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Saturday, August 11, 2012

I Fell Off The Wagon

When I started this blog I was on a "News Fast" (Initial News Fast Post Here...) from politics, political news, and the day to day political horse race. I crowed about my farewell to The New York Times. I was going to be above it all....

But I've fallen off the wagon.

First, I started with my "high minded thoughts on politics " blogs, attempting a non-partisan take on some basic political structural fault lines, like our federalist system and the presidency. Next, I dipped a few toes into gay marriage and the Sandusky debate.

Soon,  I found excuses to start reading political news. At first,  just skimming (only for important issues, so I told myself) and then limiting myself to only foreign press coverage of the US presidential race. Then Salon. Then Slate. Then The Nation. Then The New Republic, Then Talking Points Memo. Then, finally, I hit rock bottom, to my deep shame, with The New York Times....

Why do I have this monkey on my back? Why am I so easily drawn in?

Why am I so obsessed? Do I need a manly hobby? Do I need to start watching sports? Playing cards? Golfing? A sports car?

Is it the impending presidential election?

Its not because I am undecided. And I'm not trying to convince anyone of anything.

I voted for Obama in 2008 and I will be voting for Obama again and that's never really been at issue. I consistently vote for the Democrats. 

Why the Democrats?

I'm socially very libertarian and, while being rather boring and middle-class myself, have a high personal tolerance for freaks, weirdos and alternative lifestyles.  On the fiscal side, while I am all for energetic commerce, I think the government has a role to play in providing a hedge against the inequities of the marketplace and a check on some of our more greedy impulses, and we do have a moral responsibility to help bear each others burdens, many of which burdens are so urgent that they cannot wait until the "voluntary" spirit moves us to do something about it.

Now some say that they "vote for the person, not the party".  I can respect that, and we can all come up with examples where one person can make a huge difference, and perhaps the presidency is one of those examples. But for me, in a system where national political power is split among three different branches, and at least two different levels (state and federal), I choose to play the averages and vote by party for the Democrats, figuring that the more folks in office that align with my values, the more likely it is that I will see those values enacted.

Also, in my view, compared to the GOP, the Democrats are open to a broader range of ideas and policy options. And in a constantly changing world with instantaneous communication and a dynamic global economy, openness to new ideas is essential. A good idea, backed up by some facts and data, is a good idea regardless of its source, whether from the left, the right, or even (gasp!) from outside of the United States.

In fact, the Democrats have even stolen some of their better ideas (welfare reform, health insurance reform, reinventing government using business principles, and drone strikes) from the GOP --- the GOP of the pre-Tea Party Era, that is. Remember back in the 1990s and early 2000s when the GOP was the party of new ideas, and the Dems were stuck in the 1960s? Remember when folks on the right like Jack Kemp, Newt Gingrich (sometimes), William Weld, William F. Buckley, Barry Goldwater, Orrin Hatch, Tom Kean, and Pete Wilson respected intellect, education and innovation?

Mitt Romney, Harvard Law School grad, fell into this category as well, before he shamelessly sold his soul to the anti-intellectual, anti-science, superstition-filled, tri-corner hat wearing, dog-whistle racism spouting, birth certificate demanding, every paranoid internet-rumor believing Tea Party to run for president. His recent selection of Tea Party favorite Paul Ryan as his running mate is the icing on the cake.

Alright, I got all of that out of me.

I have gone on this political news binge, thrown up in the gutter with my thoughts above, and now time to get back on the wagon of my News Fast. 

One day at a time.

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