Ask Auntie Pinko
Dear Auntie Pinko,
I am a 35 year old traditional Democrat. As such, I hold the
usual views that our current president is a dishonest, manipulative,
unintelligent puppet for the richer powers that be in this country.
So it would seem that voting for Kerry would be the obvious choice.
If Kerry gets elected, I believe he will work towards restoring
our economy and world standing, and might even bring some measure
of integrity back to the White House. But even so, getting everything
running smoothly only means getting back to the issues and problems
we already had.
Big companies will still evade billions in taxes by undercutting
employees, outsourcing, or outright fraudulent oversees corporate
setups. Our rights and privacy will continue to dwindle. National
debt will remain and the working class will still be expected to
be the work horses of the rich and powerful.
Somehow, selecting the lesser of two evils is still forcing
me to admit that there are system flaws. And no, Nader (Nadir?)
only WISHES he had enough followers to be considered one of the
lesser evils. He doesn't count.
So, I have to admit a perverse desire to actually vote for
Bush this November. The idea is, rather then electing the man who
might possibly be able to bandage a severely injured system back
to a partial semblance of functionality, vote instead for the man
who is SO incompetent that sometime in the next 4 years he breaks
the system entirely and we have to start over with something (anything!)
better. After all, sometimes it really is easier and more productive
to break the system than to try and fix it, and Bush seems just
the guy to be able to do that.
Is there any merit to this at all, or do I need to stop reading
so much nihilistic Hemingway before sending e-mails?
There is a great deal in what you say, and Auntie Pinko empathizes,
definitely. However, I think both your pessimism and your optimism
are a trifle inflated. Whether by avoiding Hemingway or some other
strategy, you might re-examine the whole 'sense of proportion' thing.
As something of a (strictly) amateur student of political history,
I tend to agree with you that, while Mr. Kerry will likely do his
best to make incremental improvements in the functioning of our
Federal apparatus, the net effect of what he would be likely to
achieve will not be dramatic. Unfortunately, it's always been far
easier to make messes than to clean them up.
Yet there is a great deal to be said for the incremental approach,
for a couple of reasons:
First, regardless of how badly off they are, a great many people
fear change (any change!), preferring the status quo. The
more dramatic the change, the harder they "push back," which increases
the arc of the human progress pendulum.
Secondly, the government is so large and complex, it's like trying
to navigate a cruise liner in a crowded harbor. If dramatic remedies
and ideas are applied, they may or may not work - and if something
doesn't work, it's that much harder to correct. And the potential
for damage is daunting.
Auntie Pinko is moderately optimistic about this election, because
I do think that in a (admittedly rather twisted) way, it is a win-win
scenario for the Democratic Party. If Mr. Kerry wins, we have a
chance to start cleaning up the mess (however slowly and painstakingly)
that much sooner. It's easier to clean up some messes when they
haven't taken hold all that firmly.
And if Mr. Bush wins, things will definitely get worse - to the
point where it's unlikely that there will be another Republican
president for a good many years, and Democratic power in both the
legislative and judicial branches is likely to be much stronger
for a while. Our opportunity to clean up will probably last longer.
But it will net out, because the mess to clean up will be that much
But I can't share your optimism that if we get to the point of
"breaking the system entirely," whatever is done to replace it will
necessarily be better than what we have now, in spite of all its
flaws. Given the number of people who voted for Mr. Bush in 2000
(and their reasons for doing so), the number who are likely to vote
for him again, and a quick scan of the available political and social
leadership, I'd definitely be anxious about what a "replacement"
might look like.
So I'll stick with the "elect Mr. Kerry" option as the one ultimately
most likely to cause the least harm. It might help with that 'sense
of proportion' thing, too, if you read up on what the status quo
in America looked like in, say, 1870. Or even 1910. And if you look
at the status quo experienced by the other six billion people in
the world. Here's a helpful URL for that: http://www.prb.org/
Large parts of the world are demanding a share of resources, economic
power, and social dignity. It's easy for Americans to forget how
thoroughly our domestic comfort is entwined with these global issues.
A sense of proportion might help us look at the possibilities of
a Kerry Administration with a bit more optimism, Dave - and thanks
for asking Auntie!
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