Post-political meta-platform meanderings…

I’ve been ruminating on the U.S. political scene for some time now. Most of you at least suspect that I’ll be voting to support the incumbent in a continuation of aggressive military policies. I’ll allow you to continue in this perception, because there’s not much point in my trying to convince you of what I REALLY think. Besides, the above is close enough for the sort of sweeping generalizations bloggers subsist upon.

My ruminations have little to do with the actual policies that I expect Kerry or Bush to promote if elected. Mostly I’m concerned about the way this election is tearing people up inside.

I’ve said it before: the policies of the sitting president have absolutely nothing to do with how you treat your neighbor. Deep down inside, all of us (except the genuinely sick or truly evil) want the same things. We yearn for meaningful companionship. We strive for a measure of material security. We feel pain at the pain of others. We want to have fun. Politicians will come and go, but these basics stay the same.

Politicians play these basics in their platforms. It’s not just a head-game, either. It’s not that one party or another doesn’t understand your needs. It’s that the people IN those parties have differing ideas about how to best MEET those needs (unless they’re anarchic libertarians, in which case they figure you’ll meet those needs on your own ANYWAY, so who needs government?). Let’s face it, though. The policies of a governing body can have only an impersonal, artificial impact on the basic desires of real people. A $200 tax credit? That’s little more than a momentary thrill, and certainly won’t bail anybody out of a decent string of bad luck.

The impact we individuals WANT is from each other. When a politician kisses a baby it’s a photo opportunity. When a mother kisses a baby it’s something else entirely.

Regardless of who wins, regardless of how close the election is, regardless of whether or not you think so-and-so “stole the election,” you’re still going to have neighbors on November 3rd. Be nice to them. Vote your conscience on the 2nd, and then be conscientious for the rest of the week.

Or (hey, why NOT?) maybe the rest of the year.

Oh, and be nice to each other in the comments below. Think of it as a dry run.

24 thoughts on “Post-political meta-platform meanderings…”

    1. Somethigns casting me back to the 10 minute hate,
      I can’t remember where i read the comparison, it may have been in this journal, soemthing about your neighbours are your neighbours all year, so hating them for the 10 minutes (or more realistically, week) of elections is kind of unrealistic, and you don’t want consequences afterwards, regardless of which side wins.

  1. Actually, I didn’t have an opinion on who you’d be voting for come november, even reading your journal whenever you post it. It is a little frightening that folks are supporting a fellow who’se group of decision makers doens’t “believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.” but hey, whatever floats their boat.

    1. Indeed – take this as a little aside to the main discussion. Incidentally, on the main point, I wholeheartedly agree with Howard on that. And being nice to your neighbours is something I try to extend on the country scale too. You guys, down South, are my neighbours. I’m just not sure if you see the big picture, as it’s being seen from outside the States.

      I believe I can safely say (and I’ve got the numbers to back me up) that pretty much the entire world (except, according to a recent worldwide survey, Russia, Poland and Israel) want the incumbent to step down.

      It’s the same here in Canada – from what I hear on the street, in the news, on TV, the general sentiment is “I can’t believe they voted for him in the first place, and now they’re gonna re-elect him?”

      Then again, we’re a notoriously more left-oriented bunch up here. (which reminds me – if “the incumbent” wants to call “the challenger” left-wing, perhaps he should have a look at what’s being done up here – gay marriages, pot decriminalized, free and universal health care, free non-religious schools, under-a-thousand-bucks-a-semester universities, often covered by government grants… kinda puts everything back into perspective.)

      1. And I don’t mean to say or even imply that “the rest of the world” should have a say in your elections.

        But we’re entitled to an opinion, too.

        And I’m not even saying it’s the right one. Of course, I happen to think it is, but that won’t stop me from talking to anyone who happens to think the opposite.

        I guess the only word that Howard hasn’t used in his post, and I’m pretty sure he holds it very important, is the almost-lost concept of respect. Something I think we can pretty much all wholeheartedly agree there’s not enough of in the world, right now.

        1. Respect is good. The unfortunate thing is that politicians appear to be constantly pushing the envelope as to how far they can go in the pursuit of self interest and self aggrandisement without actually getting unseated. Provided both sides are as bad as each other they can go quite a way under “B is an unrepentant serial liar who is in thrall to a megalomaniac from overseas, but H is a pretty dodgy beggar as well who was as much use as a chocolate fireguard and indeed skated on thin legal ice last time he had any genuine power, so I’ll go for B because H is worse. Oh and K is a nobody who’ll go to bed with B, H or X the unknown if he gets a sniff of power that way….!”

          Frankly I despair of the lot of ’em. BTW I’m a Brit. if you hadn’t guessed….so may the best man win and hopefully see the light …

  2. Wouldn’t it be nice…

    Wouldn’t it be nice if we could actually have a candidate on the ballot next Tuesday that people would be happy to vote for?

    I know who I’ll be voting for, but sadly it won’t be because I like that candidate but instead because I can’t stand his opponent.

    But maybe I’m just being unrealistic. After all no one who “the people” would actually like could actually survive the political process in the country long enough to make it onto the ballot.

    1. Re: Wouldn’t it be nice…

      Very well said.
      As for myself, I’m undecided still… I know who I will *NOT* vote for, but I haven’t decided whether to vote for his only serious opponent (whom I don’t particularly trust) or to vote for some third-party, won’t-get-any-electoral-votes-no-matter-how-many-popular-votes-he-gets candidate. I suppose it all depends on how certain the defeat of the candidate I oppose is in my state.

      In related news, I want to encourage everybody to write to their congress critters in overwhelming support of bill HR 5293. If passed, this bill will likely change the face of politics from negative mudslinging, to something a bit more positive. We will no longer be relegated to simply voting against the guy we don’t like, and the road will be opened to third (fourth, fifth, etc) party candidates.

      1. Re: Wouldn’t it be nice…

        Hmm… that link broke thanks to LJ… for some reason, they don’t include the final colon. If you click on the link, just manually type “:” at the end of the URL to read the details of the bill.

        1. Re: Wouldn’t it be nice…

          You can build the link manually: clicky. Syntax is pretty simple:

          <a href=”put URL here”>clicky</a>

          I usually add a modifier that opens a new window:

          <a href=”put URL here” target=”_blank”>clicky</a>

          but that’s just icing. Put a postit on your monitor with the basic syntax and you’re covered.

          Next week: How to nest special characters so you can show people how to show other people how to construct special characters like &amp;lt;


      2. Re: Wouldn’t it be nice…

        Instant runoff voting (the subject of that bill) has its own problems, as this Slashdot story points out. In particular, it fails the objective of having the result reflect people’s preferences correctly in many cases.

        More practically, it’ll never happen, because the practical result would be to open the door to third parties – precisely what the current parties don’t want.

        1. Re: Wouldn’t it be nice…

          Instant runoff voting does have its own share of problems, but those problems are incredibly minor compared to the problems of plurality voting and the electorate system (especially as currently implemented)…

          I for one support the IRV movement wholeheartedly. It would be an absolute dream come true if this bill passed into law…

          But you’re right, it won’t. Because the absolute highest priority that *ANY* of these politicians have is getting power and KEEPING POWER. It’s all about the power, man.

  3. unless they’re anarchic libertarians, in which case they figure you’ll meet those needs on your own ANYWAY, so who needs government?

    and also discordian libertarians, who pretty much want the same thing, just in a more discordian and less anarchic way.

  4. The policies of a governing body can have only an impersonal, artificial impact on the basic desires of real people. A $200 tax credit? That’s little more than a momentary thrill, and certainly won’t bail anybody out of a decent string of bad luck.

    I’m sorry, but that’s jut not true. If the government sponsors scholarships to send underprivileged kids to college, that’s an impact. If the government slashes school budgets, that’s an impact. If the government takes away our civil liberties and someone gets arrested and held without trial, that’s an impact. And if the government sponsors a war, the people being killed are real people whose life is being impacted a lot.


    1. I’ll agree with this; however, I think I’ll also agree with the poster’s original statement that a $200 tax credit is little more than a monetary thrill!

    2. policies

      Notice that Howard said government policies “have only an impersonal, artificial impact on the basic desires of real people” (emphasis mine). Those basic desires don’t change. Certainly those policies have an (often unintended) impact on folks’ lives.

      Whenever I despair of who gets elected, I just sigh and remember that the country (and world) goes on anyway, and I and millions of others will go on living our lives much as usual, adapting to the changes as we go. While our votes give us potentially great leverage (though it tends to be binary) on changing peoples’ lives, my own personal impact on the world will be greater because of what I do personally to/with/for another individual rather than who I vote for.


  5. You misunderstand me.

    All of the impacts you’ve described are impersonal. Yes, of course government can impact our lives. But our deepest, most basic needs are better met by volitional interaction with each other than with byproducts of legislation.

    Further, as individuals we can do things to negate the impact of legislational byproducts in the lives of others. When was the last time you personally helped put an underprivileged neighbor kid through school, or even spent time freely tutoring one? In that situation both you AND the child, and the child’s family are impacted positively, and in a way the government could never have legislated.


    1. I’m a basic liberatarian. That is, I believe that we have far too much government, and it meddles incessantly in what should be done for and by the individuals in question.

      That said, I’ll skip it.

      I put a lot of my time into helping people that don’t have money, or the opportunities that I have. (also money). A big chunk of the PC’s that come into my hands go right back out again (with me paying for repairing them) to people that can’t afford to purchase them.

      On the political scene? I’d rather see the laws eliminated that keep the minority parties off the ballots, rather than adding laws to change the elections around. (I’m not saying that instant runoffs are a bad idea, other than I don’t like any federal legislation that meddles with local efforts. And the voting equipment is used for ALL local elections far more than it is for federal)

      If you truly can’t stand either of the ‘main’ candidates – vote for one of the alternatives (Libertarian, for one), rather than not voting at all. Why? Because they may not win, they almost certainly won’t, but it sends two messages. One is “We’re sick of a two party non-choice system”, and the other is “I’m sick of this election, so I’m going to make a pointed statement about it” – if a group that normally gets less than 3% of an election all of a sudden gets 15%…. the big parties will pay attention.

      Probably won’t do much, but it’s a start.


      1. I agree about the 3rd parties:

        I’m from Vermont, and we have a registered 3rd party here – the Progressives. Recently they’ve been doing well. They have a few seats in the VT senate, and now have a candidate up for lieutenant governor. In the last election the progressive candidate for lt. governor received around 12 percent of the vote. Polls for this election are showing that he is getting closer to 15 or above. It does make a huge difference as the other two parties now have a very different dynamic as they see that a growing number of Vermonters think that they’re not addressing whats important to them.

        So it is possible to get 3rd party recognition and it does produce results.

  6. The policies of the sitting president have absolutely nothing to do with how you treat your neighbor.

    And how you treat your neighbor is much more important than the latter, and will have a bigger impact on your life, and his. We’re lucky to live in a country where that’s the case. Whoever wins this election.

    Thank you.

  7. “Mostly I’m concerned about the way this election is tearing people up inside.”

    God bless you, Howard. Here I thought I was the only one who cared about that, or who was getting depressed just watching the ill-will many of my fellow Americans have been displaying to those of our fellow Americans whose views on the presidential race differ significantly from theirs. Thank you.

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