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Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Would the real Democratic Party please stand up?

"As Congress prepares for a crucial vote on President Obama's budget this Thursday, Republican leaders have been plotting an all-out effort to block it without offering a single specific idea of their own. But we can't allow them to obstruct progress with hollow rhetoric.

Watch this video and donate $5 or more to help us air an ad exposing the GOP's petty politics before Thursday's important vote:"

I did some work for the Obama campaign during the last election and, as a consequence, I am treated to lovely personalized spam in my Inbox from the Democratic National Committee, a group which seems to be suffering from the delusion that the last election was a vote for the Democratic party, which it most emphatically was not. In general, I ignore it (the irony pains me and the begging annoys me), shuffle it into my spam folder or read through it for a good laugh... but today the email caught me in a particularly philosophical mood, and so it made me think.

There is a peculiarity of our government that really does not make any sense. We vote for individuals, who build administrations, which either control, or are controlled by (depending on the potency of the individuals involved) a political party. Effectively we have two of these parties, ignoring the various fringe groups that muddy up the works either strategically (to draw attention to specific issues) or egotistically (Nader). These parties are the Democrats and the Republicans, and they have taken for their respective symbols a loud, stubborn, relatively inexpensive pack animal (you get what you pay for) and a fat, plodding machine that scares every other form of life away from the water hole and turns perfectly good plant matter into poop and Ivory, in order of quantity.

Setting aside the obvious parallels between their symbols and their general party lines, it is generally agreed that both parties are mostly useless, most of the time. Their hands tend to be tied by bureaucratic nonsense and their ability to change the status quo is as limited as their understanding of the forces that drive our universe. This is, of course, why the American system is so stable. For the most part you're guaranteed that things will work pretty much the way they worked last year, because the amount of red tape, ass-kissing and bribery involved in getting that semicolon in paragraph 457 changed to a dash is so monumental that you generally have about five years to prepare for whatever difference that will make in your life.

Generally, it won't make much.

This is fortunate, because when that semicolon is changed to a dash, it is generally presumed that anyone to whom that paragraph pertains will go to their local library, look up a copy of the paragraph in question that is less than 5 weeks old, double-check to make sure the semicolon has not, yet, been changed to a dash, and act accordingly when implementing whatever action (or inaction) the paragraph pertains to. This, of course, does not happen.

In reality, people generally ignore the entire body of the law, assuming that if a law exists that will screw them, the amount of time involved in toeing the line, combined with the effort invested in toeing the line, exceeds the value returned for the investment. Furthermore, it is generally impossible to accomplish anything legally, because American law is precedent-based and consequently contradicts itself rather prolifically. Laws vary state by state, even on big, obvious matters like murder, rape, arson and felony theft.

For the most part, people find that if they ignore the law, the law does them the kindness of ignoring them back, and while periodically you'll run into the bad neighbor who tickets your friends for violating the "resident parking only" areas, or calls the cops because your cocktail party has gotten too rowdy, you can pretty much safely assume that you won't be jailed for a bar-fight and your average ticket-price for ignoring all parking meters will not exceed the total price you would have paid into the meters you ignored.

All of which is a roundabout way of saying that government in America is good government precisely because it is so messy, so thick and so convoluted that you basically have to rob a bank to get a monkey on your back. The inefficiency of our government protects us, and prevents people from doing stupid things when the opportunity presents itself (Though Texas may soon prove me wrong on that count). In fairness I should note that recently, someone did rob a bank in St. Louis and so far, no monkeys have been seen riding him around.

When we vote for an individual for the role of president, however, we are effectively voting for someone to fill the only job perceived as one capable of "getting something done," and we must consider a few different matters... matters which weighed heavily in my decision to work for, and vote for, Obama.

1. Is this person capable of forming complete sentences?
-This is more important than people give it credit for. If your president is an idiot, it is generally presumed that your entire nation is an idiot, and diplomacy proceeds accordingly.
2. Does this person surround himself with people smarter than he is, or dumber?
-This is the most important thing to consider. A president is only as good as his administration, and he must demonstrate the ability to surround himself with independent thinkers. His administration should be the best of the best, whether the best agrees with him or not.
3. Does this person control his party, or does his party control him?

It is the subject of number 3 that I would like to dwell on. The chief reason I voted for Obama was that I noticed that he took control of his political party and caused it to act in a more intelligent way than it otherwise might have. However, the party was only incidental in that equation. It was a tool by which I established the quality of the man and his likely effect upon our government as a whole. The Democratic party (like the Republican party) is not an entity in which I would willingly place my trust.

The email spam is becoming bothersome.

The tone of these emails during the election was to be expected. The propaganda, the annoying turns of phrase and the anger-inducing injections of my name into every godforsaken motherfucking sentence (I can see the board meeting now... "Hey guys, I just discovered scripting! Let's beat the idea to death and then turn the remains into glue!"). I understood the rhetoric and the need for it. It was all part of the game.

The game is over. We won the game. All this rhetorical shit about our opponents' rhetoric is needless, counterproductive, and aggravating. I understand that the Democratic party wishes to milk their boy's good name for every dollar they can before his honeymoon is over (not that he got much of one of those), but I would greatly appreciate it if they could prioritize just enough to understand that there are larger issues to take care of right now, issues that can only be solved as a nation, not as a bunch of bickering idiots with delusions of grandeur who've come to believe their own propaganda.

So let me make this simple (albeit it may be too late for that). The Republicans (or Democrats, respectively) are not your enemy. Everyone wants the economic crisis to end and while the guy you're arguing with might not be right his heart is probably in the right place, so maybe you should try explaining why he's wrong instead of punching him in the nose and calling his arguments "rhetoric." If you can't explain to him why he's wrong, then either he's right or you shouldn't be the one arguing with him anyway, and should find him someone to argue against who is better informed.

We've had quite enough of this shit from both sides of the isle, thank you very much. I don't think the "change" we were looking for was a change of color from red to blue.

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