Perspectives of grey: A tale of politics

Hello, and welcome to a new week my fellow Blahgovics…. A few weeks ago, before the recent elections, I was having a political discussion with a friend at work whom I respect and admire for his depth of knowledge and our mutual left leaning view of things. We by no means always agree… but these conversations tend to leave me feeling both better informed and ultimately leading to a better understanding of the world of politics and our place in it. In the midst of this particular chat, another coworker approached us and looking at me asked, “I always hear you talking politics, yet it’s always from one side of the spectrum. Do you ever look at things from the opposite side and give that any consideration?”. What a fantastic question!

I was delighted to answer, yet it became aware to me why I find it difficult to write about politics as I was stating my position.  Allow me to try to explain the answer I gave her….

Yes, I tend to be partisan. Yes, I look at the ideas being put forward by the other side. When I was in school many moons ago, I took a course title “political parties”. This was not a course in Democratic vs. Republican… it was a class in the nature of political parties throughout our history and the role the parties play. The main take away I got from this course was that the individual candidates matter little because it is the platform of the party which will determine policy more than any individual. Yes the president may lead his party in one direction or the other, but without the help of congress, his administration and/or the courts…his actual powers are limited by desisn. All matters of the government are meant to have this inherent system of checks and balances… it is meant to work slowly…. methodically.

That explains why I could be viewed as partisan, but it is not the whole picture. For some, politics is a matter of black or white…. for others it falls into the grey-scale somewhere. I find myself in that grey-scale far more often than I do otherwise. When I view the two major parties, I see one party virtually mocked for it’s desires to please everyone and do what’s going to be best for all (these are gross generalizations) and the other viewing things as more black and white. Perhaps from the other side of the spectrum my side looks like what I’m looking at…. intractable and ideologically rigid… I don’t know, I only know what my views are and how I see the other side so to speak. 

It is because of this grey area that I find it tough to write about my political views.  If I begin discussing a topic… say, economic policy or health care… one thing leads to another… things become tangential and in fear of making a difficult subject too rudimentary, you can go on and on, deeper and deeper into understanding of a position that the original topic gets obscured.  Basically, I find it hard to be concise when dealing with such a multi headed hydra as politics.  I’m reminded of a Simpsons episode where someone asks Reverend Lovejoy a religious question… his response:  “Long answer yes with an if, short answer no with a but”.

So why am I a member of the Democratic Party?  And why do I resist the Republican Party?  I’m going to break this down into two main headings… fiscal philosophy and social philosophy.

I can get behind the idea of fiscal conservatism.  The idea of trimming out the fat in government and being more responsible with our money as opposed to treating tax payer money coming into the federal government as if it were a Vegas style all you can eat buffet.  I can agree with that.  However, in my lifetime, I have seen Republicans grow the debt and the deficit by leaps and bounds.  Under Clinton we had a surplus (and I will give George H.W. Bush a great deal of credit for this).  One side (R) tends to scream about the abuses of social programs such as welfare.  If you were to look at the amount of money we as a nation spend on personal welfare vs. corporate welfare (that which the R happens to support over the other)…. it is staggering.  Personal welfare… welfare to help the poor in this country is minuscule compared to the hundreds of millions if not billions of dollars we as tax payers hand over to corporations who are making profits hand over fist.  Do they pay us back?  Hell no!  Instead, they send our jobs overseas, complain about any regulations and do everything they can to increase profit margin.  Now before you go screaming about how the free market system works and how I shouldn’t get in the way of capitalism… I will say that this is not only a perversion of the free market, but completely immoral when you have CEOs making over five hundred times the amount the average worker makes.  If you wish to scream about redistribution of wealth, you need to make sure you yourself aren’t supporting that redistribution in the upward direction.  I’m sorry, but supply side economics has failed… many times over.  And as to how the Republican Party has managed to convince the poor to vote against their own interests and in the interests of the very rich… it’s impressive.  And it speaks volumes as to how much more effective Republicans are as a party as opposed to Democrats.

So what about the Democratic Party’s economic policies?  Like the other side, I hate how much corporate money is involved…. I hate how in bed with the Wall Street buffoons that got us into such a mess we are.  Bringing Larry Summers back?  Really?  We make some extremely lame choices.  However, I would much rather be with the party at least making an attempt to help the underdog.  To at least try to be a voice for those that have no voice as opposed to helping those who not only have a voice but have lawyers, capital, lobbyists and the means to basically try to purchase this country.  I am not the best person for info on economic policy… I don’t know much about this subject other than what I read and try to inform myself about.  But kissing the asses of fat cats for the hope of securing a cushy lobbyist position down the road makes me ill.

Now that brings up one very important thing that has been driving me nuts… and certainly more so in the last two years.  Look… if you are in Congress, your job is as a legislator.  That means you are supposed to be making law… not trying to ensure the president has only one term, not saying no to everything (especially if it’s your own bill), not shutting down the government and not to play childish little games.  I always thought conservatives were meant to be the grown ups and us liberals were the kids who simply didn’t know better.  Now the conservatives are all acting like petulant little whiny babies who if they don’t get their way they pitch a fit and throw a tantrum until the grown ups have to (should not) acquiesce.  First we had to deal with the government shutdown in 94 thanks to Gingrich, then the investigation into the blow job and a cigar, then the impeachment… let’s not even talk about the massive hypocrisy of the entire blank check given to W. (if you love the constitution so much, why did you not blink an eye while the Bush administration wiped their collective asses with it?)… and now we have to deal every policy meeting with a filibuster… regardless of what it is. 

Which brings us to the social end of things.  Here is where I certainly could never, will never and I believe no one should ever subscribe to.  This is where things get ugly and where I begin to get a bit black and white.  I am a social liberal through and through.  I do not believe separate but equal can ever work…. that applies to all civil rights.  I don’t believe if you claim to be pro life you can have a pro capital punishment position… or kill doctor.  Makes you a uber-hypocrite.  I believe people are inherently good… not born with “original sin”.  I don’t believe religion belongs in politics at all.  I am an atheist, yet I challenge anyone to tell me any part of my life is immoral.  Frankly, I’d imagine my life more resembles a good Christian’s life more so than many Christians in this country (and yes, that is a challenge I will stand up to… try me).  Jesus spoke a lot about divorce, adultery and paying your taxes.  He said nothing about gay issues.  He said to take care of the poor and the infirmed.  I don’t recall anything about Jesus wanting you to be rich (that whole camel through the eye of a needle thing).  Don’t distort your own beliefs simply for convenience.  I don’t imagine Jesus would want anyone using his name to spread hatred…. and I don’t imagine he would approve of capital punishment… or guns… or lying about “death panels”.  It’s this perversion of religion that gives so many such a horrid name…. just as nineteen assholes who decided to kill in the name of their religion distorted and manipulated their religion, we run the risk of doing the same.

Unfortunately, the other main problem of trying to write about “politics” in general as opposed to a single issue, is that I need another view… another voice.  Someone to throw ideas off of.  Not just someone who agrees with my views, that becomes a philosophical circle jerk… but the opposite.  And in this forum it comes out as nothing but monologue… and I have a hard time with that.  Nothing I’ve posted here today is anything I would consider elegant or artful… quite the opposite.  But I needed to get some of this out.  I avoided most issues during the elections because frankly, I didn’t want to give some of the wack jobs the time of day… the Christine O’Donnells, the Sharron Angles, the Carl Paladinos…. I didn’t believe they would win, so why give their ramblings another forum.  I was proud of my state of California… we did well.  Other than that… I’m not too concerned about the Republicans winning the house… now they can’t just whine and block…. they have to work.  They have to legislate.  Let’s see if the games are over… or if they have just begun.

More score and many years ago,
Cornelius J. Blahg

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