Jason OMahony - Irish political blogger, Irish politics, EU politics
 

US Politics: America heads into another zero-sum election.

Posted by Jason O on Sep 2, 2011 in US Politics |

Oh say can you see, we are half the country!

Oh say can you see, we are half the country!

An American reader recently seemed a little upset at the idea that Europeans would even comment on US politics, which is understandable. He wasn’t a European and isn’t used to the idea of people in one country being interested in the politics of another, so if that person is upset by this, my apologies. Nevertheless, the coming 2012 US presidential election is shaping up to be a very interesting contest, but for the wrong reasons.

I love America. I like the people, I holiday there. But I’m not sure I would want to live in a country where Governor Perry, Governor Palin or Representative Bachmann actually attempted to do the things they talk about on the campaign. This is the thing about this election. No matter who wins, whether the GOP candidate or President Obama, half the country will feel almost like a cultural occupation has been imposed upon them by the other half.

At least, reading the US media, that is what you would think. Having said that though, you have to ask, does US politics actually represent where most Americans actually live politically. For example, what candidate do economically left wing social conservatives vote for? What about people who support low taxes and same sex marriage? Or people who oppose the death penalty but support the right to bear arms? It seems to me as an outsider that the two party system, hijacked by its extremes, is not serving the great mass of Americans, because there are more than two political ideas in America. I even suspect that, with the exception of President Clinton, there’s not one former US president going back to Nixon who could win his former party’s nomination now, based on their previous records: Nixon (too liberal), Ford (too liberal), Carter (too conservative), Reagan (too liberal) George H W Bush (too liberal). Yet all would be easily selected as candidates for a centrist (by today’s standards) Moderate party. Go figure.

4 Comments

Joe
Sep 2, 2011 at 6:36 pm

I’m not upset about it, I’m just trying to get people to put in some perspective their readiness to talk about American affairs as though it were their country, when their only stake in it is clearly nothing like that of those who are American.

I think “partisan politics”, which seems to irritate many has the virtue of being honest. The more partisan the better – otherwise no thrust in any direction, no mattter worth discussing or pursuing would EVER be presented. Vulgar as it may seem, it’s in every way preferable to a vaccuuous state of being where any party could be elected resulting in their voters having been unable to have any impact on the conduct of the state.

The candidate’s record is important, but the POTUS faces things that no-one else has to. POTUS needs to be trusted. POTUS-cred involves wierd stuf like “character”, a moral compass, and to have a nutsack in the face of geopoiltical risk.

The paradox you present of the economically left wing social conservative is precisely that of the late Pennsylvania Governor Bob Casey (Senior) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_P._Casey
He was a pro-union economic interventionist, but as a part of his ethical journey couldn’t countenance the ease with which one could get an abortion. To him, abortion was a willful termination of an innocent human life no different than murdering an adult.

For the sake of thinking like most of the population who are divided on what to do about it, he was run out of the party in virtually every meaningful way by people whose aggregate views represent about 2% of the population. The activist types who fist for any cause that can be peddled on a college campus.

The problem is not who will be disposessed and aggreived by not getting their candidate in – that life. The argument only emerges when the office is at risk of going to a conservative. You might also want to keep an eye out for the context in which calls for “civility in public discourse” are aired. It’s also done rather opportunistically.

It’s a function of passive-aggressiveness – one gets to pander for affection while trying to “score hate points”. It’s like that vile trent on the 90′s with the political types who would scream “Hate is not a family value!!!”


 
Joe
Sep 2, 2011 at 6:52 pm

Actually I’m WAY TOO used to the idea of Europeans thinking that they shared our vote. It’s likely a sign of America’s accessibility. The fevered-pitch of all of that came in late 2008, when it still wasn’t any of their business or their vote. I lived among those natives long enough to know that an argument about citizens excercising their sovereignty and the personal nature of the vote was just something you kind of say when you think its’ about your own society. Otherwise, peole entertained idiotic arguments abut how, because the US President can influence the direction of the world, that the world should be entitled to vote in the US.

Whatever. I’ve heard so many tortured rationalizations of that sort over the years, I don’t even find them humorous any more. Try pulling that schtick in Beijing, and see how long the population or regime will indulge your continued habit of breathing and pumping blood to your head.

What I don’t like is the sense of entitlement is seems to assume about the choices Americans are to make for themselves, by their own consciences, applicable to themselves. The shorthand for all of that is: worry about your own patch – or – sorry, but it just isn’t your country, or your president, or your vote, or your stake. It isn’t your risk being exercised, not your resources being expended and directed.

By that same measure, the pederasty of ex-boyfriends of potential Presidential candidates is none of my business – so take heart about those “ignorant and isolationist” Americans.


 
MD
Sep 7, 2011 at 1:14 pm

Actually, given the way that the Reagan seems to have been deified by the right in the US and the amount of references the GOP candidates make to him in speeches, debates and interviews, Reagan would probably take the nomination by acclamation. (That’s not to say his actual record accords with the mythical status afforded to him.)


 
Jason O
Sep 7, 2011 at 9:01 pm

Ah, but they’re talking about Reagan the icon as opposed to Reagan the man. Reagan as governor signed a bill permitting abortion. Think that would not be used against him now?


 

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