The Two Evils (Part Two)

August 19, 2011
Michele Bachmann

Image by Gage Skidmore via Flickr

Read part one here

What happened? How did our only choices become ideologues and bureaucrats?

Let’s start with the Republicans. The right wing have some advantages that other groups don’t. The American Civil Christians are the largest cohesive unit in the country, and every Sunday morning, churchgoers are given their marching orders for the week. Attend one of these services, and you may be surprised to learn that very little is said about God or the Bible. You’ll hear the name Jesus come up a lot, but not about the life of the man in the New Testament, but rather in reference to the power churchgoers are given to go forward with their plans. “In the name of Jesus, I implore you to call your Congressman and tell him to vote for H.R. 3200.” Yes, you will hear the phrase “H.R.” as often as you’ll hear anything about faith.

It’s hard to pinpoint the reach of Civil Christians, but I’ve mentioned before that they tend to make up about 26% of any voting bloc. Any Republican who caters to this group is halfway to being elected.

Beyond this group, Republicans also have a greater sense of cooperation. It seems strange to say when it seems that every day there’s another story about Republicans’ refusal to compromise… the “party of No,” as they’re called. I’m not talking about compromising with liberals, though. This was where President Bush got his power. Many Republicans opposed the wars, and the Bush Administration’s shameless handouts to their corporate allies didn’t go over well, either. But there are many Republicans who do feel strongly about not allowing gay marriage, and they’re willing to compromise on those other things if a candidate opposes gay marriage. Still others care about nothing but lowering taxes, even if they may not agree with a Republican’s views on education or religion. If a candidate promises to stand for every conservative principle, even if they contradict each other, he’ll get the conservatives’ votes.

On the other hand, left-leaning Democrats must accept that they will never get all of the liberal vote. Liberal agendas are much farther reaching and much more likely to contradict each other. Technology and science tend to be fairly liberal demographics, but reaching out for the pro-science vote may not sit well with environmentalists or animal rights groups. Minority groups tend to be fairly jealous of each other, and a focus on black rights may get feminists wondering why women don’t get the same attention. The ACLU staunchly believes that free speech of all kinds, even hateful or defamatory, must be protected, yet other liberal organizations like ADL and GLAAD have the phrase “Against Defamation” right in their names.

Beyond these internal conflicts (which aren’t really internal at all, as they stand for their special interest first and Democrats only when it suits them), if activists on the left don’t feel that a candidate will be loyal to them, they’re perfectly happy not voting, or placing a symbolic vote for a third-party, one-cause candidate. I would say that garnering liberal votes is like herding cats, but I wouldn’t want to piss off the PeTA people.

So what’s a Democrat to do? Unsurprisingly, they just take the far left votes where they can get them and ignore the rest. So since they have dismissed a large chunk of their 26%, they make up the deficit by going after the disaffected Republican vote, moderate conservatives who look for any excuse not to vote for the nutbag their primaries let in. It’s no wonder, then, that the only Democrats to be elected President in the last 40 years all had a conservative (or at least non-liberal) bent, and even then, only one could win a reelection.

So what option do liberals (or even moderate liberals) in the United States have? Let me know what you think.

To Be Continued…


On Boycotts

July 29, 2010

I’ve been sent two articles in particular this week from several sources– one is a call to boycott Target because a congressman who opposes gay rights has received some of their money; the other is a call to boycott Home Depot because they support community organizations who champion gay rights.

Do we still not get why our economy is so ass backwards? I’m aware of boycott charges against WalMart for using evil business practices, or Starbucks for being too aggressive, or Hallmark for monetizing our culture. I get those boycotts. But to infuse politics into two of the most apolitical organizations out there is ridiculous. It’s selfish, it’s egomaniacal, and it’s just plain mean.

There are certainly times when a company has a definite political bent. Don’t forget that NewsCorp and Universal are both businesses. Whole Foods made that whole weird stink last year about health care. There were a few companies in 2008 who got in trouble for telling their employees how to vote. Those are times when one might be expected to reach out to their local companies and say ‘cut it out, or I’m taking my business somewhere else.’

Target, though? Target has a rating of 100% from the HRC. They have very progressive hiring practices, and even if they didn’t, they have no record of any unfair business practices, which is exceedingly rare for a budget chain. Now they have donated money to a pro-business PAC, which has donated money to a pro-business candidate for Governor of Minnesota (they’re based in Minneapolis), who among other things is a very religious man who opposes gay rights. Target has already come out in an attempt to be perfectly clear—no, they do not agree with the candidate’s view on gay rights. Yes, some of their money did make it to his campaign. But they donated the money to an organization which has a reputation of helping businesses. They’re a business.

Home Depot’s connection to this ridiculous charade is that they have but up promotional booths at gay pride parades, and put on workshops for children. In other words, they’re advertising at a place where there are going to be a lot of people who see their name. I give you a guarantee that Home Depot also has tents in many more festivals which have a more chauvinist, homophobic slant, but not because it has anything to do with politics—a majority of do-it-yourself, lumber and power tools type customers have a more conservative slant. Now Home Depot—who, incidentally, have a less than impressive score of 85% with the HRC—are being boycotted as gay-lovers.

You know who’s getting business out of all this, who’s benefiting from this culture war? Competitors who have done nothing for anybody. That’s the message we’re sending to these companies. Keep your advertising to billboards and obnoxious television commercials. Don’t support any causes. Take all that extra money and just funnel it into your stockholder’s pockets.

Your decades-long track record means nothing to us. If you do one thing we disagree with (and both companies are patronized by both ‘sides of the aisle’), we’ll drop any support for your store. So just don’t bother. Let’s go back to an age of huge companies with no social responsibilities at all.

The only solace I have from all this is that the same knee-jerk reactionaries who call for these boycotts also lack conviction. They’ll be shopping there again soon enough.


The Silly Season Begins

May 9, 2010

TVMI’m starting to enjoy the political season as much as college football season, if only because it’s the only competition more detached from reality and reason than the BCS. The mass exodus of incumbents is fucking fascinating. Not only Republicans– while the Democrats are resigning en masse out of disgust for what passes as a constituency these days, but all the Republicans being pushed out by Tea Party candidates.

Now, I am not one of those people who believe that Tea Partiers are stupid or racist. But they are ignorant, and this proves it for two reasons:

1. If you want someone representing you in Congress, regardless of ideology, buy off an incumbent. Not only do incumbents have a staggering re-election rate, but Congress is not a Democracy- seniority is everything. This concept of throwing out 20-year veterans and replacing them with random businessmen who promise to spend money on anything just doesn’t work. They go into the general election with no wind at their backs and the animosity of the huge contributors that had invested millions of dollars In the candidate that just got pushed out, and the few who win will accomplish nothing for two years and get voted out in 2012.

2. Polls only reflect the opinions of the people who were polled. A poll of 1000 people could produce unanimous results and still only prove that .0003% of Americans agree with something. There is one statistic that people tend to ignore, and it’s staggering: 80% of Americans don’t respond to polls. Add to this that many polls are done by phone, and you’re already limiting the demographic to people who still own a home phone. In 2010, that’s an overwhelmingly conservative and denialist group. But all those people who don’t give the time of day to questions like “does Obama’s Muslim heritage lead you to believe that American churches are at risk?” will still vote. In huge numbers. Especially if the leading candidate has ads on TV promising to cut funding for schools, infrastructure, and police. People do vote out of fear, but they’re far more scared of Anarchy than they are of Socialism.