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[Politics] Political Musings

I had a long political talk with a friend tonight (among talking about other topics), and I came to a few conclusions.

All administrations make mistakes. The Clinton administration was hardly perfect, nor was the first Bush administration before it, nor was the Reagan administration before it.

Now, granted, I have reasons to dislike this administration. I'm not fond of their policies. They've demonstrably lied to the populace on many occasions. I know that they wanted to go into Iraq to set up a demonstrative democracy in the area in hopes of urging other countries into following suit. I can even see the reasoning... but instead of stating that, they chose to lie to the US and claim Iraq was involved with the terrorists and that there were Weapons of Mass Destruction. And when they were caught out on that one, they pointed fingers and lied again about 'bad intelligence,' until the memos came out.

Similarly, while the state and local governments dropped the ball... they declared a state of emergency. The whole POINT of a state of emergency is 'we cannot cope with this with local resources, we need the federal government.' And the federal government dropped the ball too, badly, and tried to turn it into a political photo-op until they could figure out what to do.

But why I'm upset about this is that the present administration spent YEARS telling us only they can protect us, and that state and local law-enforcements and infrastructure needed to yield authority -- and we had to give up privacy rights -- to empower Homeland Security to defend us. In fact, Homeland Security was supposed to address /precisely/ this sort of communications breakdown, provide a single point of authority and organization in case of a 'crisis of national significance,' be it terrorist or natural disaster. And not only did it not... but then the government kept pointing fingers, trying to shift blame. Bush did finally accept responsibility (for which I say 'about time'), but still.

Now, in fairness, I don't know that a democratic administration would have done better. I'm idealistic in many ways, but even I don't think either party is perfect. I like to think a democratic administration might have handled it better, but I have no real assurance of that.

But this administration is the first one where I've been old enough (and therefore politically active enough) to feel /responsible/, as a voting citizen, for their actions. So every thing they do wrong, I feel -- as a member of the voting public -- /I/ bear some of the responsibility for. Which is something I never felt about the last administration. And, at least in my view, this administration is doing a great many things wrong.

When it comes down to it, while a politician's platform means a lot to me -- sure, I prefer someone who'll put health care, education and environmental concerns ahead of military spending -- what I really want as the head of our nation is someone who I believe has the strength of character to accept the blame when something goes wrong. Someone who has the foresight to be a /leader/... not just to follow their platform blindly, but to listen to advisors and experts, and then have the strength to make the right decision for the people they've been elected to lead.

I'm not certain how many politicians these days do have that. No one in the present administration. I don't, in truth, really think Kerry had it either; the main strength of his platform was "I'm not Bush."

In the end, I suppose what I want is a leader I can believe in. And when we have one that I can't believe in, or have faith in... I suppose as a member of the voting public I feel that in some way, I've failed as well.


Well, since resigning isn't an option (nor would it be a good idea; we need all the smart citizens we can get), my suggestion would be to become part of the solution rather than being part of the problem. Get involved. If we start now, and get a generation of people standing up for what we believe in, we can do quite a bit of good come this time next year when folks are getting ready to cast ballots.
Hey Rachel, it's been a while since I've chatted with you online. Probably close to five years. I saw your post in [Unknown LJ tag] today, and thought, "seattlesparks...I wonder if that's Rachel?" And sure enough, it was, so I decided to check out the journal, and I'm going to add you to friends, if you don't mind.

I have to agree with you here. I'm probably about as far left as a person can get, politically. Yet, for all of the screw ups that Bush has made, whenever I hear someone say, "we wouldn't be going through this if Gore/Kerry were president," I am left wondering how they can say that for sure.

Certainly funding priorities may be different, and that may have mitigated things. However, I don't think that if we'd signed the Kyoto Protocols in 2001 that the surface temperatures in the Gulf would be significantly different from what they have been this summer. They are the result of longer-term issues than any immediate actions in accordance with Kyoto would have stopped. Oil is a finite resources, and Chinese demand for it is growing. As a result, oil prices would still be going up, as would gasoline prices. To believe that any of these things would have been stopped by having a Democrat in the White House is being incredibly simplistic in one's thinking.

And as for your comment about having the strength to back down from your platform and do what your advisors suggest is best, Clinton had that in spades. But I don't always think it was right, either. Backing away from health care sooner probably would have been better, and that nearly damaged his presidency beyond recovery. Likewise with backing away from allowing openly gay people to serve in the military; and when he backed down, he was forced into "don't ask, don't tell", which some consider to be worse than what was in force before. On the other hand, he was too eager to accept welfare reform that has really made the problem worse by forcing people into jobs that don't provide medical coverage (there's that healthcare issue again) while taking their Medicaid away, leading to working poor having to have their ER visits written off, which leads to higher costs for everyone to make up the difference. And I could go on for days about the idiotic Defense of Marriage Act, though he was between a rock and a hard place on that, since it was passed just before the 1996 elections, and it would have been used as an issue against him if he didn't sign it.

No, no party is perfect. This is why I try and persuade people to research issues that are important to them, to research all of the candidates (not just the Democrat and the Republican) and to vote their conscious. Even third-parties have their problems, but they have a greater degree of independence at this point, since they don't have big-money corporate donors to please. And if I were to find a Republican with palatable stances, I would vote for them, in spite of the party label. And from reading this post, it seems that you take your vote as seriously as I take mine. It's encouraging to see that from someone who is younger, because all too often I see apathy instead.
As a Right Wing Evil Overlord Wannabe, it's heartwarming to see posts such as these - not heartwarming to see Sparks morose, mind you, but heartwarming to hear reasonable people of the other side of the aisle - or either side of the aisle, for that matter. I have as little respect for the dogmatic right as I do for the dogmatic left. Anyone who votes the party line will eventually be voting against their own best interests.

No matter who is in the oval office, our government is going to let us down on occasion. Even the best administrations will drop the ball, if only by virtue of the very size and complexity of the undertaking they're involved in and the lack of control over events and people at its periphery - or even down the hall, in some cases.

Demonizing opposition leaders is one re-emergent facet of American political life that I truly detest. It was popular during the time of our Founding Fathers to drag an opponent's name through the dirt, attack his family, his religion, the shape of his head. Any target of opportunity would do. It's always been a part of how our politics work, but there have been times when it was less virulent. I hope we're going into another of those periods. Incivility and jingoism just fry me, regardless of who the target is.

I agreed with practically none of Clinton's policies, but I respected the fact that he was attempting to address important issues even if I didn't like the approach he took. It is possible to agree on a goal and not the route to reach it, after all. The right wing pundits who tried to reduce a man that I believe truly was trying to do what he thought best to an idiotic charicature of Southern ignorance were every bit as loathsome as, well, the left wing pundits that are trying to do the same thing today to another president.

Young people like you (I don't mean this in a patronizing way, I just happen to be as old as some major religions) who see past the posturing and say "vote your conscience" make me hopeful for our future. I may not like where your conscience would lead us, but I love the fact that you listen to it rather than some idiot entertainer, comedian, or professional political hate-monger.