Greg's Political Guest Entry: Discussion/Comments : LUSENET : Planning A Sky : One Thread

Discuss/make comments on Greg's political guest entry here.

-- Anonymous, November 07, 2002


Whoa, Greg. I have been so bummed about this election cycle, and you hit the nail right on the head. I had not really considered the long- term damage of the Clinton years until reading your piece. I'm still bummed, but at least with some clarity now.

Of course, here in Alabama, they are still counting votes in the Governor's race, and both Riley (R) and Siegelman (D) have made victory speeches. Some after-hours hanky-panky with tallies and reporting from the coastal counties has shifted the final count from Siegelman to Riley, making me wonder if maybe Riley has a brother named Jeb helping out down there.

I look forward to seeing your website.


-- Anonymous, November 07, 2002

Well, I don't believe it, that makes two Democrats whose opinions I actually respect... you and Rob Andrews... (oh and Jed Bartlett).

The aftershocks of the Clinton "presidency" will continue to run deep. He left the party confused. Liberals don't have a voice to back them up. Half of the time they don't even have a voice themselves. When a Democrat makes a point, at any given minute half of the party will agree. More and more I get the impression that if you ask a garden variety Liberal what he or she stands for they would point to the nearest Liberal and say, half of what he or she does. Look at what's going on out in Louisiana. Landrieu was aligned with the president on a lot of issues, now that she only got 46 percent of the vote, and there has to be a run off magically she doesn't agree with him. In addition to her. Look at New Jersey and Minnesota, Torricelli is told to quit or be found in a river, Wellstone dies, and the best your party can offer is two fossils they found next to the Declaration of Independence in the Smithsonian. We're supposed to be the party that has the white- haired, two breaths from death's door, fossils - not you guys. During Laughtenburg and Forrester's debate I kept expecting Laughtenburg's name to be flashed up there with Alzheimers patient under it. (Apparently there's a lot of that going around cause all of New Jersey forgot the crap he pulled when he was in office last time.)

Honestly, it's the frustrating thing about politics in general. I'm tired of hearing career politicians diss partisanship to get a gig. That's what the whole system was supposed to be all about. To ensure the minority opinion is heard. I'm tired that the only time you hear a candidates name in a ad for them is in the tag line at the end, after hearing for 60 seconds how bad of a guy the other person is. I would for once like to see two people stand at podiums and point fingers at themselves telling me what my vote, my part of democracy, will do for me. The problem is the 9 times out of ten, I'll go with the fornicating I know, not the fornicating I don't know.

But you and all the other Liberals out there shouldn't worry because you'll get Dashle in 04 and he'll lose - Bush's popularity is too high right now, setting us all up for "Clinton part duex" in '08 . If not her maybe Gary Hart??

BTW you must give me the URL to your site when it's up. I’d love to write a counterpoint for you, it could be called “The Right Way of Thinking”… Or maybe “The Shape of the Democratic Party to Come? “ (just a thought) While I might have to bring a dictionary to the debates I welcome the chance. :-)

"reflexive location in the center of a theoretical political spectrum as the height of intellectual and moral accomplishment." WOW! That's a lot of syllables... :-P

-- Anonymous, November 07, 2002

Correction. I meant to say that you'll have Gephardt in 2004. Wow he'll only be 63... In the flower of youth!!!

-- Anonymous, November 07, 2002

Y'know, Phil, in 1990, pundits though Bush Sr. was unbeatable, and that Bill Clinton was a long-winded unelectable bore.

I love a system where people see that Republicans have a 51-48 edge, a mere 2 vote swing (if the independent votes Democratic), and assumes that everything will go the elephant's way forever. In 1992, Clinton held everything, and the result was the so-called Republican Revolution of 1994.

Clinton's problem wasn't so much ideological as it was organizational- by the time he figured out how to be presidential, he lost the mandate, and had to play power politics and intern games for six years. People were not disgusted by some of his liberal policies- remember Harris Wofford's "health insurance reform" win in 91?-but his priorities. The fact that gays in the military became his first hot-button issue of his term showed just how poorly he managed his message. Had his staff spent as much time debunking the Rush-wannabes cries against "socialist health care" as they did putting out fires (Nannygate, "Don't Ask, Don't Tell", Whitewater), maybe we'd have something closer to universal health care than we do now.

Some of the failings of the Clinton presidency aren't his fault- the stock market bubble was as much a result of the hedge fund collapse a few years earlier that forced Greenspan to usurp monetary policy. But looking back, as much as I'm fascinated by Clinton the person, I'm forced to conclude that he could have managed the office much better than he did.

Having said that, I'm not convinced Bush will win in '04. Osama's still out there, the economy's a mess (and for all of the cries that he's in bed with his oil buddies, just how well have they done under Bush?), his priorities are a wreck, and there's few out there who actually think he can fix any of it. And if Florida pulls another election fraud out of its hat, I really think people are going to look for heads and massive change.

One thing that's going to have to come into play soon is the role of the Internet in running government. A truly secure, universal Net could minimize the need for republicanism (small 'r') and the corruption that it brings. If we can deliver votes to the government online, why do we need a Representative? If we hold to the model of a two-house party, we can still have a Senate, but we'd eliminate some of the mess in Washington.

We're not there yet, but as America gets more wired (and not just with PCs- every Xbox has a net adapter, cable boxes are in more homes, and cell phones are all over the place), representational government is going to go the way of the dodo. And that's when life gets interesting, politically.

Thanks for your piece, Greg. Really interesting reading. I hope you do more of it.

-- Anonymous, November 08, 2002

But really, Greg, tell us how you feel! Just kidding!

I can't say I agree or disagree with you completely. I believe that part of the problem the Democrats have is that they don't have a message or a set of beliefs substantially different from the Republicans. It's almost as if the Republicans said something and the Democrats said "we agree, but 'in moderation.'"

Then again, I am no longer a fan of the "label game" that many seem to play. What's so great about being a "liberal" or "left-wing"? What's so great about being a "conservative" or "right-wing"? And what's so wonderful about being - as Al Gore puts it - a "raging moderate"? Nothing. And there's nothing wrong about any of them either. Are there differences? Absolutely. Do those differences make one side better than the other? Not at all.

It would be much more effective - and much more challenging as well - to try to solve problems not by applying a "liberal" or "conservative" solution but rather by thinking about what all the the options to solve the problem are, what they may mean, what the foreseeable consequences of each option are, and whether they make sense. I don't believe that "liberals" have the best answers to all the problems. Neither do "moderates" or "conservatives." That type of thinking is to be expected in most religions where "my truth is THE TRUTH to the exclusion of all others" but not for politics. Situations change and what worked yesterday may not work tomorrow.

That said, Greg, you entry is very thought-provoking and I enjoyed it a lot. Keep 'em coming.

-- Anonymous, November 08, 2002

Roberto: Ideological labels are descriptively useful to the extent they correspond with thought-out opinions -- no more, no less. That's why I distinguished between my loathing of people who revel in the label "moderate" and my respectful indifference toward those who hold thought-out opinions that the label accurately (for many/most observers) describes. You're right to note that the labels "left," "right," etc. can also be refuges for the intellectually lazy. I just think "moderate" is the safest and thus most popular such refuge in our time and place. I do take issue with the implication -- which you may or may not have intended -- that the close correspondence of one's views with any given label indicts the views. The reason, for instance, my views correspond well with most people's conception of "left-wing" is that I accept a set of first principles (radical equality good, markets untrustworthy, collective action trustworthy, etc.) that tend to define most people's understanding of the label. I think first principles are fine, even essential, elements of meaningful political problem-solving. They only take you so far, of course, which is why there isn't any generally understood left-wing position on gambling or right-wing position on suburban sprawl.

Ray: I'm going to be a jerk and disagree with every thoughtful position you took. (1) Maybe Bush will lose, but I'm not going to sleep better at night wrapping myself in hopeful historical precedent. His father (about whom you don't want to get me started, ever) lost in spite of the hand history dealt him, not because of it, and we can only count on the bad guys to make so many mistakes. (2) I think Clinton's organizational ineptitude worked hand-in-glove with his ideology. Like I was just babbling about, he was largely a reflexive moderate rather than a principled one, and that reflex led to both political spinelessness and strategic indecision. Exhibit A: Lani Guinier. (3) I'm too much of an old Luddite to share your prediction about the Internet, and I'm pretty sure I don't like the idea anyway. I like republicanism, if you mean collective decisionmaking through responsible representatives, and I don't think the perfect atomization of pure government-by-referendum is any more desirable than it is workable.

Phil: Respect back at you. I wasn't just blowing smoke in my entry; this happens to me a lot, getting along better with the people who disagree with my politics a lot rather than just a little, and I suspect it happens to you too. As for the substantive exchanges whose rarity in politics you lament, the Mondale-Coleman debate Monday was supposed to have filled the bill. Not bad for a fossil and a haircut.

Kathy: Thanks. I still can't believe someone named "Siegelman" is Governor of Alabama. That, if nothing else, is progress.


-- Anonymous, November 08, 2002


As a longtime Democrat and liberal, I share your concern that the party stands for nothing (or perhaps everything in moderation). For the life of me, I cannot understand why more Democrats didn't take a principled stand against Bush II's irresponsible tax cut plans and why more of them didn't speak out against, or at least question his proposed invasion against Iraq, but instead gave him carte blanche to do as he pleased. As a law student, forced to read one too many Scalia opinions, I truly fear what the next two years of Republican nation is going to do to the federal courts.

We get, as they say, what we pay for. And as long as both major parties are essentially spokespersons for various, slightly distinguishable versions of the corporate viewpoint, we're not going to have any real politics in this country, in as much as politics means genuine debate between people with well thought-out and differing opinions as opposed to the 30-second soundbites that boil down to "vote for me because the other candidate is a bad guy."

We do need a major overhaul of the American electoral system so that the interests of someone other than corporate American, whose contributions foot the bills for the current system, ca have their viewpoints heard and represented in Congress.

-- Anonymous, November 09, 2002

Greg: Happens to me all the time. Case in point... your wife... Unfortunately I missed the Mondale/Coleman debate so I can't really comment. Not that that ever stopped me before... :-)

-- Anonymous, November 09, 2002

Yes, I love both the Democrats AND the Republicans in my life. Even if they are really, really wrong. :-)

-- Anonymous, November 09, 2002

Bill Clinton was always a Blue Dog Democrat which is pretty moderate in the grand scheme of things.

I am surprised that there hasn't been more outrage against the Bush Tax cut or the war with Iraq. There's been a lot of nothing coming from the left side of the aisle.

-- Anonymous, November 11, 2002

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