is because I can’t talk about the use of the words “socialist” and “fascist” in American dialog without going in to a frothing rage. I also can’t help but remember that there were a lot of people about this time four years ago claiming that Gee Dubs wasn’t going to leave the White House when his time was up. Basically, the reason we can’t have nice things in America is because most of the electorate on both sides of the aisle is made up of fucktards. But, thanks to the internet, they pretty much make that obvious. I’ve had a better time of it since I realized that anyone who spells America as Amerika or AmeriKKKa can be safely ignored. They might be Blue Team and I might be somewhat aligned with the goals of Blue Team, but, seriously, fuck that person.
While many of my beliefs are in line with the Democratic Party’s platform, I do not consider myself a Democrat. I consider myself an independent progessive who will vote anti-Republican as a tie-breaking decision since, holy shit, the Republican Party as it’s currently comprised scares the crap out of me. I would really like to live in a world where the opposition to Barack Obama is pointing out that he’s mushy on issues like civil liberties and torture, rather than calling him a Kenyan Muslim atheist White House usurping baby eater. Call me crazy.
And, y’know, “We need to vet the Democratic candidate for President,” is pretty goddamn weak sauce when he’s the fucking incumbent.
The Obama Administration hasn’t been so great on civil liberties, either. We were promised the most transparent presidency ever, but Obama and his DOJ seem to have state secrets Tourettes, claiming that every fucking thing is a state secret no matter how stupid. Oh, and try not to be a whistleblower, either, since you’ll get your ass in a vise if you try it.
Jefferson’s overall positions are interesting to consider in light of modern American politics. He was an anti-Federalist, which means that he didn’t like the idea of a strong Federal government, preferring to have most power devolve to the several states instead. This tracks well with modern Republican thinking. He also was not a big fan of a powerful military, because, y’know, a strong federal army is just asking for trouble. This tracks well with, well, basically no one in modern America. However, it’s the antithesis of modern Republican thinking, as demonstrated by that bit where Paul Ryan wants to give the military more money than the Joint Chiefs asked for.
Jefferson also proposed nullification and anonymously advocated secession for Kentucky over the issue of nullification over the Alien and Sedition Acts. This pretty much puts him in line with John C Calhoun and South Carolina during the Nullification Crisis and, later, the Confederacy. Also, too, the Great, Semi-Independent Republic of Texas’s own Chief Head of Hair, Rick Perry. However, we act like there were only two nullification issues and one laughable attempt by Rick Perry. There were, in fact, eight total antebellum issues where nullification was a thing, including Jefferson’s original case with Kentucky. The first involved Kentucky, the second involved New England’s opposition to the Embargo Act of 1807 and subsequent serious consideration of secession followed by a separate peace with England in the War of 1812, the third was from Virginia in reaction to federal judicial review of criminal cases, the fourth was an attempt to illegally tax the Bank of the United States by the State of Ohio, and the fifth came from Georgia because they thought the feds weren’t being nearly mean enough to the Cherokees. Then came the Nullification Crisis, followed by various Northern states’ attempts to nullify the laws of the Fugitive Slave Acts.
Post-Civil War nullification issues were generally attempts by states to override Federal equal treatment laws. But there’s absolutely no historical reason to think that state’s rights are exclusively an issue of racism and discrimination. And all of that is thanks to Thomas Jefferson.
Come to think of it, maybe John Adams was on to something…
Seriously. John Adams was kind of a dick. Thomas Jefferson, like many of the others, was a slave holder and a genuine racist. Benjamin Franklin was an arrogant womanizer. The big argument in the writing of the Constitution wasn’t whether the slaves should be freed, but how many should be counted in the census to divvy up the seats in the House of Representatives. They genuinely thought that women shouldn’t be allowed to vote. They were, in short, the elite, out of touch men of their age. And their age was filled with douchebags.
Again, I think that there are a bunch of people running for office as Republicans that could be genuinely considered bad guys. You couldn’t pay me enough to vote for Romney and Ryan. I feel the same way about pretty much everyone in the Tea Party. By the same token, I don’t think that the Tea Party in specific or the Republican Party in general is entirely filled with racist freaks who only want to get rid of the uppity black usurper. There are plenty of racist freaks in the ranks of the right, but there are also a lot of people who are just Red Team players and there are still old-school conservatives who still feel they should stick around. Also, too, there are the cynical operators who are just manipulating the whole thing for their own gain.
There’s also a great Daily Show bit from last week that pretty much puts to rest the idea that there are only fuzzy inclusive folks on the Blue Team:
|The Daily Show with Jon Stewart||Mon - Thurs 11p / 10c|
|Hope and Change 2 - The Party of Inclusion|