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Archive for July, 2016

…and still doing dirty tricks to divide progressives and divorce them from their political power, how would it look different from the DNC e-mail hack?

Just asking.

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I feel like I’ve been hearing this question my entire adult life. I think the person who asks it, honestly or not, tends to miss a few things about life and politics.

So let me float another idea just for fun: third party presidential candidacies are amoral. They presume one candidate who embodies a minority position should be chosen to rule over the majority; they do not represent the fullest democratic expression of majority will but dilute it; they ensure that you, the individual, are less responsible for assimilating and subjugating your own reality to those of the hundreds of millions of people who are not like you; they require, in the other countries that do use them, that complicated coalitions be formed so that a person’s political desires are even further abstracted from them.

I argue that there is only one honest third-party approach: the grassroots way, the local elections way. The reason third-party fans avoid this more effective approach is that it asks a lot of responsibility of them. It’s easier to root for the “rock star” far away in a white house.

I’d also argue that third parties in this country have never been suppressed but have mostly died of their own fragility. They are too often based on personality cults or single issues that become less relevant over time. Think of the futility of an anti-Vietnam War party today or a pro-gold standard party. Organized political machines might … just might … know how rugged or fragile these tendencies are and know to abort them once they become irrelevant to daily life. With respect to Bernie Sanders, who has rightly inspired so many people, his movement is a one-issue movement and there’s a reason it has less traction: People care about things other than continually punishing banks (however right or wrong that might be) when we already kind of did that.

What I most dislike about the third party question is that it tends to misunderstand American history. Our founders hoped that the anarchic moods of the public would find their best expression in the Congress. The president as originally envisioned was supposed to act more like a glorified city manager, a bureaucrat doing the executive work while those in Congress inveighed and caviled and spat at each other. People like Teddy Roosevelt gradually turned the job into the personality cult we see today. That was good in a lot of ways, but it’s led to frustration among people who now have pretty ridiculous expectations.

Asking that one person be pulled every which way and stretched like Silly Putty to reflect the desires of millions of people is silly and futile. Being part of a democracy should exact a toll from you: You have responsibilities and one of those is to compromise or if not, to join the game. And you won’t be appreciated if you do. Ask anybody.

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It should be illuminating that we fulminate about Hillary Clinton, “She’s imperfect!” and ask meekly about Donald Trump “How bad could he really be?” The answer for this hypocrisy is so obvious you might not see it for a piece of napkin lodged on your nose. It’s because he’s a man. He’s a tough dad saying the harsh truths, while she’s a disloyal ice queen who, were she to fire somebody or cross them, would be treated like Madame Defarge. We distrust ambition and political skill in a female because we don’t understand the motives, while we don’t think twice about these qualities in a male, don’t think twice about empowering a guy whose signature is regular abuse of people on a TV show (who has extended that abuse to people in real life). An obnoxious and pervasive literary trope of America–that distant, mean and pugnacious dads are that way only for our own good–is so ingrained in the crap we read and watch that we decline to ask whether dad is acting in his own self-interest. We give the female no such courtesy. It comes to the point of satirically perverse abnegation when we ignore the CV of a man who has worked only for his own self-interest, has never shed an ounce of sweat in his life until now fighting for any conservative principle other than his own right to succeed. A man with nothing but conviction of self and belief in his right to wield authority without specific ideas is now parroted by hapless conservatives who insisted for eight years that his type of personality cult is exactly what they were fighting against. Thus you are witnessing a whole party being taken hostage. Meanwhile, lefties, whose distrust of ambitious females is similarly ingrained, though they would dare not admit it, pretend they are better by turning to people who are unvetted and therefore idealized. If you make cartoon saints out of Jill Stein or Elizabeth Warren by not realizing that they would also have become dirty and have had to make compromises if they had actually been playing the game this whole time, you are quietly telling Hillary Clinton (and all girls): “You have no right to play the game.”

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“Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.” –Melania Trump

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