I try to leave politics off the ol’ blog. I sort of assume you dudes would rather read about NetHack ascensions and broken Xboxes than listen to me bitch and/or gloat about elections. But seeing as how we just had a big one, and seeing as how my guy won, I feel like I should use this space to decompress a bit.
Even now that the election is over the political climate in this country is pretty repugnant. We have one side crying out how half the country are liberal welfare sponges who are letting a socialist dictator destroy the nation, and the other side thumbing their noses in celebration that the evil, racist conservatives are finally starting to die off. I don’t take solace in either of these positions. I didn’t in 2004, either, when they were mostly reversed.
Right now, it looks to me, the Republican base is becoming more and more marginalized with each passing year. From a sheer demographic perspective, the US is going to tend towards a single-party government unless some changes are made. That sounds just as bad to me as this current mess with “the party of NO”. To my mind, the question isn’t “how can we right-minded liberals finally deliver the final crushing blow”, but rather, “what has to change before we have a viable conservative party again?”
In other words, under what circumstances could I see myself voting Republican?
First, the social issues have to go. Until they get straight on gay rights and women’s reproductive issues, there’s no point even inviting me to the table. Less important issues (to me) would be cleaning up our immigration policies, putting an end to state-sponsored paranoia and lifting bans on what an adult can put into his own body. Start with “harm none, do what ye will” and regulate from there. When your argument begins with “we need to legislate morality”, it ends with me voting for the other guy.
Next, and every bit as big a dealbreaker, the denial of science has to stop. I am willing to hear counter-arguments to evolution, stem cell research, alternate energy and climate change, but those arguments had better come in the form of peer-reviewed research. This has gotten so extreme that we had an elected official actually say, in 2012, right there in front of everyone, that rape doesn’t lead to pregnancy. When your idealogy is so strong you attempt to warp reality around it, I don’t want you running a car wash, let alone a government office. “Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn’t go away.” Damn straight.
Third, and just as important, stop treating people who disagree with you as though they are villains out to destroy your country. Liberals are just as guilty of this as conservatives, tis true. The key difference I’ve noted in the past three election cycles, though, is that with conservatives, the hate actually comes from the top. Maybe this is confirmation bias, but I do not recollect Obama making value judgments about Republican voters at any point in the ’08 or ’12 elections. Romney, on the other hand, called me a “moocher” who “wants things for free”. Me, personally! I’m a hard worker who pays his taxes, manages his debt, gives to charity, obeys the law and cares about his fellow man! How dare you, Mitt?
That last thing might be my biggest hurdle, when it comes to voting Republican. Jeb Bartlet, my favorite fictional president, said during one of his debates: “I’m the President of the United States, not the President of the people who agree with me.” To dismiss a group of Americans so completely and utterly is a very clear sign that candidate has no interest in representing that group of Americans once in office. By contrast, one only needs to look at all the whining liberals have done about Obama to see that, whatever else might be said about the man, he is doing his level best to represent everyone. Even the people who hate him.
This isn’t a universal trait amongst Republicans. I don’t think Romney actually believed the things he said in the infamous 47% recording. He was, quite bluntly, playing to the crowd. It saddens me that moderate politicians have to twist their positions toward unreasonable extremes in order to gain votes. Even amongst the heaviest-hitters in the Republican party, it’s not hard to find chinks in their armor. I remember seeing video from a McCain rally in ’08 where he spoke out against lies being spread about his opponent. It wasn’t the complete McCain/Palin message — more an anomaly than anything — but it was honest. Respectable. “No, Obama is not a Muslim or an Arab terrorist.” That isn’t what his people wanted to hear, but it was the truth.
I believe the reason John McCain and Mitt Romney appeared so awkward and disingenuous during their respective elections is they had to adopt a message which stood in opposition to their personal political views. Both of them lost as a result.
If you look at politics as it plays on the world stage, the American perspective on left vs. right is pretty warped. Anywhere else on the planet (well, anywhere with free elections at least) Obama would be considered just right-of-center. Since I voted for Obama twice with a clear conscience, I think that neatly answers my original question: when the Republican party can run a reasonable politician who lines up with my own right-of-center politics, I will feel good about voting for them. I’ve got my fingers crossed for 2016.
ENOUGH ABOUT POLITICS. BRING ON THE PONIES.
I got mild enjoyment from the season three premiere of Friendship is Magic. It had most of the same problems all the two-part adventure episodes have had, and only one of the three songs is worth adding to my pony playlist. I did appreciate that there was no mention of elemental friendship superpowers; each of the ponies contributed via her personality and talents, rather than by firing candy lasers. (The flip side of that, of course, is that the day was instead saved by vague and convenient love-and-light lasers. Ah well.)
Cadence and Shining Armor are boring characters. I hope they aren’t becoming fixtures.
There are the barest hints of a vast metaplot slowly encroaching on the story. I hope the writers know what they’re doing with this, and aren’t just pandering to the fanfiction crowd. TV writers who start playing to the fans are a bit like conservatives who start playing to the dammit there I go again.
Screw it, I’m off to play NetHack.