Self-deprecation is worth its weight in smoldering phoenix-ashes and baby unicorn tears.

I've been pondering the modern, twenty-first century version of politics for months now. (That's, of course, what happens when primaries and general elections are interminably long and arduous.) I've thought a lot about the ads, the debate tactics, the way that the system is set up, and various and sundry other concepts. Of course, it doesn't help that I've been on a hefty reading diet of politically charged books, papers, and blogs, but what can I say? I'm a politics junkie.

However, I'm becoming increasingly disaffected with the whole politics situation in this country. Perhaps it was the length of the primaries (which felt as though they would NEVER EVER END) or the vitriol that we hear daily from the general election, but I'm just getting tired of all the major candidates from both parties.

And it's not entirely their fault. (Well, it's mostly their fault, but I digress.) The blame lays on many different and disparate groups. It's the two-party system's fault for stifling dissent or third-party candidates. It's the media's fault for focusing on the mechanics of elections rather than the substance. But most of all it's our fault, for gobbling up the gunk they feed us and smiling like idiot children.

I think it's telling how both major presidential candidates have completely turned their back on everything they once stood for, spouting talking points and rhetoric that's ultimately empty and vapid, or as Shakespeare put it in Macbeth, 'Full of sound and fury, signifying nothing'. Frankly, it's become even more of what Ralph Nader described in his book Crashing the Party: Taking on the Corporate Government in an Age of Surrender - I think this assessment of the current political situation is especially adroit.

Throughout the campaign, the media obsessed over the tactics of the candidates and other horse-race aspects such as the polls, endorsements, stumbles, momentum, staff turnover, and the like. This has become a professional addiction and a contagious one at that, providing mind-numbing renditions.

The saddest thing is that these politicians didn't always used to be that way - or, at the very least, they used to pretend to be different. I mean, listen to this quote from John McCain back in the 2000 election:

We have squandered the public trust. We have placed our personal and partisan interest before the national interest, earning the public's contempt for our poll-driven policies, our phony posturing, the lies we call spin, and the damage control we substitute for progress. And we defend the campaign finance system that is nothing less than an elaborate influence-peddling scheme in which both parties conspire to stay in office by selling the country to the highest bidder.

It's a shame that a person who sounded so principled could, eight years later, be one of the worst offenders of the very things he decries in that statement. Regardless of party, everything in national politics has become a story of power brokers, who get what they want regardless of the way it steamrolls over the normal citizen.

Consequently, my distaste for the big players of national politics has made me think a lot about the Concord Principles - some essentials for national elections that have been soundly ignored since Ralph Nader proposed them from Dartmouth in New Hampshire. (These Principles can be read here.) The things that most surely stand out to me are these:

A growing and grave imbalance between the often converging power of Big Business, Big Government and the citizens of this country has seriously damaged our democracy and weakened our ability to correct this imbalance. We lack the mechanisms of civic power. We need a modern tool box for redeeming our democracy by strengthening our capacity for self- government and self-reliance both as individuals and as a community of citizens. Our 18th century democratic rights need retooling for the proper exercise of our responsibilities as citizens in the 21st century.

Big Business and Big Government are pretty much best buddies at this point; I'm ashamed that it's become that way. But what are we going to do to try and change our politics to improve the situation in the national setting? Mr. Nader gives us some concise and meaningful changes that I believe should be implemented, even though they never will:

  • a binding none-of-the-above option on the ballot;
  • term limitations, 12 years and out;
  • public financing of campaigns through well-promoted voluntary taxpayer checkoffs on tax returns;
  • easier voter registration and ballot access rules;
  • state-level binding initiative, referendum, and recall authority, a non-binding national referendum procedure; and
  • a repeal of the runaway White House/Congressional Pay Raises back to 1988 levels -- a necessary dose of humility to the politicians.

Genius. Will it happen? No. Can I wish it would?

Heavens yes.

Things are broken, and with the two big parties, things are going to stay broken - unless we stand up and make it change. We have to, in the words of a great man, stand where we are - and lift.


Comments
on Oct 08, 2008

on Oct 08, 2008

And this is why Nader will be receiving my vote on Nov. 4th and every challenger to an incumbent will also be getting my vote.  Until we kick out the old career politicians nothing will ever change.

on Oct 09, 2008

And this is why Nader will be receiving my vote on Nov. 4th

..but Nader is an old career politician too, just not so successful.

on Oct 09, 2008

Nader is an old career politician too

NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO.  Nader has never held elected office - consequently, your assertion that he's a 'career politician' is patently false.  You could say he is a 'career citizen activist', perhaps.  But NOT a career politician.

on Oct 09, 2008

..but Nader is an old career politician too, just not so successful.

Last time I checked Nader has never actually held public office, nor is he responsible for the craptastic mess that this country is in today.  I would prefer to vote for Bob Barr but unfortunately he didn't get enough signatures to make it onto the ballot in my state because the election rules are rigged to favor the two major parties.

on Oct 09, 2008

Nader has never held elected office

OK a technicality prehaps, but to me someone that is promoting a political agenda, elected or not, is a politician. He's been promoting a long time.

politician - 1. somebody who actively or professionally engages in politics. 2. a member of a branch of government 3. U.S. somebody whose main political motive is self-advancement and whose methods are often unscrupulous (disapproving). ref Encarta North American Dictionary

But if you suggest that I can run for office, raise campaign funds, buy votes, and make back door deals but I'm not a politician unless I get elected, hey that's your definition. Personally, if your in the system and your trying to actively influence the government and change peoples minds, that is a politician.

Nader's ideas are not fresh and new, he's been proposing them for years, he's just been unsuccessful with his campaigns. I'm not putting your choice down, just stating the obvious, why is this man's message not so popular with the majority of voters? the answer is they don't have wide appeal, at least not enough. i say good luck to him and anyone that shares his beliefs, but if you vote for him just because you don't like the other choices, well that's just as bad as the hardcore D & R's that only vote down party lines. Might as well write in your vote, I hear Micky Mouse does quite well every election year.

on Oct 09, 2008

why is this man's message not so popular with the majority of voters?

Quite simple, the media tends to ignore him therefore very few people actually hear his message.  The same goes for just about any third party candidate.  The system is rigged for the Dems and Repubs to maintain their strangglehold on our country.

but if you vote for him just because you don't like the other choices, well that's just as bad as the hardcore D & R's that only vote down party lines.

I beg to differ.  If I don't like the two major parties the only choice that I have is to seek out a third party candidate.  Now I'm not voting for Nader simply because he isn't a D or R, I'm voting for him because I agree with some of his policies and because he is neither a D or R.

on Oct 09, 2008

San Cho, I love ya man.  But do you not see the hypocrisy of preaching change to fix something, and leaving here because you don't like the douche bags?

 

Your writing is great.  If you go, you make the place worse, not better.

 

Think on it.

on Oct 09, 2008

If you go, you make the place worse, not better.



Think on it.

I have.

I think I will continue to cross-post.  Thanks for the encouragement, Ock.

on Oct 10, 2008

To answer your Title question: Everything.

on Oct 10, 2008

I'm voting for him because I agree with some of his policies and because he is neither a D or R.

Then that's cool. But it has to be about issues or it's meaningless IMO, and that's my point.

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