Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Finally, it's over!

So, by the time this gets posted, the election is over (hopefully) and someone has won. Since I am actually writing this Monday prior to the start of voting, I will assume that someone is actually winning. And, I, for one, am very, very glad the whole election season is over. I, unfortunately, live in a “contested” area so I have been bombarded with robo-calls, TV ads, and junk mail.

If I look back at the past year, the thing that surprised me about this election is how vitriolic it was. Don’t get me wrong, politics is always a touchy subject but it seems to have gotten worse in the last three elections.

Here are some random thoughts since it would take far too long to condense this into a really clean commentary...

(1) Part of the problem lies with the Democrats and the Republicans. Sadly, I don’t believe either party is looking out for the best interests of America anymore. I believe they are just trying to get into power and stay there. And, I believe they are driving wedges between people more and more to fracture the population and win votes.

(2) It disturbs me that open discussion about political beliefs often degenerates into name calling. It disturbs me that people call each other unpatriotic just for having a different opinion. Since when is that the American way? Just because I don’t agree with you, you don’t have the right to question my patriotism.

(3) I think part of the reason political discussion has died is because people only listen to others who reinforce their own view point. Republicans only listen to Neil Boortz and Sean Hannity who certainly don’t provide anything close to fair and balanced. At the same time, I don’t believe that CNN is always neutral either. Personally, I read CNN and listen to the radio talking heads so that I can attempt to get the entire picture.

(4) For some unknown reason, it’s now bad to be in the middle. Whatever happened to the moderate? For some reason people have forgotten that the middle is where most of live. In business they call it the “win-win” situation, but in politics they only call it losing.

(5) I think the advent of the internet has been the usual blessing and curse for politics. It’s wonderful because candidates can get their message out to more people, more easily. It’s wonderful because there are fact checkers that can quickly point out when a candidate is lying. But, it also allows all the web trolls to post whatever lies they want to. It’s hard enough to discern fact from fiction when it comes to politics as it is without adding people who purposefully spread lies.

(6) Finally, it bothers me that lots of people appear to vote on single issues. I met way, way too many people who voted purely on where the candidate stood on abortion. I understand that it’s a hot topic but there are sooooo many other issues that are far more important. It might help if people voted on where the candidate stood on multiple issues like taxes, the war, and even health care.

This hasn't been one of my most coherent postings and it kinda degenerated into a bunch of talking points. But, it seems that this election was so nasty that I wonder how people will get over all the name calling that occurred. Maybe it’s always been this crazy, but I don’t seem to think so.


  1. Nasty politics is a part of our tradition. Try the election of 1796, the first one contested. Adams and Jefferson tossing bombs, via their supporers, at one another. The redux in 1800 was no better. It's a product of the ownership Americans feel toward their government. We take it all very personally and go whole hog at trying to have our way with it. To some degree, the passion for it that's reflected in the whole mess is a good thing. Its the excess that's the problem.

    As to the two major parties, we've had cries for more choice for a couple centuries now, but by and large we've been a two party country. It may seem that the two parties are just scrabbling for power, but they do have real philosophical differences, which is why they each fight as hard as they do to prevail.

    I don't really get the single issue voters, either. Abortion is the leading candidate in that realm, and mostly on the pro-life side, it seems. It may be that a lot of those voters aren't really interested in politics all that much, but if you tell them there's a crusade to prevent babies from being killed, they're all on board for that. Sort of like the surge of new voters this time who may have been out just for the historical moment rather than the policies that Obama advocated. People vote or don't for a lot of different reasons. Some of them are superficial and silly, but there's no requirement in the Constitution that you have a well reasoned explanation for why you're voting.

    It does sometimes make me wish we had real poll testing. Not the sort of thing that was used just to keep blacks from voting. A real test to keep anyone without a modicum of awareness of how the government works and the issues of the day from voting. Not going to happen, of course, and practically impossible to administer, but a nice idea.

  2. Abortion is wrong pure and simple. It's the moral blight of this generation, just like slavery was once upon a time. It's certainly more of a moral issue than "health care". I certainly was against President-Elect Obama for more than just this issue, but it was a big one. Why should I have to compromise my beliefs and ignore this issue? You want to take abortion out of national politics, then overturn Roe v. Wade and get the States to decided what they want to do with it.

    I have three suggestions for our new President-Elect that will help put some truth to his claim that he'll "be [my] President too" and I don't think it will really compromise any of his plans (like raising taxes).

    1. If you're pro-choice, but anti-abortion as he claims, then make it mandatory or at least make it available that every woman or girl who seeks to have an abortion gets to see her baby on an ultrasound machine first. Let them see the heart beating, the thumb sucking, the little features. They say 90% of women will not go through with an abortion if they see their child. Abortion proponents claim this is unfair coercion. I think it's giving the women an INFORMED CHOICE. Why would it be bad for them to decide not to have an abortion? It also might be good to let them in on some of the emotional scars they may have after having one.

    2. I've been listening to a lot of talking heads myself lately and while they are often over the top, they do also come up with information that you don't hear anywhere else (like a 2001 interview with Obama on how he feels about the Constitution). One of the big issues they've been "warning" people about is a reinstatement of the Fairness Doctrine. The purpose they claim is to silence talk radio. President-Elect Obama could simply state that they will not reinstate the Fairness Doctrine (or any similarly thing). And by state, I mean he could say, "We're not going to do it. Period.". He's got the political clout to do just about anything right now. Why stifle people's freedom of speech? If you don't agree with it or don't like it, don't listen to it.

    3. Seek to seriously eliminate voter fraud or intimidation. That shouldn't happen period. Let everyone who is eligible vote. I'm sure both parties have been guilty of these tactics in the past, but it has to stop.

    So, that's my proposal for President-Elect Obama. Three things he could do that would show he's looking out for more than just his party. They all seem like common sense things to me. Can we at least agree on that?!

  3. Here's the problem with #1. Why should a person be subject to emotional blackmail before exercising a right to control their own body? The writer assumes a fetus is a child. That was never recognized in the legal realm, even before Roe. Hell, it's not even a biblical position. If a fetus was the equivalent of a child, why no funerals for miscarriages? Abortion was viewed as an ill not because of the intrinsic value of the fetus but because procreation was viewed as a species necessity. Anything that interfered with that was a bad thing. It's not information he wants, it's intimidation. And the abortion sought early in a pregnancy isn't going to show ought but a blob most times anyway.

    Numero Dos. The Fairness Doctrine. What a joke. If you want to be rid if it, then declare that the feds don't own the airwaves. That's the only reason there ever was a Fairness Doctrine. Otherwise, the First Amendment would have eliminated it. So, if the airwaves are to be owned privately, then get ready for the nudity, violence and language to soar. You can't advocate the abolition of the Fairness Doctrine without advocating the demise of the FCC altogether. They're based on the same proposition.

    Not much to say about the last. Voter fraud generally being a bugaboo of the GOP, I don't think Obama would have much to say on that. Voter suppression is more the Democrats' concern.

  4. Thomm,

    I hope you don't take offense for me addressing you personally, but it's been my experience that engaging people directly who don't agree with you often helps erode the perceived stereotypes we may have in our minds about the "other side". We're all people with families, joys, tragedies, stresses, etc. Humanizing the issues may not change our positions, but it helps keep the debate civil.

    I don't have a lot of free time to continue this thread indefinitely, but I do feel the need to address some of your responses to my comments. For one thing it helps illustrate the vastly different views we have and it's a healthy reminder that there are plenty of people out there that don't agree with you or me for that matter.

    First, I want to address "emotional blackmail". If an early ultrasound is only going to show a "blob", then where is the blackmail. I've seen enough 6 to 8 week sonograms to know you can at least see the heart beating. If that is just insignificant tissue then why would women be upset by seeing it or change their mind? If people are telling them it's just tissue and they are never permitted to see for themselves what is growing inside them, then their "choice" is based on incomplete information. Maybe my idea of mandatory ultrasounds is what was so objectionable. For talking purposes, let's say that they have the opportunity to see if they want to. (Personally, I'd like to add a 24-hour waiting period too). While I may wish to see abortion banned, my whole suggestion was that if that can't be done at this time, what could be another way to reduce the number of abortions. And if abortions are going to be reduced or eliminated, you still have to give help and support to the mothers, you don't just leave them on their own. There are numerous Crisis Pregnancy Centers around the country the help in just this way.

    Next, the idea of "the right to control their own body". That's the whole point, the baby growing inside them isn't their own body, it's new life and abortion destroys that life.

    Yes, a "fetus is a child". "Not a [B]iblical position" you say? Maybe you should reread your Bible (if you don't own one, I'd be happy to get one for you). "As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy." Luke 1:44 [When Mary visited Elizabeth who was pregnant with John the Baptist]. You could also look up Psalm 139:13-14 and Jeremiah 1:4-5. "No funerals for miscarriages". True, there aren't generally funerals for miscarriages, but there are services for stillborns. Forgive me if I'm being presumptuous, but I wouldn't think you could make a comment like that if you'd ever experienced a miscarriage. My wife and I can tell you it's a real loss. "It's not information he wants, it's intimidation". False. Now, that's presumptuous. My sister had an abortion when she was 16. For years we justified it in our minds that it was the best thing to do. When she was 24 she got pregnant again and this time she decided to keep her baby and raise him. A crisis pregnancy center helped her and even paid for her medical bills. She had the loving support of my mother in both circumstances. Her son is now 19. She's given testimony on her experience several times and she'll be the first to tell you that abortion is wrong.

    I'm certainly not a scholar on the Fairness Doctrine. So, I looked up a few things before responding. Apparently, President-Elect Obama does not support the Fairness Doctrine (However, he may support something that would still curtail conservative talk radio), although Pelosi certainly does. If some in the Democratic party wish to use the Fairness Doctrine to eliminate or reduce the counter-view presented by talk radio, then that seems like censorship to me. What's wrong with having an opposing viewpoint in a free society?

    Whether it's voter fraud or voter intimidation, neither should occur. I just think we should at least have picture ID's to vote. I made a point to show my drivers license to the election judge and he threw up his hands "Legally, we can't ask for that". Like, he was going to get arrested for me showing it to him. It's ridiculous. What's the harm in tightening things up a bit? I also don't approve of any party using their position of power to maintain their power (like redistricting areas, so you can make it more difficult for the other party to get elected. They've done that in Maryland before).

    "People are people
    So why should it be
    You and I should get along so awfully" -- Depeche Mode

  5. Ok, speaking as someone who can actually get pregnant I have to say that I am pro choice as I don't think the GOVERNMENT should have any say in this issue. Especially considering that religious and political matters should be kept as separate as possible (seeing how not everyone in this country shares religious beliefs).

    Also, Matthew, your whole idea with the ultrasound is impractical at best seeing how many women who get abortions do so before any heartbeat can bee seen with an ultrasound.

    Lee - I too have been living in a contested state and the propaganda bombardment has driven me crazy as well!

  6. Well, this post didn't go anywhere I thought it would... I find it interesting that everyone is a "pro" in the abortion arguement with there being no "cons".