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Can The Left Get It Right?
A New Oxymoron: Democratic Leadership

When you have a situation in U.S. government wherein the legislative branch is considering disempowering the judicial branch , which has previously put in power the existing Executive branch, you begin to get the feeling that politicians in general probably don't care much what the "people" (whoever they are) want.

Does your vote still matter?

Good question. Depends really, upon whether or not you even know what you're voting for, which isn't easy to do these days. In the 2004 presidential election (the only elections which seem to draw a large number of interested voters), most Americans were voting for simple ideas like "do I trust a rich guy who brags about being in Vietnam and uses four syllable words all the time" or "do I trust a rich guy who's so dumb he says 'nucular' and bashes his head choking on pretzels".

This wasn't an accident (the issues at hand, not the pretzel incident). Just read Frank Luntz' GOP playbook to get a sense of how public debate is manipulated by high-powered, well-monied marketing experts. These people don't want to put forth what they think are good ideas and see if you agree, they want to get re-elected. If that means choosing an issue that is completely irrelevant to their overall plans, and even lying about the stance, they'll do it.

Add to this the facts that "public service" has come to mean a six-figure income with a multitude of perks, and that these "public servants" have engineered a well-financed, centrist two party system with an impossibly high financial investment for even getting on the ballot, and you'll be repeatedly rewarded with a fifty-fifty election result that pleases no-one.

Is there a way to change this? Some people think so. We've joked here before that the only way to really get America caring again would be to take their televisions away for awhile. Alternatively, perhaps the bellyaching intellectual liberals that weep for two weeks after an election and then go back to their high-paying jobs and fret over whether to take their Prius to the car wash or go see Hotel Rwanda could stay invested, and prove how smart they are by helping steer the country back in a direction that actually benefits everyone. (On that note, you know something has gone terribly wrong when using the expression "benefits everyone" smacks of socialism, which it seems to these days.)

A New Oxymoron: Democratic Leadership

So who to look to for leadership? Certainly not typical liberal heroes like Noam Chomsky, who's pitched the same "corporations are bad" drivel for twenty years while probably having a well-rounded investment folio that sinks money into all of them. Okay, we don't know where Noam Chomsky invests his money, but we do know that his complaint-based liberalism is beginning to sound pretty feeble right about now. My bet at this point in time is that no new Democratic leader will rise from the party ranks to offer something new by 2008. There's way too much money at stake, and far too much benefit is derived by too many organizations for any candidate to offer anything but "protection from a dangerous world".

Attention Democrats: Forget About 2008

I witnessed a perfect example today of why Democrats will probably lose again in 2008. I live in one of the most P.C., weepy liberal college towns in America. A friend visiting from Kenya wanted to buy some sandals at a local shoe store. As the owner (who casually knew my friend) was ringing up the sale, he said: "You know, I read the most interesting article about how they're planning to add a tax to plastic bags in Kenya to help with the litter problem. What a great idea!". My friend replied that they were actually planning to ban them altogether if they could, and hadn't heard anything about a tax. (This is actually a pretty serious issue in Kenya, for a slew of reasons.) The shop owner then went on: "Oh, no no no. I'm quite sure it was a tax. They've done the same thing in Ireland and elsewhere with much success, blah blah blah." The point being: here's a reasonably intelligent fellow, obviously concerned about things like the environment. Like so many liberals, his own brain and mouth will forever prevent his hands and feet from ever doing a damn thing he cares about, because he's so damn satisfied talking for hours about it, and showing how informed he is. In fact, he's so well informed that he prefers what he reads to the firsthand knowledge of a human being. I'm sure I'll see him with the other 17 anti-war protesters standing outside the local Federal building in a few weeks, dutifully protesting a war that doesn't know he exists while he sips his low fat, low foam, decaf latte.

If You See A Problem, Fix it.

So what can one do? Bloody hell. We're Americans, for cryin' out loud. The civil rights movement didn't require billion-dollar marketing plans, the internet and wireless communication. It happened via telephone and pavement-pounding. Do some research. If you think you're a Democrat, think again. Does this party really represent anything important to you? Or is it the other cola? The "people's party" seems to have gone adrift of this core belief a LONG time ago. If you're frustrated with the Dems strategies and values, check out being a Libertarian, a Green, or at least get involved in something that has some hope of impacting things. If you're rich, organize a lobby. Politicians don't generally care what people think anyway, they care what lobbies and corporations think. If you're not rich, join a movement that means something to you. Talking intelligently about world affairs is a wonderful way to pass the time at the cafe, but doesn't get people elected.

Coke or Pepsi? Personally I always liked RC Cola.

So what is this weepy, complaint-based liberal doing? Voting for and acting on what I believe in. I will never again vote for someone because they're not the other guy. I never believed in John Kerry, and winced as I cast my ballot for him. I love America, its Constitution, and the basic values of freedom and democracy we all cherish. I don't believe many politicians in our current two-party system do though, and I don't believe many citizens understand, or more importantly, care enough about how this country is evolving to effect real change. Personally, I'm going to continue making an honest re-assessment of which organizations actually espouse my values, and apply my energies there. There's frankly a pretty good chance that this won't involve supporting the Democratic Party.

Ian Gray
May 2005


Related Links

Since part one of this article, I've learned once again just how much I don't know about politics. A friend exposed me to the BBC series The Power of Nightmares, a great program you'll have a very hard time finding on American television. (I found a Bittorrent via ISOhunt . Good luck.) The program focused on the influence of Leo Strauss on the neoconservative movement in America. I had thought the 'cons had dreamed up their lunatic agenda all by themselves, but it apparently goes back to a University of Chicago Professor in the forties named Leo Strauss. Learn more here.

Libertarian Party
Review their platform. You might be surprised at how progressive the party actually is in many ways. Dirty Harry likes them, maybe you will too!

MoveOn has displayed a lot of media savvy over the past few years. A great place to voice your beliefs through pre-organized on line petitions.

Green Party
We actually share a lot of these beliefs, except the part where they expect to elect a candidate representing a party with a name like "Green Party".

Ralph Nader
As much as I admire the guy in many ways, I think he's lost it. Watch him debate Bush and Kerry dolls, and buy the DVD if you like.

If Democracy in America is Such a Joke, Why Not Treat it as Such:

If the Gods Had Meant Us to Vote, They'd Have Given Us Candidates

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